When it comes to our health, regular exercise is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Fitness is about more than just looking good—it’s essential for feeling our best and living our healthiest lives. Those with circulation issues know the pain and discomfort that can arise from the conditions that lead to this problem. However, there are steps you can take to alleviate your pain and improve circulation in your blood flow, and it begins with three simple exercises most anyone can do at their own convenience.
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What is Poor Circulation?
Our muscles need oxygen to properly function, oxygen that is delivered via smooth and healthy blood flow. In fact, good circulation is vital to living a healthy life. There are many factors that come into play when determining good circulation, including a strong heart, normal blood pressure, and undamaged, unclogged blood vessels.
With poor circulation, your body will take blood from areas where it isn’t as vital—for example, your extremities—leading to cramping and pain in these places. It is generally a sign of another health issue, so it’s important not to ignore any signs or symptoms that crop up.
What Causes Poor Circulation?
Poor circulation can be caused by various conditions, so it’s important to get it checked out to learn what you can do to treat it. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs, leading to muscle cramping in the hips, thighs, or buttocks. If left untreated, PAD can lead to amputation, so take getting a professional screening seriously.
Chronic venous insufficiency is another potential cause of poor circulation. CVI means that the one-way valves in your veins are diseased or damaged, allowing blood to flow backwards and pool in your legs.
Exercise: What’s Good and What Isn’t
We all know that exercise is essential for a healthy life. Exercise keeps your body moving and your heart pumping, all things that are essential for good blood flow. It ensures that we aren’t static and that blood isn’t sitting in one area for too long.
While movement is essential for good blood flow, be careful with certain types of exercise. Activities such as weightlifting, crunches, sit-ups, and yoga poses that require prolonged posturing may do you more harm than good.
In addition, exercise that increases blood flow to the legs could lead to increased pressure and swelling. So running may not be the best choice for those with circulation issues. It also increases stress on the joints, which can be problematic for the aging population.
Take Your Daily Walk
One of the best exercises you can do for your legs and veins is also one of the easiest—walking. Poor circulation can lead to leg and foot cramping when these muscles are starved of oxygen. Walking helps stimulate the flow of blood, and in turn sends much-needed oxygen to the tissue in your extremities. Plus, all that walking that’s doing the work to get your heart pumping is also strengthening that muscle and improving overall cardiovascular health.
You have vast possibilities for where you choose to walk. On nice days, take your fitness routine outdoors to the park. If it’s raining or too hot or cold, you can power walk indoors at the mall before it opens. You can even get a walk in during the work day—-on your lunch break, throw on your sneakers and take a lap aroud the parking lot or parking garage.
Pump the Pedals
Just like with walking, biking and other aerobic exercise gets your heart pumping and keeps blood flowing smoothly. Unlike many forms of aerobic activity, biking is low-impact and perfect for almost anyone, as it doesn’t put too much pressure on your joints. If you want the added bonus of fresh air rejuvenating you while you ride, you may want to invest in a bicycle. You can listen to the sounds of nature or put in your headphones and enjoy a light background soundtrack.
If outdoor exercise isn’t your thing, you can purchase an indoor exercise bike for your home. You can choose from a regular exercise bike or a recumbent bike, which is a good option for those who have back pain. Indoor biking has the added advantage of entertainment while you ride. Just put on your favorite TV show or movie, and the time will fly by as you get in your workout.
Jump in the Pool
Another exercise that is beneficial for people who suffer from other conditions such as joint pain is swimming. Gliding through the water gets your heart beating while not putting too much strain on your body. When it’s not pool season, you can find many opportunities to swim by joining your local gym or recreation center. Develop your own swimming routine or be adventurous and join a water aerobics class. Whatever it takes to get your blood flowing!
The most important thing to remember is that movement is good for your heart, and a healthy heart encourages good circulation. When starting any exercise routine, take it easy in the beginning until you know what you can handle. Get out there and move and enjoy all the benefits fitness has to offer you!
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