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Exercises for Poor Circulation

author image Paul Elsass
Paul Elsass started writing in 1986. He has written articles for the Clinical Exercise Physiology Association and multiple medical-fitness centers. Elsass has certifications through the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Texas and a Master of Science in Management from Northern Arizona University.
Exercises for Poor Circulation
A man is stretching his neck. Photo Credit szefei/iStock/Getty Images


If you suffer from poor circulation, regular exercise can improve the problem. The American Council on Exercise recommends stretching to increase blood flow to your muscles, which can also hasten recovery from muscle aches and injuries. As you age, muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue tend to shorten and lose elasticity. Participating in a few simple exercises can enhance your flexibility and increase circulation throughout your body.

Ankles and Wrists

To get more blood flowing to your hands and feet, try rolling your ankles and wrists. If you are standing, place one hand on a chair or other object near hip height for support. Lift your right leg a few inches off the floor and draw circles with your toes 10 to 20 times in a clockwise direction. Reverse and complete 10 to 20 turns in a counterclockwise direction. Place your right foot back down and repeat the exercise with the left ankle. Raise your arms in front of you and turn both wrists in a clockwise direction for 10 to 20 turns. Repeat in a counterclockwise direction. You may also choose to roll one wrist at a time. Both the ankle and wrist exercises can also be performed while sitting on a chair or stability ball rather than in a standing position.

Torso and Arms

Reach up over your head, stretching your fingertips as high as you can as though you are trying to touch the ceiling and hold for a few seconds. Swaying your hips from side to side or belly dancing to your favorite tunes brings circulation to the midsection.

Create a bridge position with your body. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Your feet can either be touching the floor or your calves and feet can be draped over an exercise ball. Slowly lift your pelvis off the floor. If using a ball, straighten your legs and press your calves firmly into the ball and use your arms on the floor for support. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then slowly lower down. Repeat this exercise several times to improve blood flow to the abdominal and gluteal muscles.

Feet and Calves

Perform calf raises by standing with your feet hips-distance apart and raising up on your toes by lifting both heels off the floor. Lift and lower 10 times slowly and five more times at a faster pace. Try turning your toes in toward each other or face them outward during this exercise to change the way the muscles are working. Do the exercise in reverse, lifting the toes rather than the heels. These exercises can be done while sitting if you are unable to stand.

Neck and Shoulders

Slowly turn your head right, left, up and down as far as you can in each direction without discomfort. After performing this stretch several times, turn your head to the right. Drop your chin and slowly move your chin across your chest until you are facing left, with your chin just above your left shoulder. Do the same movement in reverse, from left to right.


Lie on your back, support your hips with your hands, bend at the knees and bicycle your legs forward and then backward. If you also wish to increase circulation to the torso, you may choose to perform this exercise in a sitting position with your legs lifted off the floor. You may also want to rest your hands or arms on the floor for support.

Whole Body

Any cardiovascular exercise will increase oxygen and blood flow to the muscles. Walking, swimming, cycling, or any other form of cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy will improve your circulation.

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