by Will Grumke April 28, 2020 6 min read
Having healthy blood circulation is very important for your health and quality of life, but what is blood circulation?
What is the difference between poor blood circulation and good blood circulation?
Does it relate to blood flow and blood pressure?
How much control do I have over my blood circulation?
These are all very important questions, and they are all interrelated.
In this article, you’ll learn all about blood circulation and how to improve it within your body.
It is important to realize that cardiovascular health doesn’t change overnight.
Improving your cardiovascular health is an ongoing process that takes patience and commitment, so let’s dive in and learn how to improve circulation!
Blood circulation is the process your heart goes through to pump and transport blood through your body.
Blood circulation is also called blood flow, because of the movement of the blood.
Good blood flow means that your body’s blood is pumped efficiently to where it needs to go.
Your circulatory system transports nutrients, oxygen, minerals, and antibodies throughout your body and cells to help them operate properly.
The circulation process also takes away waste from the cells.
Problems with your cardiovascular system can result in coronary artery diseases, arrhythmia, peripheral artery disease, and congestive heart failure.
Good signs you have good cardiovascular health is if you have normal blood pressure, your cholesterol is within the normal range, and you don’t have irregular heartbeats, clogged arteries, or heart valve problems.
If these problems are not monitored or kept in check, your risk of stroke, cardiac arrest, and even death may increase.
Poor circulation isn’t a condition or illness, but typically the result of other health problems.
Therefore, even though you might work to improve poor blood circulation, or improve blood flow, it could be a symptom of a larger problem … which your doctor can help resolve.
Some common health issues that cause poor blood circulation include blood clots, Renaud’s disease, peripheral artery disease, diabetes, varicose veins, and obesity.
Some other symptoms that usually go with poor blood circulation include swelling, tingling, fatigue, changes in skin color, muscle cramps, and even numbness in the feet, ankles, and legs.
Now there are things you can do to help. For example, compression socks can help with poor circulation and numbness in the feet.
While that may be a great short-term fix, we’re looking for long term results … so we’ve put together a list that will help you find some different ways to improve your blood circulation.
You could do any one of these this week and help create a brighter, healthier future for yourself in terms of cardiovascular health.
If you’re looking to help improve your blood circulation long-term, try one or more of these ideas … keep in mind, these suggestions are not intended to treat any medical condition.
They are merely lifestyle adjustments that can help improve blood flow.
Consult your doctor to help with your specific medical condition.
Tobacco products contain many harmful chemicals, and in general not good for your overall health.
As it relates to blood flow, nicotine found in tobacco products has a negative effect, causing the blood vessels to constrict, or narrow.
This means that there is a limited amount of blood that can flow through your body.
But that’s not all!
The ingredients in cigarettes also produce carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide binds hemoglobin proteins together instead of to oxygen like they are supposed to do.
This means that your blood will struggle to transport a sufficient amount of oxygen to your organs.
Exercise helps strengthen your heart, making it pump blood more efficiently.
Exercise also requires increased blood flow to muscles for nutrients and oxygen.
This, in turn, makes the body respond by expanding the blood vessels to help the blood flow easily and improves how well your muscles use the blood.
You can try jogging, weightlifting, yoga, or an at-home workout to help you get your blood flowing.
The antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins in these healthy foods make up the colors in these fruits and vegetables, such as Anthocyanins in red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables, Carotenoids in orange and yellow, and Polyphenols in white.
These compounds help fight free radicals and oxidative stress.
A reds superfood powder can increase the stability of nitric oxide in the bloodstream by neutralizing harmful free radicals that destroy nitric oxide.
Healthy nitric oxide levels improve blood flow throughout the body and contribute to better exercise performance, improved cognitive function and immune system, can help with blood pressure regulation, and so much more.
Iron is an important mineral for your circulatory system. Iron is in hemoglobin, which is a major component of blood cells.
Making sure your body has sufficient nutrients to have happy and healthy cells is very important.
Foods that are high in iron include spinach, tofu, red meat, lentils, and eggs.
Massage therapists push on your muscles which help press the blood through your body.
As the massage therapist lifts their hands away from your body, it causes new blood to flow to that area.
This also helps release lactic acid from your muscles, relieving your body from pain and discomfort.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna.
Omega-3 fatty acids work well with your circulatory system by increasing blood flow, lowering triglyceride levels, and increasing the good cholesterol in your body.
If you want a more convenient way of getting omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, try using an omega-3 supplement.
Stress causes your heart to pump faster and your blood vessels to constrict. This simultaneously causes your blood pressure to increase.
This can result in your heart working too hard for too long, potentially causing damage to your circulatory system.
Learning to manage stress can help improve your blood circulation.
Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, tai-chi, talking to someone you love about the stressors in your life, or talking to a professional can all help.
Studies have recently shown that extensive periods of sitting down worsen risk factors for cardiovascular problems.
Standing up more can have many positive benefits for your health. In today's world, our society spends more time than ever sitting in a car, in a cubicle, or on the couch.
So, simple ways to naturally work standing more into your routine are to get a stand-up desk.
Set a reminder on your phone to move so often throughout the day no matter if its the workday or weekend.
Or anytime you are on the phone, stand... or walk!
This may seem out of place but protecting yourself from germs is important to cardiovascular health.
Pneumonia, the flu, and other infections can be really hard on the heart.
The bacterias from these illnesses will add stress to your cardiovascular system as your body tries to fight them off.
By reducing your chances of becoming sick, you are protecting your heart and your body.
Alcohol temporarily raises blood pressure and heart rate. If you drink alcohol regularly, this can have long-term effects on the cardiovascular system such as irregular heartbeat, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and weakened heart muscles.
While you don’t have to eliminate alcohol completely from your diet, be responsible and don’t drink excessively... and DEFINITELY DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!
Making sure you are eating a colorful, natural diet can help your heart pump more efficiently.
This means you should eat fruits and veggies with every meal.
Getting the proper nutrients to keep the cells in your body healthy is necessary, although challenging sometimes.
Your circulation is very important and affects many aspects of your life.
By taking care of the underlying issues causing swelling, tingling, fatigue, skin color changes, muscle cramps, and/or numbness in the feet, ankles, and legs … you can help decrease or rid yourself of these symptoms.
Simply making daily, small changes to strengthen your heart and improve circulation can help you become a healthier version of you!
Will Grumke is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.