How to improve circulation in hands and feet

How to improve circulation in hands and feet

Warm up for blood flow to extremities 

  • Wear warm socks and gloves  

Wool socks are great at keeping moisture at bay, in addition to warming the feet. Don’t forget to wear your gloves to prevent your hands from getting cold outdoors. Consider purchasing heated mittens.  

  •  Heat pads or hot water bottles  

If the woolly hat and socks are not quite doing it for you, you could invest in some heat pads, which afford more flexibility than your trusty hot water bottle. There are options for the hands, feet, and body for those outdoors types or those of you who enjoy watching the kids play sport on a chilly afternoon. 

  •  Wear layers  

Keeping a warm core temperature will help keep your hands and feet warm, so layer up with several thin layers of clothing under your coat. Warm air gets trapped in between the layers and so this can be more effective than a thick layer – and gives you options. 

  • Soak in a bath 

Such a comforting way of keeping warm, this is a great option if cold feet affect your sleep. A bath or a foot bath will bring warmth back to the body and then keep your feet warm by getting into a heated bed with enough blankets and a hot water bottle by your feet. For extra benefits, add some Epsom salts to your bath – great for circulation and relaxation ready for a great night's sleep. 

Movement and Stimulation 

  • Move 

Regular exercise is great for pumping the blood around the body and improving circulation, but if you are sitting down for work or on a long-haul flight, don’t forget to move and stretch. This is especially important when flying, so try walking up and down the aisle when you can and make the most of your stopovers by taking a walk. Look at the in-flight exercises, such as ankle circles, heel raises and shoulder rolls.  

  • Self-massage  

Give your hands or feet a brisk massage to bring the warmth back. 

  • Dry skin brushing  

Dry skin brushing before a shower will stimulate the circulation. Start and your feet working upwards towards the heart in a clockwise and circular motion.   

  • Compression socks 

Put on compression socks and elevate your feet/legs. This will help blood vessels push blood up to your heart and reduce swelling.  

  • Stretching 

Improve circulation through stretches which increase blood flow to your body's tissues and organs.  


  • Add spices to your food and drinks 

Think of spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, chilli, turmeric, or cardamom.   

  •  Ginger Drinks 

Ginger is a well-known warming spice that is great to have on hand, especially during the winter months. In addition to being great for circulation, it is a natural antibiotic, can ease nausea and stomach upsets and can reduce pain. You can add ginger to your food, make a ginger tea, or even make a ginger compress to support circulation and relieve aches and pains – if you don’t have fresh ginger to hand then you can use 1 tablespoon of ginger powder per litre of water. 

  • Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake.  

Try eating fish such as tuna, salmon or sardines more often. These are also known for supporting heart health.  

  •  Drink more water 

Water helps normalise blood pressure, regulate body temp, and promotes healthy circulation  

Check your lifestyle 

  • Manage stress  
Some scientists call chronic stress a silent killer. at a cellular level, stress in all its forms – psychological, physical, mental, emotional and environmental – leads to oxidative stress, a term used to describe an imbalance in the body where free radicals outnumber antioxidants. but stress can be managed with patience and perseverance.  
Consider stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation/mindfulness or spending time with loved ones. This will help to control blood pressure within a healthy range, and has an array of benefits on the body. 
  • Stop smoking 
Nicotine is damaging to the blood vessels, and has other negative effects on your body. Read about the how smoking affects your aging journey here. 


  • Reduce alcohol 

Alcohol can have negative effects on v blood vessels health, and can also have a negative impact on aging.  

  • Consider if your weight might be an issue 

Being overweight or obese negatively impacts blood flow and can lead to 
dangerous complications, such as plaque build-up in your blood vessels. You can learn more about body fat and aging here 

Reduce your intake of caffeine 

It is quite common to experience cold hands and feet, but it can indicate poor circulation which can be caused by nerve, thyroid or blood vessel issues, or iron deficiency.  If you are concerned, or if you experience colour changes in your hands or feet, pain in your legs while walking, or if you feel cold, but your temperature seems normal to the touch, we would recommend that you speak to your health practitioner. 

Exercises to improve circulation in hands 

You probably don’t think about your thumbs of fingers very often, besides the fact that they are cold. Your hands contain muscles, and if you use them this should stimulate some blood flow to the area. Try these exercises to see if it helps with stimulating circulation and warming up your hands: 

  •  Thumb Cross 
    1. Hold your hand in front of you with your fingers together 
    2. Reach your thumbs across your touch the hand on the other side
    3. Hold firmly for a few seconds and repeat, swaping the thumb that sits on top each time.  
  • Fist Clench 
    1. Make your hands into fists 
    2. Keep them clenched for a few seconds 
    3. Repeat 
  • Fist Push 
    1. Make one hand into a fist 
    2. Push it or gently slap it into the palm of the other hand 
    3. Switch hands and repeat 

Suzy Walsh 

BBA (Hons)., BNat., mNMHNZ 

Registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist