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4 Exercises to Boost Your Circulation

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Circulation Exercises

Trying to improve your circulation? Try these four exercises.

1. Standing Joint Mobility

Featured Exercise: Standing Spinal Roll

This exercise allows for increased oxygen movement to most major joint complexes, including the spine, pelvis, hips, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, elbows, wrists, and hands.

  • Stand up straight, arms loosely at your sides.
  • Starting at the crown of your head, begin to roll your head — then neck and back — down slowly toward your ankles going vertebra by vertebra. Take time to assess each joint, using movement and range of motion as your gauge. Allow 30 seconds to roll all the way to a full forward fold.
  • At the lowest point of the movement, roll back to standing by reversing the motion, moving vertebra by vertebra from the pelvis up. Keep head and hands heavy during the movement. Complete 10 reps.

Option: Pause in the lowest position of the movement (the forward fold) and focus on gently shifting weight into the heels and then back into the toes. Repeat several times, making a slight rocking motion. This allows a greater degree of stretch and release in the back.

2. Ground-Based Mobility

Featured Exercise: Windshield Wipers With Shinbox Extensions

Using the ground as resistance is a great way to not only challenge the capacity to move, but also to make the heart work harder.

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent at chest level and feet slightly wider than hip width.
  • Rotate knees to the right and onto the floor so that they form a right angle with your shins. Sit up straight.
  • Squeeze your glutes and push knees and shins into the floor to rise up, keeping your tailbone tucked in.
  • With control, reverse the motion and bring your glutes back to the floor. Rotate your knees 180 degrees to the left and repeat the motion. Complete five reps on each side.

Option: Make it harder by holding a kettlebell at chest height. Make sure to keep elbows close to your sides and wrists straight.

3. Decompression — Thoracic Mobility

Featured Exercise: Thoracic Rib Pulls

Create the space for your breath and heart to do its work naturally. This exercise is a great way to improve thoracic mobility, which also offers the lungs and heart a greater degree of expansion.

Lay on your right side with your right arm extended directly in front of your chest with your palm up. Place your left hand across your right rib cage.

  • Bend your left leg 90 degrees at the knee and rest your knee, shin, and foot on a foam roller. This helps to lock the lumbar and reduce torque on the lower back.
  • Slowly twist your upper torso and look to the left, expanding your ribs and gliding your left shoulder in the direction of the floor. Slowly return to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions on each side.

Option: Extend the motion into a Bow & Arrow by getting into the same start position, but instead of grabbing the ribs with the left hand, extend your left arm out to meet your right arm with palms touching. Then, as you rotate to the left, bend your left elbow and bring your left hand across your body and to the right, fully extending your arm on your right side at the furthest point of rotation. Reverse the movement and come back to start.

4. Myofascial Release — Foam Rolling

Featured Exercise: Shoulders and upper back pressure points

Myofascial release via foam rolling can stimulate the lymphatic system and help move toxins out of the body.

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent at chest level and feet slightly wider than hip width.
  • Lean back onto a foam roller that is perpendicular to the body and aligned with your shoulder blades.
  • Put your hands behind your head and your elbows out to the sides. Take a few deep breaths, then push your feet into the ground to move your body back across the foam roller about 6 inches (so the roller stops around midback).
  • Then use your hip muscles to pull your body back toward your feet, returning your shoulders to the starting position. Throughout the motion, keep your spine neutral and your hips relaxed.

is health journalist and functional-nutrition educator and coach.

Illustration by Stuart Briers