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5 Ways to Increase Blood Flow and Circulation — and Why It’s Important

May 18, 2022

Poor circulation not only affects the way we look and feel, but it can also be life-threatening. Learn how to increase blood flow and circulation in this week’s guest post.

Updated July 2023.

Profile of pretty dark skinned African lady with colourful face and shoulder markings - increased blood flow and circulation improves your skin appearance and health

Sit quietly for a moment and feel your chest. Can you sense your heart beating? That’s the precious energy of life flowing through your body, bathing every cell with vital oxygen, nutrients and energy.

However, relatively few people pay much attention to their circulatory system. Preventive medicine is worth its weight in gold, sparing you from uncomfortable and even potentially fatal conditions.

Here are five ways to increase blood flow and circulation — and why it’s important.

Why Blood Flow and Circulation Are Important

Your circulatory system carries oxygen-rich blood to every organ in your body. Limbs and organs can die if you don’t have enough blood flow.

  • Although doctors now know that paresthesia — the feeling you get when your foot falls asleep — has more to do with pinched nerves than circulation, remember that your body’s systems evolved to work together.
    • That uncomfortable pins-and-needles sensation tells you to get moving to restore circulation.

  • Have you heard that you should stand up periodically when flying on an aeroplane?
    • That’s because blood clots can form in the deep veins of your legs.
  • After all, you’re not moving, creating a condition called deep vein thrombosis. You could experience a fatal pulmonary embolism if these travel to your lungs.
    • That’s why you should know how to improve poor blood circulation and decrease your chances of developing such a clot.

  • Maintaining adequate circulation also ensures the valves inside each vessel continue operating correctly. Varicose veins appear when they don’t.
    • Far from a merely cosmetic issue, these can cause painful symptoms, impeding your daily activities. Exercise corrects the problems for some, but other cases may require surgery.

  • Your extremities hurt more when you have poor blood flow. For example, it can worsen or trigger arthritis symptoms. You can get more blood circulation in your hands using the tips below.

  • Gangrene results when blood flow to a limb becomes permanently restricted.
    • This potentially fatal condition requires surgery that often removes large sections of flesh, leading to deformity.
  • Sometimes, physicians can use maggots to devour the rotten tissue — but it’s easier to preserve your circulation than deal with bugs eating your dead skin while you’re still alive.

  • Perhaps the greatest danger of impaired circulation occurs when you restrict flow to the brain.
    • Brain death can occur within the first four to six minutes of asphyxiation. Seeking immediate care for drowning or strangulation victims is essential to minimize damage.
Side view image of the head and neck showing the blood vessels - Increase blood flow and circulation

5 Ways to Increase Blood Flow and Circulation

Now that you understand why blood flow and circulation are important, how can you improve yours? The following five tips have stood the test of time and are science-based.

1. Exercise

A regular exercise program is your best friend for improving blood flow and circulation.

It’s also your best remedy for improving blood circulation in your hands. Cardiovascular activity tones your heart muscle, making it pump more effectively.

Although the muscle found in your organs isn’t the same as that making up your biceps, it still strengthens with use.

However, that’s not the only way working out improves your circulation and cardiovascular health.

Everything in your body works as a holistic unit; your mind can impact your ticker.

Chronic stress can even rewire your brain, keeping your blood pressure elevated and putting you at higher risk of cardiovascular events and stroke.

Exercise mitigates stress.

It reduces cortisol levels by tapping into your body’s innate fight-or-flight system, letting this hormone dissipate the way nature intended.

It also prompts your brain to release juicy endorphins, natural chemicals that ease pain and improve mood.

Finally, a regular exercise program can mitigate adverse habits that complicate cardiovascular health and circulation.

For example, smoking causes your arteries to harden, making vessels less pliable and more trouble-prone.

However, folks who partake in a 6 a.m. run are unlikely to smoke. They’re also less likely to get hangover drunk, which strains the heart.

2. Massage

A professional massage is one of the best passive ways to improve blood flow and circulation. There’s no pumping iron or treadmill involved. You merely lay back on the table and let your practitioner work their magic.

However, massage isn’t brain surgery or rocket science — you can learn to DIY.

This activity can also bring you and your partner closer. Why not consider taking an introductory class together or sitting down with Udemy one weekend to master the art?

You can find courses as inexpensive as $10, allowing you to master effleurage and tapotement.

Another bargain boon for blood flow is investing in inexpensive foam rollers. These devices work like charms to improve circulation when you roll on them. They also provide considerable back pain relief.

Yet another pro tip involves taking a tennis ball and putting it in a sock. You can use it to roll out the muscles of your back, calves and upper legs, boosting circulation.

3. Stay Hydrated

Did you know one tip for how to increase blood flow and circulation lies in your water bottle? Blood is liquid; after all — you need enough fluids to maintain your balance.

You probably know that eating too much salt isn’t good for your heart — but have you ever questioned why?

It’s because sodium pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing volume and pressure. It’s like a dam trying to hold back too much water. Eventually, it cracks, resulting in a heart attack.

Drinking plenty of water is one way to dilute your bloodstream, ensuring you don’t have excess electrolytes causing an imbalance.

Dehydration also damages your heart. It decreases the amount of blood in your veins and creates strain, causing your ticker to beat faster.

Your best bet is to carry a reusable water bottle with you and sip often.

Thirst is your first reliable indicator of dehydration, so avoid letting yourself get parched. If you find the taste of plain water bland, try carbonating it with a SodaStream or similar device and adding fruit for flavour.

Avoid beverages containing alcohol and caffeine — these dehydrate you further by increasing urination.

Giving a foot massage helps increase blood flow and circulation

4. Avoid Harmful Substances

Stay away from nicotine-containing products, alcohol, and drugs your doctor didn’t prescribe.

Nicotine doesn’t only harden your arteries. It also increases blood pressure and produces an adrenaline spike that elevates your heart attack risk.

Even one alcoholic beverage increases your blood pressure.

The effects reverse when you quit drinking, but a heavy, sustained habit can have devastating consequences.

Other drugs like cocaine also increase your heart rate and pressure, putting you at an elevated attack and stroke risk.

5. Wear Compression Garments

Gravity takes a toll on the human body over time.

Anyone who’s looked in the mirror with dismay at their sagging jowls knows this.

It can also impact circulation, making it harder for blood to return to your heart from your extremities, particularly your lower ones.

The solution is to wear compression garments that take the pressure off your valves by helping blood return to your heart.

These items are a must for anyone who works on their feet, is prone to varicose veins or both.

You might even find wearing compression hose under your slacks comfortable — nobody will know your secret.

Improve Blood Circulation Naturally

Increasing blood flow and circulation is vital to maintaining healthy functioning.

Every organ in your body requires a continuous bath of oxygen and nutrients to function at its best.

Take the five steps above to increase your blood flow and circulation. You’ll enjoy improved energy and better overall health.

More Reading

Edited by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and help promote quality healthcare.

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

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