In fact, your circulatory system is one of the seven vital systems of your body, meaning its healthy function is important for maintaining your mobility, avoiding heart disease, keeping your brain sharp, and flushing toxins from your body and skin.
When you support good circulation, you ensure that blood and oxygen is able to flow continuously throughout the body, allowing every organ to function properly.
Not only that, healthy circulation is key for slowing the ageing process and avoiding many common degenerative dis-eases.
Here, we explain in simple terms what the circulatory system is, how it works, and 4 ways you can boost your circulation naturally as part of your self care routine for better health.
What Is Circulation & How It Works
When functioning optimally, your circulatory system raises oxygen levels in your body and dispatches congestion and waste out of the blood via the lymphatic stream.
However, when your circulation is limited, nutrients and oxygen-carrying blood cannot efficiently pass through your arteries to and from your cells.
The problem with poor circulation is that it can lead to cardiovascular diseases and a variety of ailments and disorders which are directly linked to a lack of circulation in the body. These include:
- Muscle & Joint Pain
- Skin Disorders
- Varicose Veins
- Blood Clots
- Heart Disease and;
This is why improving your circulation is not only important for helping your body feel better every day, but also for your general longevity and quality of life as you age.
Of course, there are conventional options for treating poor circulation such as synthetic medications prescribed by many doctors. However, these products also come with the risk of troubling side-effects and can lead to unwanted dependency.
This is why adjustments to your lifestyle and self care practices is a far better approach for supporting healthy circulation within your body over the long term.
Following are 4 of our favourite practices for improving your circulation naturally, as well as some recommended foods you should prioritise in your diet that will help boost the performance of your circulatory system.
1. Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular exercise (often simply referred to as "cardio"), is one of the best ways to improve circulation within your body because it causes the heart to pump oxygenated blood through the arteries faster.
The word "cardiovascular" specifically relates to the heart (cardio) and the blood vessels (vascular). A good cardio workout makes your heart work harder and faster, delivering more oxygen-rich blood in an efficient manner to all of your muscles, organs and tissues.
When you raise your heart rate during cardio vascular exercise, the respiratory system responds by getting more oxygen into the lungs. At the same time, the heart begins to pump more oxygenated blood throughout your body.
The good news is that there are many different forms of cardiovascular exercise to suit your age, level or fitness and your general health goals. Some of the best forms of cardio exercise include:
- Circuit Training
- Hot Yoga and;
- Interval Training
Out of all of these choices, you should make brisk walking your number one priority as a base line and then work up from there.
In fact, studies show that just 20-30 minutes of brisk walking 3-4 times per week can greatly boost circulation, even among people with peripheral artery disease.
If you can, it's best to get outside in the early morning and walk briskly as often as possible. Not only will you receive fantastic cardio benefits, but you'll also activate all of your senses, you'll breathe fresh air into your lungs, connect with nature and do a lot for your mind clarity.
2. Remedial & Sports Massage
Massage is a very effective way to not only release muscle tension and promote relaxation, but also to boost oxygen flow and circulation throughout your body.
The most common types of massages are remedial, sports / deep tissue and Swedish massages. Generally, deep tissue sports massages are a little firmer and more intense than remedial and Swedish massages, which tend to be more gentle and relaxing.
Massages relax you and your muscles, which causes the blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood to flow through them. At the same time, pressure from the hands helps move blood through constricted areas that may be causing pain or tension within the body.
As an extra benefit, you’ll notice less tension and pain because of the increased circulation of blood to the muscles.
Any type of massage you receive regularly will definitely help boost your circulation so you should definitely incorporate some form of massage into your self care routine. Find a local masseuse in your area and schedule a 1 hour massage at least once per month. When you do this as a maintenance protocol, you'll notice you'll have more freedom of movement in your body and less tension and pain.
3. Infra Red & Hot Rock Saunas
Saunas expose the body to a very dry heat which helps to relax the muscles, improve circulation and stimulate the release of 'feel good' endorphins.
When you sit in a sauna, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels widen. This increases circulation, in a similar way to how moderate cardiovascular exercise does over a 20-30 minute session.
There are two main types of saunas - traditional hot rock saunas and infrared saunas. Though each is a little different, both have their benefits and are very effective for not only supporting healthy circulation, but also boosting metabolism and detoxifying the body via the skin.
These days most large cities and towns have gyms and recovery centres that offer both hot rock and infra red sauna sessions as part of their service offering.
To improve circulation and receive many additional amazing health benefits, look for one of these centres in your area and schedule a sauna session for yourself weekly or fortnightly if you can.
To learn more about the benefits of infra red saunas, visit our blog: 5 Ways Infra-Red Saunas Support Better Health
4. Hot Salt Baths & Brushing
One of the easiest at-home ways you can improve your circulation is by enjoying a hot salt bath once or twice per week.
Hot baths infused with mineral rich Epsom Salts, Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt are wonderful ways to not only relax, but also to ease tired muscles and joints, relieve stress, calm irritated skin and to stimulate healthy circulation.
The combination of warm water and the mineral rich salts are very effective for penetrating the skin and pushing blood through the arteries and veins.
Additionally, brushing your body with salt and/or a loofa sponge prior to bathing is a great way to open the pores of the skin, making it easier for the nutrients in the hot bath to soak into the blood stream.
To prepare a hot salt bath, add 1-2 cups of epsom salts, sea salt or himalayan pink salt or a combination of all three to a hot running bath. As an optional extra, add a squirt of chemical-free or Pure Castile soap and 10-15 drops of your favourite essential oils. Great choices include, Lavender, Orange and Eucalyptus oil.
Dim the lights, light a candle, grab a book or turn on some light music and soak your whole body for 20-30 minutes. Do this 2-3 times per week to support healthy circulation.
Other Lifestyle Tips
First and foremost, when it comes to supporting a healthy circulatory system, it's crucial to avoid smoking. Even though this should go without saying, it must be highlighted and reinforced that smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your circulation because cigarette smoke narrows the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow for the entire body.
Drink Enough Water
Your body and brain are made up of around 70% water which needs to be replenished constantly to ensure your optimum body function.
The problem with not drinking enough water is; when you are dehydrated, your blood retains more sodium, thickening your blood and making it harder for your blood to circulate through your body.
Therefore, by keeping your body hydrated your heart will be able to pump blood more easily, allowing oxygen to reach your muscles and allow your body to run more efficiently.
You should aim to drink an absolute minimum of two litres of water per day. However optimally, it's best to aim for 1 litre per 22 kilograms of your body weight as a guide. The easiest way to achieve this is to drink 1/2 to 1 litre of water first thing in the morning when you rise, another 1/2 litre during and after your morning exercise and then to sip water throughout the day.
Eat More Of These Foods
Certain foods from nature's table are known for their powers in supporting blood flow and the health of the circulatory system. These include:
- Ruby Grapefruit
- Citrus Fruits
- Leafy Greens
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Omega Fatty Acids - sourced in particular from raw nuts, seeds and flax seed oil.
Incorporate these foods as part of a clean diet that is rich in a variety of seasonal fresh produce.
In addition, limit refined sugars and grains, chemical/processed foods, industrial seed oils and fatty takeaway foods, as all of these are inflammatory and will eventually contribute to poor circulation in your body.
The Main Take Away
Healthy circulation is vital for a healthy functioning body and for avoiding everything from muscle pain to heart disease and everything in between.
While poor circulation is something that you may not notice from day-to-day, it is definitely something that can creep up on you and cause serious health concerns eventually if you don't embrace good self care practices over time.
When you have good circulation you will have minimal signs of pain or inflammation in your body, which is how it should be.
To experience this yourself on an ongoing basis, be sure to prioritise the steps shared with you here as part of your general, everyday wellness routine...and you'll go a long way to ensuring that your body has good circulation and is able to perform at it's best.
Tolman Self Care.