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woman with feet up to improve circulation

How to improve circulation in your feet

If you constantly have chilly or swollen feet, it could be an issue with your circulation.

In most cases, this is nothing to worry about and easy to fix with a few simple lifestyle changes. Wondering exactly what those are and why it’s critical to have good circulation? Here’s our short guide to feet circulation.

Why is it important to have good circulation in your feet?

Circulation is the general word for how blood is pumped around your body by the heart. Blood moves oxygen from the lungs around the rest of the body and it is used to help remove carbon dioxide and other harmful waste products. Blood circulation is also the main way hormones and things like our immune cells are transported to exactly where they’re needed in the body1,2.

As our feet are the furthest points away from our hearts, it takes longer for the blood to reach them. If your blood is circulating slower than it should be, it can lead to a lack of oxygen and other substances reaching your feet. This can have a negative impact on your body’s health over time, plus it may lead to more serious conditions.

In general, the most common symptoms of poor circulation in the feet include:

  • Coldness or numbness
  • Cramping after exercise
  • Swelling or general achiness
  • A tingling sensation
  • Slower nail and hair growth

How to improve circulation in your feet

If you think you suffer from poor circulation, there are a few things you can do to help improve it. These include:3

  1. Regularly exercising

As well as getting the recommended 150 minutes of exercise every week (whether that’s from walking, running, team sports or going to the gym), it’s also important to move your feet when you’re inactive. If you’re lying in bed, lazing on the sofa or sat at a desk and your feet start to feel a little numb, wiggle your toes and flex your ankles up and down to get the blood moving again.

  1. Eating healthy food

Having high cholesterol can have a direct impact on your heart and circulation which is why you need to make sure you eat a healthy diet packed with fresh fruit and veg. Avoid fatty foods to keep your cholesterol levels within the normal range. Sugar should also be consumed in low amounts, especially if you’re diabetic as having diabetes can make you more prone to circulation issues.

  1. Eliminating stress

Being stressed can increase your blood pressure which in turn has an impact on the health of your heart and its ability to circulate blood around the body. Try to avoid stressful activities and practice things such as meditation or yoga to keep you calm.

  1. Quitting smoking

If you’re currently a smoker, cutting out cigarettes may improve your circulation. That’s because smoking is thought to damage your blood vessels, causing blockages and reducing the elasticity of the vessels’ walls. These factors can make it much more difficult for your heart to pump blood around your body.

  1. Propping up your feet

If your feet are prone to swelling, try elevating them with a pillow when you’re in bed or relaxing on the sofa. Ideally, your feet should be above your heart to aid in boosting circulation.

  1. Wearing compression socks

Frequent swelling in the feet and legs can be brought down by wearing special compression socks. As well as reducing inflammation, they may also improve circulation and help prevent blood clotting or varicose veins.

  1. Taking a supplement
There are numerous natural supplements which may support your heart health. Omega 3 is a great option as it has anti-inflammatory effects which may help reduce damage to your blood vessels4. Coenzyme Q10 is another popular pick which is thought to support heart function and aid with blood sugar regulation5.

It’s important that you seek medical assistance if you persistently have poor circulation in your feet as it may be a sign of a more serious condition. Before taking any form of supplement, have a chat with one of our nutrition experts or your GP to make sure they’re right for your needs.

Last updated: 29 April 2020

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