How Circulation Works

Understanding your body is key to feeling your best, and living out your best life.

So getting to know the role of circulation in your body, and everything it impacts, goes a long way to getting healthier, and staying that way.

Few processes are more important than healthy circulation. It’s critical for energy, detoxification, stamina, heart health, and a range of things you might not have imagined.

You may not realize it at the time, but most of us have felt symptoms related to poor blood circulation. Like the feeling of numbness in your arms or legs, or a tingling sensation you can’t explain.

What about cold hands or toes? Or swelling in your legs or feet? 

All are likely related to circulation, but the list is even longer. Sharper thinking, digestion, joint discomfort or cramping, and even your skin can be impacted by how well blood circulates throughout your body. 

Simply put, your body needs proper circulation to function properly. Blood delivers oxygen to your brain and other organs. It helps you maintain healthy skin, and supports healthy cell growth.  

Think of your circulatory system like a two-lane highway. It carries oxygen and nutrients through your blood to your cells and tissues. And it shuttles away waste products.

And then the cycle continues. 

Enhancing blood flow is relatively easy, with regular exercise. Moving your body dilates your blood vessels, and things begin to run more smoothly, as they should. 

But what exercises work best, especially for your legs and feet? Here are a few:

Leg Extensions 

Leg extensions really benefit from ankle weights or something similar. And they’re not too complicated. 

Just add weight to your ankles, sit down on a chair, and lift your foot until your knee is entirely straightened.  

Hold for a few seconds and release. Aim for sets of 10 on each leg.

Hamstring Curls

For this exercise, you’ll stand and position yourself close to a table or chair. Bend your right knee, lifting your heel towards your bottom. Hold this position for a second and release your foot to the ground. Try to repeat this exercise ten times for three sets on each leg. 

Ankle Pumps

Choose a comfortable standing position. Then, lift your heels to put your weight on the balls of your feet. Squeeze your calf muscles for a second. Try to repeat 10-20 times. 

Pumping your calf muscles helps blood and lymph move through the veins and arteries of your lower leg. The best part about this exercise is you can do it anywhere, with no equipment at all.

Walking  

Walking is one of the best ways to stimulate blood circulation, if you’re mobile.  

The main benefit of walking is it helps you form new blood vessels in your legs. More blood vessels means more blood flow. For increased circulation, shoot for three or four times a week for 30 minutes.  

Massage 

Leg massages are great for stimulating circulation of blood and lymph, and they’re a great stress reducer too! There are several home devices you can try, and of course, if you can spring for a real, professional massage… it’s amazing.

There are other things you can try to boost circulation as well. Think of them as healthy habits that don’t just support circulation, they benefit your entire body.

First, try to avoid sitting down for too long. If your job has you sitting a lot, take regular pauses to stand and walk around, or at least switch positions. 

And crossing your legs while sitting  -- or worse, sitting ON them – is bad for circulation, and a tough habit to break if you’ve been doing it for a long time. 

Wearing comfortable shoes can also play a role here too. Shoes that are too tight can really inhibit blood flow. And of course, your diet makes a difference.  

Foods like fruits, nuts, cayenne, dark chocolate, or green tea can all stimulate circulation.

Still, the most important key to circulation is exercise. Finding a way to keep moving is critical – not just for your peace of mind, but to keep you feeling more energized, healthy and active every day.

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