(BPT) - When you think about circulation issues, cold hands and feet probably pop to mind. It’s true that cold extremities are frequently the result of poor blood circulation, especially if you have anemia, arterial disease, diabetes or hypothyroidism. But as your blood travels all over your body, it’s not just warming your extremities — it’s bringing oxygen and nutrients to every one of your cells (and taking waste products away). This orchestrated distribution of blood is key to your survival. That’s why good circulation is so important to all aspects of your health.
An introduction to your circulatory system
Your heart may be the start of your circulatory system, but it doesn’t act alone. When your heart beats, it pumps blood through a vast system of blood vessels comprised of arteries, capillaries and veins, also known as your vasculature. Highly muscular and elastic tubes, your arteries relax and constrict to keep blood moving throughout your body. This combination of relaxation and constriction is aided by nerve impulses as well as a variety of compounds. Nitric oxide, for example, causes your blood vessels to dilate and widen their diameter, which allows a greater volume of blood to flow through them.
Many chronic conditions can threaten the integrity of your circulatory system. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease can damage the inner lining of your blood vessels (known as the endothelium), impeding good blood circulation. There can also be issues with blood viscosity. If your blood is too thin, you can bleed internally, but if it’s too thick, dangerous clots can form.
Sedentary folks at higher risk for circulation problems
Exercise improves circulation and cardiovascular health, but most Americans are not moving enough. Even before the pandemic, only about a quarter of American adults got the recommended amount of weekly exercise (150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, plus two strength-training sessions).
When gyms closed due to COVID-19 and people were advised to stay home, things got worse. According to a study published in May, the small fraction of people who were actually hitting the exercise goalposts became a third less active. Not surprisingly, most of those who were more sedentary stayed that way.
How COVID-19 affects blood circulation
Over the last several months, doctors have observed that the novel coronavirus causes health complications that aggressively affect the circulatory system. COVID-19 can impair blood circulation, and some COVID patients have developed blood clots that complicate their recovery. This can result in blockage of blood vessels and damage to the kidneys and the heart. That’s why keeping your circulatory system in good working order is especially important during this global health crisis.
Tips for healthy blood circulation
The key steps for good blood circulation are like those for good health in general: high-quality nutrition, adequate exercise, and proper supplementation. Follow these three recommendations, and you’ll support your immune system in supporting you.
- Eat well: One of the bright spots about COVID-19 is that it’s given most of us more time at home, so we can cook healthier meals and make better eating decisions. Strive to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats from cold-water fatty fish, avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Limit your intake of sugar and unhealthy fats, such as trans fats.
- Work out: If you’ve let your exercise routine slide, try to find new ways to move. A recent study published in the journal JAMA Network Open found that not exercising is a greater risk to your health than cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or smoking! If you can’t go to the gym, and your air quality is healthy, you can walk, run, or bike around your neighborhood.
- Supplement wisely: Think about adding a supplement to your health regimen that promotes good circulation. I recommend Oligonol, a unique supplement made from lychee fruit polyphenols and green tea. What’s unique about Oligonol is that it helps release nitric oxide, which improves the capacity and blood flow volume of the vasculature. Research has shown that Oligonol improves both distal circulation (blood flow to the extremities) and micro circulation (blood flow to the smallest blood vessels). This is important since distal circulation is the most susceptible to early disease and complications.
 Benefits of exercise. MedlinePlus. 2017 Aug 30. https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html
 Ducharme J. Only 23% of Americans get enough exercise, a new report says. Time. 2018 June 28. https://time.com/5324940/americans-exercise-physical-activity-guidelines/
 Meyer J, et al. Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour due to the COVID-19 outbreak and associations with mental health in 3,052 adults. 2020 May 12. Cambridge Open Exchange. https://www.cambridge.org/engage/coe/article-details/5eb2056d7a31fc00183d05db
 Huzar T, Flynn H. COVID-19: Possible mechanism for blood clotting identified. Medical News Today. 2020 Aug 12. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-possible-mechanism-for-blood-clotting-identified
 Mandsager K, Harb S, Cremer P, et al. Association of cardiorespiratory fitness with long-term mortality among adults undergoing exercise treadmill testing. JAMA Network Open. 2018 Oct 5;1(6):3183605. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2707428