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Healthy Heart: Improve Your Circulation and Flexibility

Have a HeartYou probably have a heart, but is it a strong one? Do you also have great circulation and flexible arteries? Bonnie Raitt was right when she sang Have a Heart.

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!

Sure, you have a heart. But is it strong, flexible, and a good circulator? Click To Tweet

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. (And you can learn foods to eat to help your heart in fewer than 60 more seconds by checking out our post, “5 Age Defying Tips to ‘Youthen’ Your Heart and Improve Circulation.”)

How can you improve your circulation? Click To Tweet

What’s Killing Women?

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!

How Can You Improve Your Circulation?

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

1) 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, Flexible2) Achieve 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.

3) 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!

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In other, more expected news, you probably guessed that a diet rich in plant-based foods is also heart healthy.  This infographic has some specific foods to choose if you want a stronger heart and better circulation. (We differ on just two small points: 1) tomato has no “e” at the end and 2) egg yolks are no longer considered problematic.)

Infographic on foods to help hearts

Infographic provided courtesy of Veestro

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

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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5 Age-Defying Tips to “Youthen” Your Heart and Improve Circulation

picture of heart rate on a wrist monitor

This is the heart rate of someone who exercises!!

What better way to end February’s Heart Health month than to be your own lifelong Valentine and show love to your heart? To help you, we’re sharing some lovely heart facts to inspire you to write a sonnet improve your health.

Your heart is the fastest responding muscle in your body. When you work out cardiovascularly (heart rate increases, you breathe heavily, and your whole body is involved in the movement), the heart adapts upwards within 24 hours. Aaaaand, if you dodge exercise more than you dodge taxes, then your heart adapts down, down, down.

Your heart is the fastest responding muscle in your body Click To Tweet

Do you want your midlife body to stay as vital, youthful, and cooperative as long as possible? As Dr Michael Roizen MD, co-founder of RealAge and chair of its Scientific Advisory Board puts it: “Physical activity decreases the greatest causes of arterial aging, including stress, the greatest ager of all.”  Good news: you can combine strategies to achieve the youngest, most stress proof, physiological body possible. No heart stopping shocks coming, but the secret to a Strong, Age Defying Hearty Har Har is ……….

One of the biggest causes of arterial aging is ... (click to find out, especially if you want a… Click To Tweet

… to exercise and eat well. Did you see that coming? But what does “eat well” for heart health mean in practical terms, especially for baby boomer women? We wondered ourselves so checked in with Registered Dietitian and celebrity, best-selling author Frances Largeman-Roth. Based on her input, we offer you the following juicy tips:

fruit for Outshine frozen fruit bar smoothie

Red and blue: Key colors of healthy circulation

Embrace the C

1. Vitamin C is a heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps repair and produce body tissues. Add oranges or grapefruit to your snack routine to get your daily dose. Other vitamin C-rich foods include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, papayas, mangoes, kiwi and bell peppers. Basically, eat fruity stuff aka “fruit.”

We’ll (Not) Drink to That!

2. Limit high-calorie, sugary drinks such as soft drinks, and sweetened iced tea and coffee drinks. Instead, drink lots of water – at least 2 liters per day. Water, water everywhere. Alcohol isn’t so great for you either. Yes, we know about the studies that tout the benefits of red wine, and Mayo Clinic simply says that it MIGHT be healthy in MODERATION. They theorize that flavonoids or resveratrol may be the beneficial substances.

Circulate and Let Your Arteries be Free!

3. Support your circulation. First, read our post on how to improve your circulation. Then, add a guaranteed source of cocoa flavanols, like CocoaVia® cocoa extract supplement, to your breakfast every morning. What’s not to like about cocoa that’s clinically proven to help maintain healthy circulation? (Disclosure: Nothing to disclose as we were not paid to add the above mention. We simply believe in the product and company). 

Puffy, swollen foot

Oh, Swell! Begone Flim, Flam, Inflammation!

What if You are Super Swell?

4. Fight inflammation. Eat foods that contain high amounts of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. You can find it in blueberries, blackberries, plums, cherries, Mission figs and eggplant. (note from Alexandra: Figs – ewwww)

Go Popeye and Olive Oil on Yourself

5. Instead of cooking spray or butter, use olive oil. Olive oil is a great heart-healthy ingredient; the Mediterranean diet has long been linked to heart health and longevity. Try drizzling extra virgin olive oil on top of pasta and using it as a salad dressing or as a substitute for butter on bread.

ACTION: Improve your heart when you subscribe (and then read and follow our tips). Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes and claim your bonus while you’re at it. 

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA