If you have poor circulation, you may be plagued by such undesirable symptoms as cold hands and feet, numbness, tiredness in the legs upon standing for long periods, or wounds that are slow to heal. But a sluggish blood flow isn't something you have to live with. Below are some tips to boost your circulation and get that blood moving through your body:


Claudication, a condition in the legs that makes walking painful and results from inadequate blood flow, is commonly treated with exercise. While it may seem counterintuitive to treat a condition with the exact activity that causes the symptoms, there is a method to this madness:

Exercise helps condition the muscles to respond to oxygen, which helps reduce the pain during walking. Exercise can also help prevent fatty cholesterol buildup and keeps the blood flowing swiftly through the body.

Eat Right

When a poor diet causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries, this can slow circulation and prevent the heart from getting enough blood, which can lead to a heart attack. Similarly, a lessening of blood to the brain can cause a stroke. How to clean up your diet to keep your blood circulating without obstruction? Make sure your diet is comprised mainly of:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, and millet
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy
  • Fish and lean meats
  • Healthful fats such as nuts, oils, and avocado

Avoid saturated fats such as red meat, full-fat dairy, and sweets.

Stop Smoking

Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, cutting off circulation. It may take time, but quitting will eventually cause the blood vessels to become more open and flexible.

Enjoy Massage

Many massage therapists tout massage as an effective way to aid in circulation. By applying direct pressure to various parts of the body, they claim to be stimulating blood flow in those specific areas. One instance in which to be cautious, however, is after exercise. A study last year at Queen's University in Canada tested 12 young men who had their forearms worked to exhaustion. Some were told to lie quietly afterwards in passive recovery, some lightly squeezed a handgrip in active recovery, and some had their forearms massaged.

The surprising result? The massaged arms received significantly less blood flow than the arms in either active or passive recovery. Schedule your massages on your rest days.



Vascular Disease Foundation, www.vdf.org

American Massage Therapy Association, www.amtamassage.org

The National Women's Health Information Center, www.womenshealth.gov

New York Times, www.nytimes.com