Improve your circulation in 7 easy steps

Written by
Helen West

If you suffer from poor circulation, you know how miserable it can be - especially in winter.

Your ankles swell. Your feet fall asleep and your fingers and toes are always cold. You might even suffer from digestive problems.

Poor circulation isn't just uncomfortable. It could be a symptom of something more serious, like peripheral artery disease. If left untreated, it can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to improve your circulation. So if you want to get your blood pumping  - and be able to feel your fingers this winter - read on!

1) Take a warm bath

A soak in the tub is a great way to unwind. But did you know a warm bath could also improve your circulation?

The heat from the water stimulates blood flow. It also causes your arteries and veins to expand, making it easier for your heart to pump the blood around your body.

Bath towels folded in a basket

The heat from a warm bath helps widen your blood vessels, stimulating the flow of blood around your body and improving your circulation.

Drinking hot water or tea has the same effect, widening your blood vessels and helping your blood flow more easily.

As if you needed an excuse to enjoy a hot bath with a steaming cup of tea on a cold day!

2) Drink lots of water

You've probably heard that you should drink between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day. But what does this look like - and why does it matter?

6 to 8 glasses of water equates to between 1.2 and 1.5 litres, or between two and two and a half pints. This the minimum amount of water you should be drinking.

Water is an important component of blood, which is why dehydration can contribute to poor circulation. When you're properly hydrated, your blood flows more easily around your body.

Lower fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count towards your fluid intake.

3) Pay attention to your diet

Any stories about 'superfoods' that will magically improve your circulation overnight should be taken with a pinch of salt. But there are certain foods that can help.

When your body doesn't get enough nutrients, blood vessels become fragile. This makes it difficult for your blood to circulate properly. Vitamin C is used by the body to strengthen the blood vessel walls, ensuring blood can travel to where it's needed.

Fruit salad in a bowl on a checked table cloth

The body uses vitamin C to build and strengthen the walls of your blood vessels, aiding healthy blood flow.

Other foods that are believed to be good for your cardiovascular system include garlic, which may reduce blood pressure, and ginger, which has anti-inflammatory properties. But unfortunately, no single food can work miracles.

What we do know is that eating a balanced diet is important for maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can raise your blood cholesterol levels and increase your blood pressure, both of which can contribute to poor circulation. 

4) Get some exercise

No, you don't need to run a marathon! But moderate exercise it vital for a healthy circulatory system.

Sitting down for a long time slows your blood flow. So whether you're sat behind a desk at work or sat in front of the television in your living room, you'll feel the benefits of moving more.

The best type of exercise to improve your circulation is aerobic exercise, like jogging, swimming, and cycling. But that isn't possible for everyone.

If you're able to, trying going for a brisk walk round your local park or down to the shops. If you find movement difficult, yoga can also help improve your blood flow. Or try these 5 simple exercises you can do sitting down.

5) Give body brushing a go

Have you heard of body brushing? Believe it or not, brushing is no longer just for your hair.

Body brushing involves gently brushing your skin with a dry, soft scrub brush or bristle brush. It's a way of exfoliating your skin without the need for harsh scrubs or chemicals.

Body brushing your skin in circular motions improve circulation

Gently brushing your skin with a dry bristle brush clears away dead skin cells and stimulates blood vessels close to the surface. Image: Goop.

But body brushing has an additional benefit. It encourages blood flow and helps deliver oxygen to your cells. You can brush your whole body, from the soles of your feet all the way up to your arms. It can even help reduce varicose and spider veins.

Is there a huge amount of scientific evidence to back up the benefits of body brushing? The answer is no. But it can be incredibly relaxing. The most important thing is to brush gently!

6) Compression socks

Compression socks or stockings really do work. They're designed to apply pressure to your lower legs, helping to maintain blood flow and reduce swelling and discomfort.

You can buy your own compression socks. But if you have a condition that causes poor blood flow in your legs, such as varicose veins or lymphoedema, you may be able to get them on prescription from your GP.

Your GP or nurse will also measure your legs, to make sure your compression socks are the correct size and provide the right amount of compression.

Some people only need to wear compression socks for a short period of time - for instance, to help them recovery after surgery. If you have a condition that affects your circulation, you may need to wear them for the rest of your life.

7) Elevate your feet

If you suffer from poor circulation, your doctor may recommend that you raise your feet above the level of your hips.

This position relieves discomfort by reducing swelling in your lower legs and ankles. That's because when your feet are raised, your body is better able to pump your blood from your extremities back to your heart.

Woman reclines with her feet elevated in a red Middletons Balmoral rise and recline chair

But propping your feet up on your coffee table or with cushions and pillows at night never feels quite right. It can cause you to sit or lie awkwardly - and they always move.

That's where a rise and recline chair or adjustable bed can help. Our high leg lift motor, which is available with many of our rise and recline chairs, gently tilts your chair back while keeping you in a comfortable, ninety-degree sitting position.

This means you can keep your feet raised while relaxing with your favourite book or enjoying an evening in front of the television.

If you often wake up with swollen or painful ankles, elevating your feet overnight will provide you with much-needed relief. Or, if back pain is what keeps you up at night, you can raise your upper body and find your most comfortable sleeping position.

Had enough of the symptoms of poor circulation? Call us free today on 0800 999 2831 and find out how we can help!

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