Blood flow and performance; two things that go hand-in-hand. In fact, improved blood flow and oxygen to muscles means that you can push yourself a little harder, work out a little longer, or run a little further.
But how is this possible, what can we do to improve our blood flow, and what are the results of poor circulation? In this article we will go over all of that.
Let’s start with the basics
In order to understand this, it is important to first talk about how blood circulation really works.
Basically, the cardiovascular system (heart and blood cells that run through the body) delivers nutrients and oxygen to every cell in your body. Your arteries transport oxygenated blood from the heart to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells, then your veins return the deoxygenated blood back to the heart.
This is a continuous cycle. Your heart acts as a pump, carrying oxygenated blood to your organs, and de-oxygenated blood comes back from your organs to the lungs to get oxygenated once again.
From that we learn that good blood flow is important and will result in more nutrients being delivered to your body—especially oxygen.
Good blood flow is important for many reasons:
- Improved circulation
- Enhanced mental performance
- Stabilize body temperature
- Maintain pH balance
- Transport nutrients to and from cells
- Boost immune system
- Boost metabolism
- Get a better workout
What causes poor blood circulation
While those are the signs of good blood flow, there are also signs that you might not be getting adequate blood flow, and those signs include:
- Throbbing pain in limbs
- Muscle cramps
These are the main reasons for poor circulation:
Believe it or not, sitting too much can cause poor circulation. Between 9-5 jobs, school, travel, watching TV—we do A LOT of sitting. Whenever possible, it is so important to get up and get active to get our blood flowing. This article gives suggestions on how to be more active at work.
Leading a sedentary life can lead to obesity which can cause arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which is a side effect of diabetes; it narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow.
Plus, sitting too much can also result in blood and other fluids pooling in the legs, causing varicose veins and forming dangerous blood clots.
The chemicals in tobacco harm your blood cells. This can damage the function of your heart and blood vessels. This could lead to atherosclerosis—where plaque builds up in your arteries and limits blood flow.
Diets high in sugar and trans fats can also affect blood flow by causing a buildup of plaque in the arteries which leads to poor circulation. That’s why is so important to eat a balanced diet, and make sure that you are getting in a good balance of all three macros.
How can we increase blood circulation?
Okay, so we know that eating healthy is important. But did you know that there are certain foods that can actually improve your circulation? Those include:
- Salmon and Avocados
Salmon and avocados contain omega-3 fatty acids which support the cardiovascular system and increase blood circulation.
- Cayenne pepper
This has been said to increase metabolic rate and strengthen blood vessels.
Curcumin, an ingredient found in turmeric helps prevent blood platelets from forming clots.
- Goji Berries
They are high in fiber to help boost the immune system and increase blood circulation.
Garlic, along with radishes, onions, and leeks are said to cleanse blood and prevent plaque build-up.
- Ginger root
Ginger can help with digestion problems and can increase blood circulation.
- Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits are natural blood thinners and are said to prevent plaque build-up.
2. Drink more water
Blood contains plasma, and plasma is mostly made of water. Plasma becomes thicker when you are dehydrated causing blood circulation to slow down. Drinking water is a good idea to help speed up your circulation.
3. Get a sports massage
Massages feel really good and can reduce pain and decrease tension, but they can also help to improve your circulation if you go regularly. The pressure from the massage helps to move blood through congested areas and allows new blood to flow through. This will enhance circulation and enhance your fitness performance level.
4.-Work out more often
Regular exercise is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your circulation. Run, walk, practice yoga, swim, find a sport you really love, lift weights, just get up and get moving.
Blood flow and performance
To improve blood flow, there are so many things you can do, but we want to focus the most on how better blood flow can improve your workout. With good blood flow, more oxygen is able to flow to your muscles, which means that it will take longer to get fatigued; resulting in a better/longer workout.
Whether you like to lift weights, run, do pilates, box, or perform another form of exercise/cardio, your heart rate will rise. Active bodies need more oxygen because your muscles move more and their metabolic rate increases. Because of this, your body needs more energy, so it produces more ATP (high energy molecule that stores energy), but in order to produce ATP you need oxygen.
Your muscles will send messages to your brain during exercise telling them that they need more oxygen. Those messages get transmitted to the diaphragm (what controls breathing), causing you to breathe more often. The lungs will absorb that oxygen and take it to where your body needs it the most.