Your circulatory system is your body’s method of distributing both nutrients and oxygen. It also functions to clean your body, whisking away carbon dioxide and waste products from all areas. It is very important to keep your blood circulating well so that your body gets all the support it needs to survive. Which is why we have compiled a list of the simplest ways to improve circulation and stay healthy.

The symptoms of poor circulation can vary. Some people experience slight tingling in their extremities, while others might develop varicose veins in their legs. Whatever the symptoms, inadequate blood flow is a major risk factor for issues like heart attacks, strokes, and even amputation of limbs.

Proper circulation is vital for one’s health, and can also prevent varicose veins. If you’re worried about your circulation or experience pain or coldness in certain areas, you should contact your doctor immediately, as this may be indicative of poor blood flow. With these tips in mind, it is easier than ever to prevent and improve poor circulation to keep yourself healthy.

Take a Walk

Poor circulation can be a problem for those who stand for extended periods of time at work. In this position, the blood simply is not recirculating adequately in the body, and it can result in extreme pain in the legs and feet. According to this study, the simple act of walking every day can dramatically increase the circulation throughout your body.

If you find yourself standing for too long, or remaining sedentary for any reason, find a friend, go for a walk, and get that blood moving. A simple exercise like walking is enough to stretch your muscles and restore blood flow.

Stop Smoking

It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes leads to a host of health problems. Not least among them is the fact that cigarettes are extremely damaging to cardiovascular health. Smoking causes swelling of the wrists and ankles. It damages your cells on a molecular level and can increase the risk of blood clots.

Cigarettes kill 140,000 people in America because of their impact on cardiovascular health. Quitting cigarettes is one of the best things you can do to ensure your vital organs receive an increased amount of oxygenated blood.

Try Swedish Massage

A therapeutic Swedish massage, available at most spas, is a luxurious getaway for your body and mind. Though relaxation is tied to healthier blood flow, massage therapy has been shown to increase local blood circulation and lymphatic flow. Trained massage therapists know how to increase your circulation through specialty strokes throughout the session.

Do Some Yoga to Improve Circulation

Regular, gentle yoga is another pleasant alternative therapy for improving circulation. Studies have shown that certain yoga poses have proven beneficial for cardiovascular health, and offer a myriad of other health benefits as well.

The best part about yoga is that simple exercises and stretches can be safely done in the comfort of your own home, without expensive equipment or gym fees.

Put Those Feet Up

Aside from the fact that you deserve a break at the end of a long, exhausting day, there are legitimate health reasons to put your feet up daily. Gravity can cause fluids to build up in your lower limbs if you’re on your feet all day. Laying down with your feet elevated about six inches above your torso is a great way to reduce swelling.

Elevating your feet lets gravity help your blood flow establish a more natural rhythm, especially if you’ve spent a great portion of your day on your feet.

Decrease Stress

When you’re stressed out, your body produces higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which is linked to cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure. Studies have shown that stress significantly decreases the amount of oxygenated blood flow to the heart.

If you’re experiencing elevated levels of stress, it’s likely impacting your circulation. Try to focus on mediating that stress in your life. Whether you de-stress through hobby time, meditation, phone calls with friends, listening to music, or journaling, make sure you prioritize your peace of mind.

Losing Weight Will Improve Circulation

Like quitting smoking, losing weight takes a little more of a lifestyle change to implement. Weight gain restricts blood flow due to endothelial dysfunction, blocking circulation to the limbs. It’s been shown that having excess fat, especially belly fat, can make it more difficult for your abdominal arteries to expand. This means less blood flow throughout the rest of your body.

Losing weight can help take pressure off those arteries, and lead to better circulation.

Wear Compression Stockings or Socks

Compression stockings are long, tight socks that hug your lower legs and improve blood circulation. They counteract the tendency of blood to pool in the lower legs.  Compression socks squeeze your vein walls in such a way that the blood returns to the heart from the legs more easily. They help mimic the muscle movement created by walking even when you’re sitting still. This discourages stiffness and swelling, and is very useful for people who work long hours sitting at a desk.

Compression socks can be purchased in a variety of styles, fabrics, colors, and levels of compression. Some are designed for dress, casual, and sports, in open and closed toe. There are four main levels of compression from 8-15 mmHg to 30-40 mmHg. The lower the number, the milder the compression. People in many professions wear compression socks daily to improve circulation, and prevent leg fatigue and swelling.

Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Pomegranates and blueberries are great sources of antioxidants, which are thought to increase blood flow by neutralizing free radicals, which can damage your cells. Some other super foods to include in your diet to increase circulation are grapes, nuts, dark green veggies, sweet potatoes, beans and fish.

Wear the Right Clothes

Tight clothing prevents blood flow by placing pressure on the skin. Loose clothing allows blood to flow freely without restriction. Shoes that are too tight or at an odd angle (like high heels) force your feet into uncomfortable positions, causing swelling in the feet and ankles which restricts blood flow.

Choose clothes and shoes that are comfortable if you know you will be on your feet for long periods of time. Save those more form fitting clothes and high heels for date night or special occasions.

Don’t Cross Your Legs

Crossing your legs while sitting can restrict blood flow. Sitting with both feet flat on the ground helps prevent this. If you typically cross your legs, this can be a difficult habit to break, but it is highly recommended that you give it a try.

Crossing your legs not only hinders circulation but it can also lead to poor posture, back pain and leg stiffness.

Drink Water

Your body needs water to move nutrients and waste throughout the blood. It helps keep both your blood and skin cells hydrated so they can repair themselves efficiently. Dehydration can lead to serious health problems.

Keep water on hand and drink it regularly throughout the day. Drinking water will improve circulation, brain function and heart problems.

Poor circulation is a serious health threat that afflicts many Americans, but there are plenty of interventions to consider. If you have been giving extra thought to improving your circulation, the professionals at New Jersey Vein and Vascular Center can help answer questions about vascular health, blood flow, and varicose veins.