The way your body circulates blood is vital to your overall health. The movement of blood around the body allows it to provide important nutrients to tissues and organs, and it also helps with processes like waste removal.
Due to the constant fight against the pull of gravity, the muscles that help veins return blood to the heart from the legs and feet are under the most strain when it comes to circulation. Here are some tips to maintain good circulation.
- Stay Hydrated
Much of your blood content is made of plasma, which actually accounts for over half of your blood’s total volume. Plasma is over 90 percent water, so hydration is a vital part of keeping proper circulation.
You should drink at least eight full glasses of water per day, or possibly more depending on your levels of physical activity. You may also need more water if the weather is particularly hot or humid, or if you’ve had alcohol or caffeine that day—both of these substances can dehydrate the body.
- Walk more
Any low-impact, aerobic exercise is great for circulation—walking is a perfect example for people of every fitness level. But any exercise, including jogging, cycling, rowing or similar activities are beneficial. These activities help increase the heart rate and improve circulation throughout the body, particularly through muscle contraction in the legs that help veins move blood back up toward the heart.
- Stretch and Watch Your Posture
Stretching helps open up pathways for blood to bring oxygen and nutrients to the proper organs and muscles as needed.
It’s also important to watch your posture. Many people cross their legs naturally when they sit, for example, but this might be interfering with your leg circulation. Try these tips for better circulation:
- Sit with the legs spaced apart, feet firmly on the floor.
- Sit with the legs slightly elevated, possibly using a stool or other item to support them six to twelve inches off the floor.
- If you sit a lot, get up every now and then to stretch your legs and ensure you aren’t in the same position for too long.
- During sleep, a good way to help improve circulation is using a pillow to raise the legs. This can also have benefits for your back.
- Stop Smoking
Smoking damages numerous areas of the body, and veins are among these. Nicotine in tobacco is the single largest cause of bad circulation—it can damage the blood vessels throughout your body and lead to swelling and blood clots. Quitting can be tough, but it can be done—speak to your doctor about your options.
- Wear Compression Stockings
Particularly for those who have a job that requires long periods of standing or sitting, compression stockings for the legs may be very helpful. These help supplement your lack of movement throughout the day, forcing leg muscles to contract as if you were walking or exercising them.
- Reduce Stress
Stress can affect everything from your blood pressure to your mental health. Lowering stress can help improve your circulation, whether it’s through getting better sleep, meditating or some other form of relaxation, taking some time off work, or promoting a healthier diet.
Your doctor or vein specialist can offer further recommendations on improving your circulation.
“5 Tips to Improve Blood Circulation.” JohnstonHealth.org. https://johnstonhealth.org/2012/03/5-tips-to-improve-blood-circulation/
“Six Tips for Improving Blood Circulation.” Vein Clinics of America. https://www.veinclinics.com/blog/six-tips-to-improve-blood-circulation/