By Jerry Del Priore
As we age, our circulation is hampered by several factors: sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, and accompanying medical conditions due to the first two reasons.
Therefore, most people end up with is symptoms such as swelling in their feet and legs, cold and tingling in extremities, and sluggishness because the body isn’t transporting the necessary oxygen and nutrients needed for energy production.
However, there are several things you can do naturally to increase blood flow.
- Exercise and Increase Activity
First, if you’re not exercising at least three times a week, then start. Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to getting your heart pumping and up blood flow throughout your body.
As far as cardiovascular fitness goes, walking at a brisk pace is a great starting point, whether it’s on a treadmill or outside. Three to four times a week at a comfortable pace for the first few weeks should suffice.
If you want to start a jogging program, first, you’ll need to know a few things in order to maximize your effort and do it safely: Your resting and maximum heart rates.
How to determine your Resting and Maximum Heart Rates:
When you first wake up in the morning, take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side.
Use the tips of your first two fingers (not your thumb) to press lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist. Count to ten, and multiply by 6. This is resting heart rate.
Your MHR is 220 – your age. For example: if you’re 45, then your MHR is 175 beats per minute (BPM).
Note: The below information is sourced from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Intensity by heart rate: Moderate (e.g., 40%-60% maximum heart rate [MHR] to vigorous (e.g., 60%-90% MHR) intensity aerobic exercise is recommended for most older adults, and light (e.g., 30%-40% HRR) to moderate intensity aerobic exercise can be beneficial in individuals who are deconditioned.
Time: For moderate intensity physical activities, accumulate at least 30 or up to 60 (for greater benefit) minutes per day in sessions of at least 10 minutes each to total 150-300 min/week. Or at least 20-30 min/day of more vigorous intense physical activities to total 75-100 min/week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intense physical activity. Lower ranges are for adults who have not participated in any exercise program, or for frail individuals.
Type: Any modality that does not inflict excessive orthopedic stress on the body, such as brisk walking. Aquatic exercise and stationary cycle exercise may be beneficial for those with limited tolerance for weight-bearing activity (running and aerobics).
- Improve Your Diet and Add Circulation-boosting Nutrients and Substances
Start out by reducing your caloric intake and lower the fat content in your diet, which may lead to plaque build in your arties and produce atherosclerosis, hardening and narrowing of the arteries, over time.
Plus, include these vital vitamins, spices and herbs.
Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E can be helpful in enhancing blood flow.
Vitamin C helps to prevent plaque buildup in your arties and produces a mild
anticoagulant effect, which thins your blood, making circulation easier.
Foods high in Vitamin C are citrus fruits and broccoli.
Vitamin E is vasodilator, opening your blood vessels for better circulation, and prevents blood clots and strengthens your blood vessels.
Foods high in Vitamin E are nuts, seeds, wheat germ oil, eggs and olives.
Garlic has been known to dissolve tiny blood clots, have an antibacterial effect, and is high in antioxidants, which prevent free radical damage, responsible for many of the ill effects on the body.
Spices turmeric (with black pepper) and cayenne are natural blood thinners, with cayenne producing a warming sensation, which indicates improved blood movement.
The herb ginkgo biloba increases blood circulation to your extremities by reducing varicosities, swollen, twisted veins that can be seen just under the skin. This usually occurs in the legs, but can form in other areas of the body.
Ginkgo biloba may also improve memory by increasing circulation to your brain.
Butcher’s broom, also known as ruscus aculeatus, is a plant, which the root is made into herbal formulas. Butcher’s broom may help elevate symptoms of leg pain, heaviness, cramps, swelling, varicose veins, itching, and swelling.
- Engage in a Flexibility Routine
One of the most ignored segments of a fitness routine is flexibility. Increased flexibly, when performed correctly, improves blood circulation, as taught and tight muscles limit blood flow.
One of the best methods of flexibility training is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)—a type of athletic stretching technique, developed by Aaron Mattes (M.S.), that provides effective, dynamic, assisted stretching of major muscle groups.
The key to AIS is that stretches are held no longer than four-five seconds at a time, with each repetition moving a little further, said James Leonard, the manager and stretch practitioner at The Stretch Joint in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Stretching session should be performed two-three times a week, depending upon your needs. While there’s not one clear-cut formula to better blood flow, adding these recommendations should help you increase circulation while improving your overall body circulation.
Note: Please check with a physician before partaking in any type of fitness or health program.