Blood circulation is responsible for sending oxygen-rich blood to your body’s extremities, and transporting deprived cells so that they can be replenished. It’s a symbiotic system that works efficiently. However, age, pre-existing conditions, and genetics can potentially affect blood circulation.
Poor blood flow manifests itself as tingly fingers, numb legs, and throbbing pain. For athletes, poor blood circulation can make workouts painful and uncomfortable. Certain exercises help to gently warm up your body, which is recommended before strenuous activity. By warming up your muscles, you are gradually improving their elasticity and blood flow.
Yoga is known to help lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce stress levels. Stress has a correlation with poor blood circulation, with high amounts of stress causing the sympathetic nervous system to go into overdrive, constricting the blood vessels as your body engages in the flight or fight response.
Yoga has a myriad of benefits that tackles blood circulation from several angles. Yogic movements and stances gently stretch the muscles, causing a gradual increase in blood circulation. Controlled breathing helps to circumvent your body’s response to stress, preventing the blood vessels from narrowing. Long stroking movements also stimulate the fibrous tissues in the body, increasing the permeability of fluids.
The downward facing dog is particularly useful in improving blood circulation. This stance will have your body looking like an inverted V. It’s a full body position that will enhance your posture, blood circulation, and help with a knotted back, which tends to happen if you are suffering from stress.
Start with a brisk walk. Any exercise that elevates your heart rate will naturally improve circulation and that also includes walking. Nordic walking is a modified version of the brisk walk that uses walking poles like those found in skiing. Studies have shown that Nordic walking can improve venous blood flow in the lower extremities.
Seated spinal twist: This exercise is easy, as it requires you to sit straight up on a stable chair, crossing your left leg over your right, and then twisting your body towards your crossed leg while exhaling. Repeat this on the other side to release tension in your lower back and improve blood flow to the trunk of your body.
Use a stability ball: You can improve your posture and blood flow by periodically using an exercise ball as an office chair. The exercise ball will force your body to balance itself by engaging your abdominal muscles. This muscle activity will increase blood flow as your abdominal wall will be involved while sitting.
Phytonutrients are organic compounds found in most plants. They are anti-inflammatory, helping to restore damage done to the arteries due to poor blood flow. A diet rich in phytonutrients can help prevent the cumulative damage on the body stemming from poor blood circulation. Increase your consumption of phytonutrients by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as supplementing your diet with seeds, nuts and legumes.