If it seems like you catch every cold that’s going around, your hands and feet are frequently cold and tingling, you lack energy and feel tired all of the time (despite having had a good night’s sleep), or you often find it’s hard to concentrate, you may benefit from better blood flow.
Most people don’t spend much time thinking about a healthy circulatory system. That is until we realize we should feel better than we do. A healthy circulatory or cardiovascular system—comprised of the heart, blood vessels, and blood—is vital for delivering nutrients, oxygen, and hormones throughout the body. When it doesn’t work correctly, you can feel it all over.
In some cases, it’s not just your hands and feet that feel the chill; poor cardiovascular health often leads to erectile dysfunction in some men. According to the Mayo Clinic, ED can be an early warning sign of heart problems. “Likewise, if you have heart disease, getting the right treatment might help with erectile dysfunction,” say Mayo Clinic experts. “Understand the connection and what you can do about it.”
The good news is that you can improve cardiovascular health by seeing your doctor and making simple lifestyle changes that benefit all parts of your body. Here are four super simple ways to increase blood circulation and improve cardiovascular health.
Choosing to drink water instead of fruit drinks, soda, or energy drinks keeps the body hydrated and helps the heart pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles more easily. As a general rule of thumb, experts suggest taking your body weight and then drinking half of your body weight in ounces.
Regular exercise offers a variety of heart-healthy benefits. First, burning calories helps control weight gain, an effective defense against heart disease. Then, as a muscle, your heart needs to be worked to increase blood flow and raise oxygen levels throughout your body.
To combat high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and heart disease, and to improve overall blood flow, the CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
Eat an Iron-Rich Diet
Adding foods like omega-3 fatty fish, nuts, green tea, and leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens is a sure path to a delicious, iron-packed diet.
Laugh More Often
Heart disease is no joke. Fortunately, laughing in the face of stress offers some lasting cardiovascular health benefits. “By reducing the level of stress hormones, you’re simultaneously cutting the anxiety and stress that impacts your body,” writes E. C. LaMeaux. “Additionally, the reduction of stress hormones may result in higher immune system performance.”
Laughter is also a great cardio workout, adds LaMeaux, especially for those who struggle with physical activity due to injury or illness. “It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace,” says LaMeaux. “So, laugh your heart into health.”
As we start a new year, make building a robust circulatory system part of your goals. By adding hydration, exercise, healthy iron levels, and laughter to your lifestyle habits, you can establish heart-healthy practices that you can feel from head to toe.