By MH Staff - Posted on 24th October 2013
Circulation is the unseen, all-powerful energy system that underpins every aspect of your health.Use our seven-step 24-hour guide to improve yours from head to toe.
Your choroidal artery supplies blood to the hippocampus, your brain's memory centre. Boost the flow to up your attention span. 7AM: MASSAGE YOURSELF SMARTER Solve mental problems at speed with this exercise. Lie with a foam roller under your shoulders, head cradled in your hands. Lift your hips off the floor and roll the foam down to the bottom of your ribs, and back. Spend 30 seconds on each roll and repeat four times. "This increases blood flow to the brain," says fitness coach Alex Poole. Nobel-grade thinking-power could soon be yours.
Supercharge your next heavy workout by improving the flow of blood in your brachial artery (upper arm). This will increase nutrient delivery to your muscles during workouts, ensuring you finish that third set triumphantly. 7.15AM: TEA-TOTAL POWER Research from the Athens Medical School in Greece found that one cup of green tea widens your brachial artery in just 30 minutes, so make a cup half an hour before your morning workout. Not a green fan? "Black tea also reduces clotting risk," says Dr Jeremy Spencer, of the Department of Food Biosciences at Reading University.
If your circulatory system is the power lines, your heart is the engine room pumping 14 000 litres of blood a day. Keeping it strong is the basis of your cardio fitness, giving you stamina in any sport. 7.45AM: GO THE DISTANCE On your bike, pedal at 50-60% of maximum effort for 30 minutes. Leipzig University found that this boosts blood flow through the heart. "It could even help the growth of new blood vessels," says vascular surgeon Jonathan Earnsha. So a ride before work can directly affect your long-term health.
Not all erections are created equal. Greater blood supply means hyper-sensitivity, aka the best sex of your life. 10.50AM: SPICE THINGS UP Start foreplay early with a cup of coffee sprinkled with cinnamon. The spice leads to 20% increased blood flow to the penis, according to the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. "The effects last for 16 hours," says study leader Dr Alan Hirsch. But you'll only notice it when aroused, so there's no danger of an inappropriate "hello there" mid-presentation.
The femoral artery transports blood to your thighs. When fed with enough of the red stuff, it can help you generate explosive power when you strike a football, which could be the winning touch in tonight's five-a-side match. 6.55PM: SCORE A MAT-TRICK Increase blood flow to your leg muscles by adding Giggs-style yoga move to your regular warm-up. "Kneel down and lower your elbows to the floor infront of you," says Olga Allon, founder of Hot Bikram Yoga. "Lower your forearms and hands to the mat and breathe. On the exhale, straighten your legs so your body forms an A-shape with your bum in the air. Hold for five." Trust us, that lightweight keeper of theirs has no chance.
The flow of blood to the lungs runs through your pulmonary artery. Unhindered, this essential energy supply delivers oxygen to every cell in your body, keeping you sharp until the day is out. 2.50PM: A FRUITFUL AFTERNOON Have a slice of watermelon at your desk after lunch. The fruit contains a compound called citrulline which relaxes blood vessels. The effects are two-fold: first, it will aid your continuing recovery from your morning workout. Second, you'll prevent your artery walls from thickening, which would trigger lethargy as the afternoon drags on. Also, enhance your good work by always answering nature's call: Chinese research found having a full bladder constricts the blood flow through the pulmonary artery by 19%. Drain that vein - often - and you'll stay sharp until home time.
The day's hang-ups have no place in the bedroom. Take control of blood flow to make worries melt away. 11PM: SYSTEMATIC SHUT-DOWN Reset your circulatory system for a peaceful eight hours with "progressive muscle relaxation". Starting with your feet and working up to your neck, tense every muscle for 10 seconds, the release for 20. Research in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine found this reduces blood pressure. You'll fall asleep relaxed and wake up with your body's essential lifelines pumped for another day.