Good blood circulation in your legs allows tissues to take in nutrients, get rid of waste, and is an essential function of long-term leg health and strength. Poor leg circulation can be improved by starting simple habits and making changes to your diet. The term circulation describes the constant movement of blood around the body, made possible by the pumping action of the heart. This movement or “flow” of blood takes place in a network of tubes known as blood vessels. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart; veins are blood vessels that carry blood towards it. Returning blood to the heart from the lower parts of the body is hard work for the circulatory system because the blood has to be pushed upwards through the body. The muscles that surround the veins help with circulation: as they contract around veins, they stimulate the flow of blood to the heart. This is why staying active—even just walking- can help improve your circulation. Circulation may deteriorate as we age. But circulation problems may affect anyone, at any age, who is not very active. Here are some helpful tips for improving blood circulation in your legs and all throughout your body.
Walking is a simple, low-impact exercise that can help you create a more active and healthy lifestyle and may promote weight loss. Walking at any pace is beneficial to increase blood flow throughout the body, as it is the best way to lower your blood pressure and increase muscle contraction in the legs. As muscles contract and relax, they squeeze around the large veins in the legs, promoting healthy circulation in more stagnant areas of flow.
Additional benefits to walking and other forms of exercise include improving overall balance and uplifting your mood.
Engaging in regular stretching has numerous benefits for your body. Stretching with proper technique may help promote blood circulation, which carries oxygen and nutrients to your organs and muscles that are necessary for proper function, movement, and flexibility.
3. Position Your Body
If you tend to cross your legs when you sit, you may be harming the circulation in your lower body. That common position cuts off circulation to the legs, making it more difficult for blood to get to your leg tissue to keep it healthy. Make a habit of sitting in a position that’s better for circulation.
Try out these sitting positions that help promote better vein circulation:
- Sit with your legs spaced slightly apart and your feet on the floor. Remember to get up from time to time so you aren’t in this position for too long.
- You can also slightly elevate your legs to help circulation. Put your feet up on a stool or Ottoman six to twelve inches above the ground.
- While sleeping, prop your legs on a pillow to improve blood flow. This position is also healthy for your spine!
4. Wear Compression Stockings
Compression stockings can improve your blood flow and reduce swelling and pain.
Compression is essential if you have a job that requires you to be either seated or standing for the entire day. Too much pressure on the legs or too little movement can negatively affect your overall health and circulation. Compression stockings mimic the internal action of walking by causing the muscles in your legs to continuously contract and relax, thereby stimulating blood flow.
5. Stop Smoking
If you want healthy blood vessels, then you definitely shouldn’t smoke. Smoking can cause your feet and ankles to swell, and blood clots are common for smokers. If you’re smoking, your heart is not working under the best conditions, and this may lead to damaged blood vessels and veins in your legs.
6. Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress can have negative side effects on your mental and physical health, including the body’s circulation. Find ways to relieve stress through exercise, listening to music, taking deep breaths, meditation or psychotherapy.
Interested in reading more about circulation? Explore our collection of circulation topics.
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Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Yan Katsnelson is a philanthropist, business owner, and highly skilled cardiac surgeon. He is the Founder and CEO of USA Vein Clinics, which is part of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vascular Centers, and USA Oncology Centers, with more than 100 facilities nationwide. Dr. Yan has established himself as a strong advocate for accessibility and affordability of the most advanced medical care close to home. His mission is to create a positive experience for each patient with compassionate, personalized, and expert care.