Keep it moving!
Remember running a mile in gym class? You were probably sweating, breathing hard, and your heart was pounding. Exercise increases blood flow, and not just because your heart rate speeds up! You might be interested to learn that your muscles give your circulatory system a boost, through a process called “skeletal muscle pump.” When you exercise, muscle contractions squeeze your veins, moving blood upstream like toothpaste from a tube. Your heart could use the help, it's fighting gravity to pull blood up from your extremities. Blood moves slowly in these distant veins, and pressure is weak enough to necessitate a series of one-way valves preventing backflow. Exercise speeds up this flow, also known as “venous return.” You’ve probably seen symptoms of poor “venous return” if you’ve ever noticed prominent, squiggly blood vessels in someone’s legs. Backed-up blood flow behind one-way valves is responsible for the distinctive look of these “varicose veins.” There’s some debate about the cause of this condition, but we do know that a sedentary lifestyle can cause circulation issues and that regular exercise is a great form of prevention, thanks in part due to the effect of “skeletal muscle pump.” Movement helps your body to function better, even something as simple as getting your daily steps in!