To improve your circulation, start by ditching these bad habits.
We might not actively think about our blood circulation, but how blood flows throughout our body is critical to our health. When your circulatory system works properly, your arteries pump oxygen-filled blood to nourish your tissues and organs. Veins then return the oxygen-depleted blood to your heart so it can get a boost of oxygen once again.
Sluggish blood flow can open the door for developing varicose veins, spider veins, and blood clots. But the good news is that you can prevent these conditions by improving your circulation. The first step is breaking some bad habits and replacing them with good ones.
Six bad habits hurting your circulation
You may not be able to change your age and genetics when it comes to varicose veins and other circulatory problems, but you can alter your lifestyle. Let’s look at how these six habits harm your veins and what you can do to break out of them.
Smoking. You know smoking is bad for your heart and lungs. But it’s also bad for your veins. The chemicals in nicotine slow blood flow, limiting the amount of oxygen your body gets.
What you can do instead: The best thing you can do for your veins is to quit smoking now! Go for a walk outside or try some home remedies such as chewing sugar-free gum or snacking on crunchy vegetables when the urge to light up hits. If those methods don’t work, talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation program. Nicotine patches and other aids may be helpful. Always check with your doctor first because such items may not necessarily be healthy for you or can cause side effects. Remember, breaking the cigarette habit takes time. So don’t give up too soon and stick with the program.
Alcohol Consumption. Recommended limits for alcoholic beverages are two glasses for men and one for women. Anything excessively over that limit can dehydrate you, which restricts blood flow.
What you can do instead: Cut down on your alcohol consumption. Instead of a drink, sip a cup of tea or other non-alcoholic beverage. If you think your drinking is due to stress or other emotional upset, consult a doctor about reducing stress or dealing with a psychological issue.
Sitting or Standing All Day. Jobs that require long hours sitting or standing can cause blood to pool in the leg veins. Veins then expand to accommodate all that blood, leading to swollen, painful varicose veins.
What you can do instead: Change up your position frequently. If you’re constantly standing, sit down whenever possible to give your veins a break. If you’re sitting for long hours, get up and move around when you can. You can even flex your ankles regularly to stimulate blood flow.
A Lack of Exercising. Your calf muscles play an essential role in your circulation. When they’re strong, the muscles support the veins in pumping blood to the heart. A lack of exercise can cause those muscles to weaken and slow down circulation.
What you can do instead: You don’t have to join a gym. Specific exercises such as weight lifting and hard-core running may harm your veins more than help. More beneficial options include low-impact aerobics, namely, walking, biking, and swimming. Such workouts strengthen the calf muscles and are easier on the veins and joints.
Poor Diet. A high-fat diet clogs your arteries. Meanwhile, salty foods increase blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the harder your veins work to pump blood. Too much sodium also causes water retention and swelling, another stressor on your veins.
What you can do instead: Switch out high-fat, high-sodium foods for fresh fruits and vegetables High-fiber foods are another healthy choice. They prevent constipation, which can add extra pressure to your veins.
Your Wardrobe. Yes, what you wear can affect your veins! Tight clothing around the waist or high heels can restrict blood flow.
What you can do instead: Loose-fitting clothing can free your circulation. Save the high heels for special occasions and make a pair of flats as your daily footwear.
Don’t neglect your veins!
Your circulation is a vital part of your overall health. If you think your blood flow is slowing or have painful varicose veins, visit Center for Vein Restoration’s (CVR) full-service vein care facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. The office is led by Pamela Kim, MD, RPVI, a board-certified vascular surgeon with additional general surgery and vascular interpretation certification. She is also a member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society, American Venous Forum, and Society for Vascular Surgery. Dr. Kim offers state-of-art therapies to treat varicose veins and other vascular disorders.
Contact Dr. Kim to learn more about your treatment options or schedule your consultation appointment online today!
463 Worcester Road, Suite 205
Framingham, MA 01701