All You Need To Know About Strengthening Your Circulatory System

1 GET MOVING

We know that exercise gets the blood pumping around your body, but you don’t have to commit to difficult and intensive sessions to reap the benefits – in fact, you can fit exercise in quite easily around your daily life. Caroline Bragg, PT for andbreathepostnatal.com, recommends short bursts of activity for the best results: “If you sit still for long periods of time – perhaps work from home – get up and do some step-ups on the stairs or run up the stairs in bursts of 30 seconds, then walk down and rest for 15 seconds before going again. Do this in sets of six. If you burst-rest-repeat like this a few times throughout the day, it will build up fitness gradually.” There are many simple ways to fit exercise into your day, says Caroline: “Mini, micro-bursts of activity, like doing squats or pelvic floor lifts while waiting for the kettle to boil or sending an email on your phone are winners – by the end of the day you’ll have done more than you think and 8 will feel the positive results.”

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2 EAT WELL

“Diet, exercise and drinking two litres of water a day can help prevent poor circulation,” says Lesley Reynolds, author, co-founder of the Harley Street Skin
Clinic and ITV’s This Morning regular. Lesley suggests the following foods to boost your system:

Asparagus helps strengthen veins and capillaries and controls blood pressure. It’s also a good source of vitamins A, and B

Bananas are good for blood vessels and assisting in healthy circulation, plus they’re rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and magnesium

Broccoli contains alpha lipoic acid, which helps prevent damage to arterial walls, caused by sugar. It’s also a good source of selenium and calcium

Citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C. Orange contain bioflavonoids, which can improve circulation and strengthen capillaries

Oily fish, like salmon, sardines, tuna, trout and bass, are high in essential fatty acids which fight bad cholesterol

Pears are good detoxifiers – they can help reduce the effects of pollutants in the body, assisting the lymphatic system. A great source of fibre and potassium,
too

Pineapple has an anti-inflammatory action in the body that can help fight fluid retention and aid in the

3 USE HOME REMEDIES

Cordelia Gaffar, health and fitness coach and founder of workoutaroundmyday.com says you can support your system with a few storecupboard ingredients: “Drinking water with one-quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper helps overall circulation, but isn’t recommended for those with heart issues. Try starting the day by drinking warm water with lemon – this aids circulation because it detoxes your liver,” she says. “Soaking your feet in room temperature apple cider vinegar water – use half a cup to one gallon of water – helps circulation, too.”

4 SCRUB UP

Rev yourself up with a different kind of caffeine hit to your normal cup of coffee! “Make a body scrub out of coffee grounds, and massage it in, using circular movements, concentrating on any areas with cellulite – the caffeine and massage increase circulation and help to shift toxins,” says skin expert Lesley. “I also recommend dry body brushing before you shower, always start at your feet and work up towards your heart in circular movements.” These simple additions to your daily routine can really help, and take hardly any time or effort.

5 GIVE YOGA A GO

With the focus on breathing, stretching, and inversions (poses in which your heart is higher than your head) yoga really helps to get things flowing around your body. “For a really beneficial short sequence try sun salutation A,” says Ciara Jean Roberts, yoga teacher and naturopathic nutritionist (whollyaligned.com).

“This creates heat by increasing heart rate and firing up all major muscle groups.” Ciara explains how to do it: Start off in a standing position, with your feet together or up to hip distance apart. Inhale through your nose, raising both arms up above your head and joining your hands in prayer looking upwards towards your thumbs. Exhale as you bow forwards, drawing your arms down with you into a standing forward fold, allowing your head to relax entirely. Inhale, and raise your gaze while straightening legs and lengthening your spine pressing the fingertips gently into the tops of your shins or floor in front of your feet.

Exhale, bend knees to plant both 5 hands firmly to the ground and stepping back into a plank position (body in one long line or you can modify to the knees). Inhale while you are in plank, then exhale, lower your knees, chin, chest to the floor keeping hips elevated and inhale slide the thighs down rising up with the head and shoulders into a cobra pose.

Exhale press back, coming down to knees if necessary, into downward facing dog (akin to an upside down V-shape). Hands as wide as the shoulders and bend the knees if you need to. Take a few breaths here. On an inhale, look between your hands and step your feet to that space arriving in a standing forward fold once more, knees bending as much as needed.

Inhale to rise back up, elevating your arms up above your head and exhale as you return your arms back by your sides. “Repeat this sequence as many times as feels comfortable for you. Start slowly with the intention of moving towards one breath, one movement. Always make sure you rest when you feel that you need to”

6 LIMIT SALT

Cutting down on salt in your diet is a simple way yo give your health a boost, Additional flavour can be added to your meals by swapping salt out in favour of herbs or spices.“Eating too much salt is bad news for overall health and negatively impacts on blood circulation as it can harden the arteries, preventing blood from flowing freely through the body,” warns nutritional therapist Hayley Nestor (clickfortherapy.com). “Processed foods are notoriously high in salt so avoid them where possible.”

7 SPICY UP YOUR MEALTIMES

The humble curry has maximum gains in the circulation stakes, so it is a great excuse to get cooking! Capsaicin in chillies stimulates your nervous system and has a warming effect – garlic is known to thin blood and strengthen capillaries; and turmeric is another winning remedy. “Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric helps to reduce blood stickiness making it less likely to clot, and by also lowering plaque build up in the arteries, it’s great for improving blood circulation,” says nutritionist Julie Lamble. “People who take curcumin supplements can see positive effects on their blood flow similar to those from regular exercise.” Try Super Herbs Super Strength Curcumin (£14.99, lifeplan. co.uk), which contains piperine, for effective absorption plus manganese and vitamin C. “Vit C contributes to collagen formation and for the normal function of cartilage, bones, blood vessels and tendons,” adds Julie.

8 TREAT YOURSELF

“Massage is a great way to naturally boost your blood circulation, by helping to release toxins, ease tight muscles, and loosening connective tissue, which allows blood to move better in areas where tension once blocked it,” says Natalie Hart from Titanic Spa (titanicspa. com). “Massages help to melt away tensions, and encourage blood flow.” 8 To recreate the a professional massage easily in your own home, you can make a simple rub by mixing Epsom Salts with lime and ginger essential oils, and massaging the mixture into your body. As well as improving your circulation, this can also help with overall wellbeing and relaxation by removing tensions, allowing you to feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

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