Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of blood circulation through the body promotes a healthy, strong cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system -- also called the circulatory system -- consists of the heart, the blood and complex networks of blood vessels called arteries, veins and capillaries. The circulatory system transports blood, nutrients and oxygen through the body and removes certain waste products. Natural ways to increase blood circulation commonly involve lifestyle modifications that have been approved by a health-care professional.
No More Butts
Cigarette smoking damages your heart and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Even breathing secondhand smoke can weaken your heart's ability to properly pump blood through the circulatory system. The American Heart Association's Guide for Improving Cardiovascular Health points out that healthier lifestyles lead to reduced cardiovascular disease and improved blood circulation. Not smoking -- or quitting if you do -- is part of a healthier lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle in which fewer than 30 minutes per day are spent being physically active contributes to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and decreased efficiency in the body's circulatory system. Aerobic exercise increases blood circulation by raising your heart rate, which causes the heart to circulate blood more rapidly. Walking regularly for exercise strengthens the heart, enabling blood to circulate more quickly to muscles and improve circulation to small blood vessels.
A Healthy Diet
Drinking plenty of water each day helps you maintain a normal blood volume, which is needed for good circulation. In addition to proper hydration, a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains supports your cardiovascular health by keeping your heart muscle strong and functioning normally. A healthy diet also decreases your risk for high cholesterol and fatty deposits forming in blood vessels, which can weaken the heart and impair circulation.
If the Shoe Fits
Shoes and boots that are ill-fitting can decrease blood circulation by compressing your toes, feet and ankles. This creates pressure that flattens blood vessels and interferes with normal circulation. Shoes that don't fit properly can also cause swelling in the feet and legs that further interferes with circulating blood. Shoes that fit correctly will help to increase blood circulation and may decrease the risk of future circulatory problems.
- National Institutes of Health: Circulation and Blood Vessels
- American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine: Walking and Your Feet -- Benefits of Exercise Walking
- American Heart Association: Circulation, Peripheral Arterial Disease
- American Heart Association: Circulation, American Heart Association Guide for Improving Cardiovascular Health at the Community Level
- American Heart Association: Circulation, AHA Guidelines for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke -- 2002 Update