Ways to Increase Blood Circulation

Maintaining good circulation is an important part of staying healthy and fit. People can imagine their circulatory system as a complex railroad system where blood, powered by the heart, travels throughout the system delivering oxygen and nutrients, and removing waste. Poor circulation can result in tingling, numbness, and reduced muscle function. In extreme cases, the result can be amputation and even death.

Cardiovascular Exercise

The heart is the circulatory system’s engine; keeping it strong and healthy will keep it pushing blood where it needs to go. The efficiency of the heart is measured in stroke volume (SV). The heart’s SV is the amount of blood the heart can expel in one beat. The higher the SV, the less the heart has to work to send blood to working muscles and organs. The American Council on Exercise points out that regular cardiovascular exercise improves stroke volume–at least 30 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or cycling, each day.

Strength Training

The heart is a muscle that needs to be strengthened through exertion. The temporary increases in blood pressure during weight training have a strengthening effect on the heart. A few times per week, people should engage in some resistance training, using basic exercises like the leg press and chest press. Simply starting a beginner circuit at a fitness center can get people on the right road to basic strength training.

Quit Smoking

Smokers may be doing serious damage to their circulatory system. The nicotine contained in cigarettes causes vasoconstriction, a narrowing of blood vessels which increases blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, Smoking also reduces HDL (good cholesterol) levels, leaving smokers more susceptible to arteriolosclerosis, a hardening of the coronary arteries.

Eat Healthy Fats

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are contained in foods like fish, olive oil, and avocado. Increasing a person’s intake of EFAs can raise his HDL levels, and reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis. The HDLs work to remove plaque from the coronary arteries, improving blood circulation.

About this Author

Based in the Greater New York area, David Benjamin is a veteran of the fitness industry of over 15 years. He is coauthor of “The Business and Practice of Personal Training” and has lectured to countless fitness professionals. Benjamin holds a degree in physical education from the State University of New York, Cortland.