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Cold Hands and Feet? Here’s How to Improve Your Circulation

woman huddled in front of an electric space heater trying to keep warm
Mariia Boiko/Shutterstock

If you’re reading this, it probably means you struggle with cold extremities on the regular. If your health is in check and bundling up isn’t cutting it, we have a few tricks to improve your circulation.

Everybody gets cold hands and feet now and then, of course. When the temperature in your environment drops, your body goes in survival mode and attempts to preserve all the available heat to keep your organs working properly. As such, the blood vessels in your extremities constrict and prevent the blood to flow around them causing both your hands and feet to feel cold. But if you’re regularly experiencing ice cold hands when everybody else seems to be fine, it’s not a whole lot of fun. Many other reasons, such as stress, high cholesterol, and a number of conditions that require medical attention, can cause poor circulation.

While trying any of the following tips won’t hurt you, consulting with a doctor first to rule out any dangerous diagnosis is always best—especially if you’ve been experiencing the issue for a long time and you’ve experienced other significant symptoms, such as numbness and burning pain.

Exercise Regularly

It might not be what you wanted to hear, but, as we all know, regular exercise can help your overall health. When you sit down for long periods of time, your circulation automatically slows down and lets gravity take over. Due to your body position on your chair, blood struggles to travel from your feet back to your heart and becomes almost stagnant around your lower limbs. This causes your feet to feel cold and sometimes even turn a little purple or blue in color.

Exercising, even just for 20 minutes every day, can help your blood carry nutrients throughout your body contributing to your well-being and warmer feet. Engaging in cardiovascular activities, such as jogging, cycling, and swimming are excellent workout options—they get your heart pumping and your blood running throughout your entire body.

If your job keeps you tied to a desk for hours on end, taking regular breaks to stand up and walk can help your blood flow while also allowing your eyes and your mind to rest. If your schedule allows it, you can even do a bit of stretching or a few yoga poses to relax your muscles and encourage blood flow. You don’t need to go to the gym every day to get moving.

Take a Warm Bath

This is perhaps the most pleasant of all tips: Take a long warm bath and let all your troubles melt away. Warm water can help kick-start your circulation by encouraging your blood vessels to expand and letting your blood flow freely inside your body. It’s a temporary measure, but given the element of pleasure, it’s an easy choice.

Use Heating Pads or Hot Water Bottles

Some people often struggle to fall asleep due to cold feet, no matter how thick the duvet is or how many pairs of socks they’re wearing. That’s when a heating pad or a hot water bottle can come in very handy. Placing either of them at the foot of your bed can help intensify the warmth around your lower limbs, making it easier for your extremities to feel comfortable enough for you to fall asleep. This is just another temporary fix but a rather useful one nonetheless.

Try Dry Skin Brushing

dry brushes in a spa resting on wooden slats
Studio Grand Web/Shutterstock

Practicing dry brushing daily has a lot of benefits. In addition to stimulating your circulation, it provides lymphatic support, exfoliates your skin, unclogs pores, and some even say it can help reduce the visual signs of cellulite. All you need is a stiff bristle brush with a long handle and a few minutes of your time.

Start with the bottom of your feet and move up your body with long and smooth strokes. Always brush towards your heart or the center of your chest to encourage lymph drainage, and move in clockwise motions when you reach your stomach and your armpits.

Aim to do it daily before you shower to keep your circulation under control and your skin looking radiant.

Give Compression Socks a Chance

Compression socks are not just for traveling on long-haul flights. The risk of developing blood clots can also be encountered at ground level due to a number of reasons, including limited movement. If your work life is particularly sedentary, you could wear compression socks.

They pressurize your legs to encourage the blood to flow around your lower limbs and go back up towards the heart. They might not be the prettiest addition to your outfit, but your feet will certainly appreciate them.

Consider Quitting Smoking

If you’re a smoker and often struggle with cold hands and feet, it could be due to the nicotine in your cigarettes—even if they’re electronic ones. Aside from damaging your lungs, nicotine harms the walls of your blood vessels, making them stiffer and less elastic. Moreover, it contributes to inflammation and to the thickening of your blood, which significantly increases the likelihood of plaque buildup in the arteries. As a result, it increases the risk of artery disease and heart attacks. While it might be a comforting habit, the bad outweighs the good. Quitting or seeking help to get it done could benefit your health immensely—including your cold feet!

These are just a few simple tricks anyone can try at home to warm up their extremities. If none of them work for you, remember to seek medical advice because the underlying cause of your poor circulation might be more complicated than just lack of movement.

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »
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