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Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Have a HeartBonnie Raitt was right when she sang Have a Heart. You probably have a heart, but is it a strong one? And do you also have great circulation and flexible arteries?

Hard to make that sound sexy and exciting. However, having a strong circulatory system and being flexible should be on the top of your “gotta have” list if you want to live a full, healthy life. If you are a woman over 45 (keep those genetic predispositions in mind too) you will especially need to focus on circulating better than a politician at a fundraiser!

Circulation is the movement of fluid through the vessels of the body in a regular or circuitous course induced by the pumping action of the heart. Say what? When you have good circulation, blood can move to every cell in your body in less than 60 seconds.

Thinking of which, did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US? Or that the symptoms of a woman’s heart attack can differ drastically from men’s, so those signs often go unrecognized? We need to do better at spotting heart attacks in women AND take action to minimize heart disease in the first place. In other words, having good circulation not only can improve your life, but possibly also save it!Circulataory system

Notice how Bob Hoskins ends up at the ER in the Bonnie Raitt video clip? Did you notice what he was eating? Exactly!

The three main ways you can help your circulatory system are to:

Exercise
While many types of exercise help your overall awesomesauceness, walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health, according to the American Heart Association. For every hour of walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours.

Let's get Flexible, FlexibleAchieve good flexibility
Researchers have established a correlation between flexible bodies and flexible arteries in people older than 40. Can you touch your toes? If so, you probably have flexible arteries. Arterial stiffness indicates an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Being fit seems to delay the development of age-associated artery stiffening.

Intake healthy food and drink 
One of our favorite ways people can support their circulation is via cocoa flavanols. What can be better than finding out that a regular, small dose of dark chocolate helps your health. We’re all over that good news!

On this last day of Heart Health Month, we are headed to the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute on the east coast to partner up with CocoaVia® to help spread the word about taking care of your circulatory system all year long! They make four flavors of cocoa flavanol supplements (2 chocolate; 2 fruit). We’ve tried them all, and love the fruit flavors in our morning smoothies and water bottles. Check out more recipe ideas on CocoaVia’s site.

Traveling to conventions is also proven (completely non-scientifically) to help us circulate with our knowledgeable fitness colleagues, so we are looking forward to the trip. Please follow our adventure via our pictures and tweets.

While you’re at it, please have a heart and subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.

Photo credits: Heart collage:  qthomasbower; Circulatory system: Vivienne Balonwu

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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11 Responses to Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility

  1. Evelyn February 28, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    Hi K and A,

    I didn’t know that walking was good for heart health and I also didn’t know about the flexibility factor. I can touch my toes, but I can feel the stretch. I’ll be getting my flexing on more from now on. :)

    Very helpful and beneficial information!!

    Take care,

    Evelyn
    Evelyn recently posted..Benefits from FastingMy Profile

    • Carol March 13, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      You are not alone Evelyn, most people under-estimate the power of walking. People often think that the more streneous the exercise, the better, but that is not true. Research shows that walking is a very powerful and helpful exercise especially for the heart. I love walking and it is really doing my heart a lot of good.

  2. Wanda February 28, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    I’ve had problems with my circulation for a long time, and stretching really helps out. So does elevating my legs for a few minutes at the end of the day.

  3. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie February 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    What great tips! I’ve been lucky to always be naturally bendy and flexible, it’s something I definitely want to maintain as I get older!
    Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie recently posted..Eat Your Veggies Casserole RecipeMy Profile

  4. GiGi Eats Celebrities February 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    You know what’s NUTS! I remember when my mom could barely reach her hands past her knees when she tried to touch her toes but after practicing pilates for two years, she could probably wrap her legs around her head!!!! It’s absolutely incredible :)
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..And The Binge Eating Award Goes To…My Profile

  5. Jody - Fit at 55 February 28, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    I can’t wait to hear & read the new info you come back with on this. So important to keep ourselves healthy young AND with age.. Thx for sharing all this amazing info!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..On a “Diet”? Read This…My Profile

  6. Tamara March 1, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    Thanks for this reminder! Flexibility is always my weakest link (and probably why I’ve had several lower back strains over the past few years). Jumping out of bed and doing a few ‘downward dogs’ in your honour!

    Hope you had fun at the conference!
    Tamara recently posted..#FatblasterFriday | The ‘hit the wall workout’My Profile

  7. Calla Gold March 7, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Great tips about an important and heart hitting topic.

  8. Lee March 12, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Hi
    My mum has just got this machine that sends little electrical pulses up your leg to aid circulation as,,she suffers a bit and her feet are frequently cold. Have you any experience with these sorts of devices as of there value in increasing circulation. Would be good to get an opinion?????

    Await reply lee

    • KymberlyFunFit March 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Hello Lee:

      Thank you for your question about your mom’s circulation issues. We are happy to reply more in depth in a future post or comment, though need to do so next month as we are about to catch a plane for a three week trip to Thailand. In the meantime, does your mom seem more comfortable after using her machine? Is she able to walk around a bit or at least flex and extend her ankles? If her feet are often cold we would definitely suggest she get a medical opinion.

      All the best to her and you!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Natural Products Expo West: Scenes from 3 Days of Food, Natural Products and FriendsMy Profile

  9. JoLynn Braley March 14, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Very informational article! I didn’t realize that walking just 1 hour could possibly extend your lifespan by 2 hours! Thank you for sharing this!

    JoLynn Braley
    The F.A.T. Release Coach

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