Circulation is the process by which the heart pumps blood around the body. This delivers vital nutrients and oxygen to the areas that require it. Inadequate blood flow, known commonly as poor circulation, can cause a number of physical symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the extremities, swelling of the limbs and muscle cramps. Poor circulation isn’t a health issue in itself but can be a sign of a wider problem.
Several conditions can lead to poor circulation, the most common being obesity, diabetes, arterial issues and heart conditions. Each of these ailments affects the natural flow of blood in one way or another. In the case of diabetes, poor circulation is accompanied by pain and lack of feeling in the limbs—especially the legs. Being overweight can also lead to poor circulation; carrying excess weight can put a strain on the lower extremities causing varicose veins and blood vessel issues. Chronic cold hands and feet could even be a sign of Raynaud’s disease. This condition causes the arteries in the hands and toes to narrow, making them less capable of moving blood in that area of the body.
Making small changes to your lifestyle can have a huge impact on your circulation. A good starting point is to reduce your intake of saturated fats, stop smoking and avoid sitting stationary for long periods of time. Each of these is a huge contributor to poor blood circulation. One of the best-known ways to improve circulation is to take up regular exercise, cardiovascular exercises like jogging are especially effective. Exercise helps to improve the blood vessels’ capability to dilate and therefore work more efficiently. Other methods for improving circulation include:
- Eating oily fish (high in omega 3)
- Keeping iron levels balanced
- Practising yoga
- Consuming antioxidant-rich foods
- Wearing specialised support hosiery
- Using special equipment to promote blood flow such as leg massagers
3-minute circulation booster
To get your blood pumping around your body with this 3-minute circulation booster.
Step 1: March on the spot for 20 marches. Keep shoulders back and tummy muscles pulled tight.
Step 2: Continue marching and add shoulder rolls, forwards 5 times then backwards 5 times.
Step 3: Finish with 10 alternating knee lifts; bring each knee up to meet the opposing elbow.