Replace These Bad Habits With Healthy Habits
While we typically talk about the risk to your lungs (emphysema and lung cancer), smoking also hurts blood circulation in surprising ways.
Smoking narrows your blood vessels and limits blood and oxygen flow to your organs. This can lead to a variety of health problems, including:
- Venous disease
- Heart disease
- Erectile dysfunction
If you smoke, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit. You already know this, of course, but addictions are hard to shake. If you’ve tried to stop smoking and are struggling, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor about ways you can quit smoking.
For a lot of people, however, exchanging smoking for healthy habits can help while your brain and body shake the initial detoxing effects. Some things that help people stop smoking or at least cut back include:
- Taking walks when the desire to smoke hits
- Chewing sugar-free gum
- Munching on celery, carrot sticks, or other crunchy, healthy snacks
Remember, the initial nicotine withdrawals will pass. The goal is to get to the point where your addictive feelings subside. This doesn’t take very long, so hang in there and, if necessary, talk to your doctor for help.
Before trying a smoking cessation aid, like nicotine gum or patches, we recommend speaking with your doctor, as these also have side effects that might not be healthy for you.
Excess Alcohol Consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to circulatory problems. It widens your blood vessels and can cause your blood pressure to drop. This can lead to lightheadedness, dizziness, and even fainting. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause dehydration, which can lead to or worsen other health problems, like venous disease.
If you drink alcohol, it’s important to do so in moderation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that men consume no more than two drinks per day and women consume no more than one drink per day.
To cut back or eliminate alcohol, consider:
- Replacing your evening drink with chamomile tea to help you relax and fall asleep.
- Exchanging your alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic alternatives. There are a number of mocktails and faux wines and beers that you may enjoy.
If you’re drinking more than the per-day recommendations, it’s a good idea to explore the reasons why with a doctor so you can make sure you address any underlying health concerns, such as insomnia or stress.
What you eat also plays a role in your circulation. A diet high in saturated and trans fats can narrow your blood vessels and lead to circulatory problems. A diet high in salt can also cause your blood pressure to rise, which can strain your heart and lead to other health problems. To keep your circulation healthy, it’s important to eat a healthy vitamin-rich diet that helps your circulation and overall health.
This isn’t to say you can’t enjoy your favorite snacks from time to time. A small plate of nachos while watching the game every other weekend isn’t going to hurt. However, changing your daily food habits and swapping the more common unhealthy choices with healthy habits will go a long way.
Start small and work your way up. Some ideas to help include:
- Opting for grilled chicken over fried chicken.
- Increasing the vegetable portion on your plate, reducing portions of fatty meats.
- Order the burger, but hold the fries.
- Purchase the low-sodium chips and opt for a flavorful, low-sugar, low-salt salsa for flavor.
- Take vitamins to make up for any gaps in your diet, especially when you took a few too many cheat days. (Talk to your doctor about supplements before taking them)
- Exchange sugary drinks with sugar-free alternatives.
- Reduce caffeine intake by replacing one caffeinated drink per day with water, and get more sleep to improve your energy.
Finding the right healthy alternative for you, something you will enjoy while improving your health can be easier to stick to, so choose the right exchanges for you.
A sedentary lifestyle is another major contributor to poor circulation. When you don’t move your body, your muscles don’t contract and your blood doesn’t flow as well. This can cause a variety of problems, including varicose veins, spider veins, and blood clots. If you have a sedentary job or lifestyle, you can start small and work your way up. Try the following:
- Start by wearing compression on your calf muscles to improve circulation no matter your activity level. Graduated compression will aid blood flow, reduce swelling, and improve your vein health.
- Next, elevate your legs daily with your feet elevated above your heart. Do this for 30-minutes per day while you swipe through social media, check your email, or catch up on your shows.
- Take your breaks seriously. Don’t just sit or stand around. Flex your calves or go for a walk during your coffee break instead of sitting at your desk. Consider taking more calls while you take a walk. There are many ways to get more movement into your daily routine.
- Create an exercise routine and stick to it. Daily walks, cycling, swimming — work these healthy habits into your routine. Make it a family activity.
Other Healthy Habits for Better Circulation and Wellness
These are just the tip of the iceberg to improving your health and wellness through improved circulation. It’s important to break other bad habits and replace them with healthy habits. Aren’t you worth it? We think so!
- Don’t put off going to the doctor, follow their recommendations, and keep your appointments. Make your healthcare a priority.
- Don’t ignore concerning symptoms. From leg cramps to shortness of breath, listen to your body and take action.
- Know your risk for vein disease, heart disease, and other serious health concerns. Look at your family history, examine your current health, and talk to your doctor about how you can prevent illness and manage disease in your life.
Now that you know which healthy habits to adopt, it’s time to start making changes in your life. Remember, it’s never too late to improve your circulation and overall health. These healthy habits will help you feel better and prevent serious health problems down the road.
Start by making one healthy change at a time. Doing too much at once can make it easier to give up, so do what makes sense for you.