Get active and boost your circulation

Get active and boost your circulation

If you worry about the health of your heart, one of the best ways you can prevent cardiovascular problems it to stay active

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According to figures from the British Heart Foundation, more than one if four deaths in the UK each year is due to circulatory or cardiovascular disease.

In England and Wales alone, this equates to around 124,000 deaths a year, of which around 39,000 are people aged under 75.

Cardiovascular and circulatory problems also cause thousands to take time off work each year, costing the economy and estimated £19 million.

How your circulation and cardiovascular system works

Your circulatory system, which comprises your heart, blood and blood vessels, is responsible for transporting nutrients and oxygen through arteries to the cells in your body. Your veins then transport all the waste matter away, such as carbon dioxide, away from your cells.

When you have problems with your heart or circulation, including stroke, angina and heart disease, this is known as cardiovascular disease.

You’re more likely to suffer from heart disease if you don’t follow a healthy diet, as fatty substance can clog up your arteries. The most common cause of clogged arteries is atherosclerosis, where cholesterol ‘plaques’ fur up the inside of your arteries. Arteries narrow and harden so your blood flow is restricted, affecting how your organs function. Plaques can also rupture, leading to blood clots which can be fatal.

It’s a bit like when your washing machine grinds to a halt because of limescale attaching itself to the inside of pipes – water can no longer circulate round the system, so the machine stops working.

Impact of poor circulation

When the supply of oxygen and other nutrients is restricted, you are likely to experience chest pain. This often happens when you exercise, and increase the chances of you suffering a heart attack.

If arteries in your legs are affected, this is known as peripheral vascular disease or PAD, and causes pain when you walk. The pain usually occurs in your calves, and often worsens over time.

Having peripheral vascular disease raises the chances of contracting leg ulcers, which in particularly severe cases can lead to having to have a foot or toe amputated.

Boost your circulation

There are lots of things we can all do to boost our circulation and improve cardiovascular health.  

First, if you are a smoker, try to stop. Look at ways you can improve your diet too. Reduce the amount of saturated fat you consumer and increase your intake of fruit and vegetables. Watch your blood sugar levels too, particularly if you are diabetic. 

If you have high blood pressure and cholesterol, then see your GP and take prescribed medication to keep it under control.

One of the best ways to improve your circulation is to exercise regularly and keep as active as possible. Even just going to a walk a couple of times a day should help increase blood flow and maintain good circulation.

The Department of Health recommends that everyone aged between 19 and 64 should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week, which is equivalent to 30 minutes five times a week.

If you find it hard to get motivated, consider getting involved in a team sport, or group activity such as aerobics, football or netball. Having a dog can also be a great motivator, as you will have to walk it at least once a day.

Set yourself personal challenges too. For example, it could be to go for a 2km jog three times a week, or to have a walk twice a day.

Always start gradually, as suddenly exercising vigorously if you haven’t done any exercise for year could place too much strain on your heart. If you have any worries, speak to your doctor before your begin your exercise regime


 Radio Times has teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you affordable, private health insurance. Get £50 FREE M&S vouchers free when you take out a plan

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