Stable cardiovascular system
Sometimes we get up too quickly, or the weather is changeable, leading to strong fluctuations in air pressure and temperature: the body is constantly adjusting to new situations and can normally deal with them easily. «When exposed to certain pressures, our cardiovascular system adjusts automatically,» says Urs Jeker, head physician in cardiology at Lucerne Cantonal Hospital. The heart beats faster and our blood vessels contract. This prevents a drop in blood pressure and our circulation remains stable.
Stimulate your circulation
For some people, however, these mechanisms don't set in – or not quickly enough – which can lead to dizziness, weakness or brief fainting spells. As a general rule: if you have circulatory problems, arrange an examination to rule out other causes. However, there is usually no serious illness underlying the condition and the remedies are simple: «Challenge your body regularly with physical activity,» Urs Jeker recommends. In addition to endurance and coordination, strength training is also advisable.
Improved circulatory system regulation
By contrast, when the body isn't trained, it has more difficulty in reacting to new requirements. This means that even minor stress factors like a change of weather can cause problems.
Exercising several times a week – preferably outdoors – for 30 minutes at medium intensity strengthens the heart and blood vessels and ensures that the circulatory system regulates itself better. Skipping, for example, is an ideal exercise for this.
One element of keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy and your circulatory system in good shape is a balanced diet. The Swiss Heart Foundation recommends the Mediterranean diet:
fibre-rich foods like vegetables, salad, fruit
carbohydrates like bread, pasta, potatoes, white beans
monounsaturated fatty acids (olive or rapeseed oil)
few animal products with saturated fatty acids
avoid over-sized portions
drink enough water or unsweetened tea (the body needs fluid for the blood to circulate)
Simple methods for a strong circulatory system
Cold and hot showers
Run warm water over your skin to dilate the blood vessels. Then use cold water to make the blood vessels contract again. It is important to always stop with cold water.
When it comes to good old water treading, the same applies: if in doubt or you have a pre-existing condition, inform your doctor. If all’s well, then you can visit a Swiss Kneipp centre or follow the practice at home:
- Fill the bathtub with cold water to the height of your calves.
- Stand in the bath and then take it in turns to lift each leg fully out of the water, with the tip of your foot pointing downwards (stork walk).
- Stop if you feel too cold.
- Dry off.
- Walk around with woollen socks to warm up.
Other Kneipp applications such as the cold arm immersion, the «Kneippian's cup of coffee», also have a stimulating effect. For this, run cold water into the sink. First immerse the right, then the left arm up to the middle of the upper arm. Remove your arms when you feel uncomfortably cold and wipe away the water.
Also recommended are dry brush massages: start at the feet and massage your skin for a few minutes with a soft brush, moving up towards the heart.
Consult your doctor before going to the sauna
Regular exposure to heat and cold is also a good way to stimulate circulation. Saunas are often recommended for this purpose. But be careful: if you have low blood pressure, taking a sauna can aggravate your complaints. It’s best to consult your family doctor first.