Need to get your blood pumping? Here are 5 ways to boost your circulation

The circulatory system plays a vital role in keeping you alive. Check out five easy ways to keep yours in good working order.

Circulation is probably one of those things you never (or rarely) think about, even though it’s crucial to your health and wellbeing.

It may be ticking away quietly in the background, but it’s one of your hardest working parts.

Made up of your heart and blood vessels, your circulatory system, also known as your cardiovascular system, nourishes and maintains each of your body’s 50 trillion cells, delivering oxygen throughout your body and helping to eliminate waste.

What causes poor circulation?

Plaque build-up, blood clots and narrowed blood vessels are some of the issues that can lead to poor circulation, Sydney GP Dr Michela Sorensen explains.

“When blood flow to a certain part of your body is reduced, you might start experiencing symptoms of poor circulation,” Dr Sorensen says.

“It’s most common in your extremities, which are the furthest distance away from your heart.”

Signs of poor circulation

“You might feel a numbness or tingling, like pins and needles, and notice that your hands or feet are cool or cold and white or pale blue in colour,” Dr Sorensen says.

“It’s common to experience pins and needles once in a while, however if they occur frequently you should see a health professional.

“Constant dry and flaky skin and wounds that won’t heal are other things to look out for,” she says.

Diabetes and Raynaud’s disease both cause symptoms of poor blood circulation and while not circulatory diseases, still need to be taken seriously, Dr Sorensen says.

“Good circulation depends on a number of factors, including a strong and healthy heart and healthy veins and arteries and normal blood pressure,” she says.

How to help boost your circulation

Many lifestyle factors affect circulation, including smoking, weight, exercise and diet.

Try these few simple and easy tips to ensure your circulatory system is in optimal working order.

1. Ditch the ciggies

For Dr Sorensen, this is top of the list.

“Smoking is one of the key risk factors for poor circulation, damaging blood vessels and the heart,” she says.

Studies show chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause the cells that line your blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed, leaving you more likely to develop atherosclerosis – plaque build-up in the arteries.

2. Eat heart-healthy foods

With new ABS data revealing just 6.1 per cent of Australian adults and 8.5 per cent of kids eat the recommended serves of both fruit and vegetables, dietitian Geraldine Georgeou advises upping intake of both.

“Leafy greens are known for being high in iron but they’re also high in nitrates, which can help manage blood pressure and help with blood flow,” Geraldine says.

“And try to limit foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugars.”

3. Try some turmeric and oily fish

“The curcumin found in turmeric helps increase nitric oxide production, reduce oxidative stress and decrease inflammation,” Geraldine says.

“Oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are great too, containing omega-3 fatty acids, which your body doesn’t make naturally, and which have been found to thin the blood and prevent it from clotting as well as possibly lower blood pressure.”

4. Move your body

“Movement of all kinds helps circulation because it increases blood flow, getting your heart pumping oxygen rich blood around your body,” Dr Sorensen says.

And in a win, win, the better your circulatory system works, the better you’ll feel when you are working out.

Getting your ommm on is also a good thing.

A review of evidence published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology found yoga was beneficial for the cardiovascular system.

5. Don’t forget to stay hydrated

“This is an important one, especially in the winter when people can forget they need to keep their water intake up,” Dr Sorensen says.

“When you’re dehydrated your blood volume can decrease, leading to a drop in blood pressure, and your blood also retains more sodium, making it thicker.”

And when you’ve had your fill of water, try some tea.

Scientists have found white, black and green tea all work to keep your heart and blood vessels happy.

Written by Liz McGrath.