Are your hands and feet usually cold? Do you often experience tingling, numbness or aching in your arms and legs?
These could be tell-tale signs that you have poor blood circulation.
Your circulatory system transports oxygen-rich blood packed with nutrients throughout your body. For an optimal blood flow, you need a strong heart to pump oxygenated blood to your organs and limbs, a healthy blood pressure and clear, open arteries. At the same time, your lymphs carry waste products, bacteria and toxins away from your tissues to be removed or filtered.
But when you’re chronically ill, your blood and lymph flow might nog function optimally, due to your health issues, side-effects of medication or as a result of being bedridden. In healthy people, a sedentary lifestyle is often the biggest culprit of poor circulation.
As a result, you could experience symptoms like cold hand and feet, numbness, muscles cramps, exhaustion, varicose veins, a pale skin or brittle hair and nails.
So how can you improve your blood and lymph flow, even when you suffer from health problems? Have a look at these 7 natural ways to boost your circulation.
How to Boost Your Circulation Naturally
- If possible, treat the underlying cause. Heart disease, diabetes and obesity are well-known contributors to poor circulation. Check with your doctor if there’s anything that can be done to better manage your health problems, including your circulation. It also helps to make general heart-healthy choices, like monitoring your weight and blood pressure, reducing your intake of red and processed meats and putting omega-3 rich fatty fish on the menu.
- Get moving. Sitting down all day long hurts your health; it slows your overall metabolism as well as your blood flow. Your body cells are no longer optimally supplied with oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood, leaving you feeling tired and mentally sluggish. So make a habit of getting up from your chair. Set your alarm to stretch your legs every hour, take the stairs instead of the elevator or go for an invigorating walk on your lunch hour. If you’re bed bound or have physical limitations, try to ‘exercise’ lying or seated down: circle your ankles, wrists and shoulders; flex your toes and spread your fingers, or do simple stretches to increase the blood flow to your extremities.
- Dry body brushing is an ancient wellness practice that boosts your blood flow and stimulates your lymph to remove waste products from your body by firmly running a bristled brush over your skin. For better circulation, dry brush your body with long, smooth strokes starting at the your feet and hands, moving towards your heart, before you jump in the shower in the morning.
- Spice it up! Ginger, cayenne pepper, onions and garlic are known to support a healthy cardiovascular system. Staying hydrated with water or warming drinks also helps to keep your blood and lymph flowing.
- Take contrast showers. Alternating hot and cold water revs up your blood circulation, by diluting (warm) and constricting (cold) your blood vessels. You can start off with your usual (warm) water temperature before turning the shower to cool for 1 minute. Repeat this hot-and-cold cycle 3-5 times. Always end your contrast shower with a cold burst for a refreshing and energizing start of your day. Warning: Be sure to check with your doctor whether drastic temperature changes are safe for you if you suffer from a chronic (heart) condition.
- Try massages to relax tight muscles and keep your blood flowing. You could gently pat your body with open palms, rub your feet, use a self-massage tool or see a licensed massage therapist.
- Mind your posture. Sitting with your legs crossed is a classic faux-pas, resulting in cold feet, swollen ankles or numb legs. Try not to slump over your desk or lean on one hip while standing, but keep an open, upright pose to let your blood flow freely through your body.
Do you suffer from poor circulation due to health problems? How do you keep your blood and lymph flowing freely?
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