Here’s a fun fact: The human body contains approximately 60,000 miles of blood vessels, which serve as pathways to transport blood from one body area to another. The circulatory system is a crucial part of the body responsible for distributing blood, oxygen, and nutrients all over the body. Like a vast network of roadways connecting every corner of the body, this system is composed of the heart and other muscles.
If blood flow to a specific body part is reduced, you may experience poor circulation. This often affects your arms and legs. When circulation is lacking, blood flow can either slow down or stop altogether. As a result, your body’s cells receive less oxygen and nutrients.
Symptoms of poor circulation
Signs of poor circulation vary and can include the following symptoms:
- Hands and feet that feel cold or numb
- Legs with a blue tinge
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Slow or no hair growth on your feet and legs
- Men having erectile dysfunction
- Anyone with diabetes who have wounds that take a long time to heal
11 Steps to improving poor circulation
To prevent and or improve poor circulation, here are steps to take that can be helpful:
- Don’t smoke – Smoking will exacerbate any circulatory problems you may have. Nicotine found in cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco harms the walls of your arteries, thickening the blood and making it hard for blood to get around the body.
- Control your blood pressure – High blood pressure predisposes you to arteriosclerosis, a condition that hardens your arteries that can slow or choke off blood flow. Know what your blood pressure is and discuss with your doctor lifestyle changes to make to improve blood pressure readings.
- Stay well-hydrated – About 75 percent of your blood is water. Stay well-hydrated by aiming to drink at least 8 cups of water daily to keep it moving freely through your circulatory system.
- Avoid sitting for long periods – Sitting all day is not great for circulation or your back. Sitting too much weakens leg muscles slowing the blood flow, which could lead to a blood clot. Consider a standing desk at work to improve blood circulation. Doing more standing than sitting requires more work from the valves in your leg veins, sending blood to your heart.
- Do yoga – This low-impact exercise can jump-start your blood flow. All the twisting and turning sends blood to your organs while bringing oxygen to your cells.
- Hit the wall with this yoga pose – If your legs or ankles swell, do a yoga pose called viparita karani. This move sends your blood in the other direction, helping to improve circulation.
- Move often – Whenever you walk, bike, swim, dance, or do similar exercises, you breathe in more oxygen and move your muscles. This gets your blood pumping, strengthening your heart and lowering your blood pressure. Each day set a goal to exercise for 30 minutes. This can be one of the best investments in better circulation and health.
- Wear compression stockings – Compression stockings or socks help squeeze your legs, forcing your blood to keep moving back up to the heart, keeping things moving.
- Love your plant-based foods – The best dietary advice is to consume more fruits and vegetables. These nutritional gems are loaded with water and essential antioxidants, all good for circulation. Foods loaded with saturated fat, such as red meat, cheese, and other animal sources, should be avoided. Also, steer clear of salty foods – this helps keep blood pressure in check.
- Brush your skin – We all know to brush our hair, but brushing your skin is excellent for good circulation. Use a body brush with stiff, flat bristles, and start with your feet working your way up. Use long motions on your arms and legs. Make circles on your belly and lower back. Dry brushing also helps rid dead skin cells. Do it every day right before you shower.
- Take a warm bath – One of the greatest pleasures in life is to soak in a hot tub. Taking a bath helps kick-start your circulation as the warm water makes your arteries and veins open more expansive, letting more blood through.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.