How to Improve Circulation
Learn how to improve your circulation and put it into practice and your health will surely benefit. There is a well-known saying "Perfect health depends upon perfect circulation." When you think about it, this must be true. Every cell in your body requires oxygen, water, food and waste removal just as you do. If you were deprived of any of these essentials you would soon start feeling the effects. It's the same for all of the approximately 75 trillion cells in your body. While some types of cells are given priority, others, if the circulation is impaired, will receive fewer resources and will suffer and be less efficient.
Impaired blood circulation is very common. The American Heart Association reports that one third of adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure. The rate of various forms of cardiovascular disease is 40%.
In our largely-sedentary society and with the poor diets that many people have, circulation problems increase with age. The circulation has to be kept doing what it is designed to do in order to remain healthy. As in so many areas of health, it is use it or lose it.
Poor circulation can be a major factor in memory and cognitive function. The American Psychological Association reports that about 20% of people over age 65 and 50% over age 85 have memory loss. The brain, when active, has a large requirement for blood supply. If it doesn't get what it needs it won't work as well and its ability to perform over the long term will be decreased. You need good circulation to your brain to stay alert and have a sharp memory.
Better circulation will only help the critical services to our cells of getting oxygen and food in and waste products out. It helps every process in the body to function better.
Poor Circulation Symptoms
- Cold (or hot) hands and/or feet
- Dizziness when rising suddenly
- Energy is low
- Frequent infections
- Healing slowly from wounds or bruises
- High blood pressure
- Intermittent claudication
- Forgetfulness, confusion etc
- Numbness of hands and feet
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Sinus congestion
- Swollen ankles and legs
- Varicose veins
Poor circulation, especially in the hands, and particularly when the weather gets cold may be diagnosed as Raynaud's phenomenon.
Poor circulation to the brain and the resulting restriction in oxygenation may be linked to dementia and age-related memory loss.
Circulation Fitness Tests
The Capillary Refill test is a very simple check of circulatory fitness. It is done by pressing down on a person's fingernail until the nail turns white, and then releasing and observing the time required for blood to return to under the nail and restore the normal color. It shouldn't take more than about 2 seconds.
Ankle Brachial Index A diagnosis of poor circulation can be made by administering an ankle brachial index test. For this test a blood-pressure cuff is placed around the ankle. If there is a large difference in the blood pressure between the ankle and the arm, it may be indicate poor circulation.
How to Improve Circulation
Here are a number of suggestions of how to improve circulation. Just a quick summary is given. You can research the items of interest in more detail and decide which of these might fit best for you.
Exercise Regular and sufficiently-strenuous exercise is perhaps the best strategy to improve circulation, stimulate your muscles, improve your heart rate, and keep joints functioning without pain - just move. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day is very important but even this will not counteract the
negative effects of hours of sitting
at a desk. If you have that kind of a job, you should take a short break every hour or two that you are sedentary and get some exercise to get the blood flowing again. Even a couple of minutes will be beneficial.
Therapeutic Massage A massage, properly done can stimulate blood flow. This can also be done in such a way as to encourage lymphatic circulation. While the circulation of the blood brings oxygen and nutrients to the cells the lymphatic system is also very important to remove wastes.
on a rebounder (mini-trampoline) is extremely effective at stimulating the lymphatic circulation. This is an easy and fun way to maintain this important system.
Herbal Remedies Cayenne pepper is very stimulating to the circulation. People have even found that sprinkling it in the socks/boots can help to improve circulation to teh feet during very cold weather when the body will tend to react to the cold by withdrawing blood from the extremities.
Ginkgo can also be helpful to both improve memory and stimulate circulation. Garlic and ginger are two others that can boost circulation and are helpful to health in other ways. Just remember the 3G's.
Hawthorne berry is another herb that is very good for circulation and for the heart.
As one of the functions of circulation is to bring life-giving oxygen to the tissues, it makes sense that deep breathing exercises would help ensure that insufficient oxygen intake was not limiting the effectiveness of circulation. We need the blood circulating efficiently but it also needs to have oxygen in it to be of benefit.
Lose Weight The heavier you are the more miles of blood vessels your heart has to pump blood through and the more problems there will be getting circulation to everywhere it is needed. By just losing any excess weight, your heart's job will be easier and circulation will be improved.
Elevate Feet and Legs Just putting your feet up can improve circulation. If your feet are elevated to a point higher than your heart that will especially benefit the circulation. Some people find a technique like this to be of great benefit. Lie on your back on the floor (preferably carpeted for comfort) and put your calves up on the seat of a chair. This can help restore the circulation after a day of much standing.
A Healthy Diet
If you are eating a diet high in animal fats and generally overeating, your circulation will gradually slow down. Better is a low-fat vegetarian or even a vegan diet. Many of the best (especially endurance) athletes use no animal products and they surely need a good circulation.
Healthy Fats While avoiding fats, especially saturated animal fats, in the diet can help to improve circulation, you do want to include the correct healthy fats. As far as possible get these in their natural food form in such products as olives, avocadoes and seeds such as flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower and the lesser seed powerhouses such as chia.
Vitamin E This vitamin helps to prevent deposits from building up on the sides of the arteries. This helps to decrease the rate at which arteries narrow to restrict blood flow.
Another answer to how to improve circulation is by drinking plenty of water. Your blood is primarily made of water and needs large amounts to carry out all of its functions. Remember that alcohol, caffeine, and soft drinks will actually cause you to lose water. Even a slight degree of dehydration will cause some thickening of the blood, making it harder for the heart to pump it through the arteries. Adding more water is a very simple step you can take that has many other benefits as well.
Hydrotherapy There are many hydrotherapy (use of water) techniques that can benefit circulation. For example, it is always good to end a shower with (if you can take it) up to 30 seconds of cold water. This has the effect of driving the blood towards the core of the body which will increase the circulation in that area. People have reported that this helps relieve rheumatoid arthritis.
What to do now? So there are a number of ideas of how to improve circulation. Select some that you can implement right away and get started. Your circulation and overall health will quickly benefit. Then, over time, you can add more strategies for even better circulation and you will be on your way towards perfect or, at least, much-improved health.
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