If you’ve noticed your hands and feet are chronically cold, you may need to make some lifestyle changes and possibly even pay a visit to your doctor.
And a recent study took on a topic that could fuel the war between men and women over the office thermostat. The study found that women performed better in warmer temperatures and men performed better when it was cooler.
Having chronic cold hands and feet, though, could be a symptom of poor circulation.
“Poor circulation affects mainly the limbs, but may also present itself as dry, itchy skin, hair loss, shortness of breath, cramps during physical activity, varicose veins, stinging or tingling in your limbs or memory glitches,” says Jennifer Ladwig, a family medicine nurse practitioner at Aurora Health Center in Valders, Wis. “And those are just a few symptoms. Any one of these signs are a prompt to call your medical provider.”
To encourage adequate blood flow, Ladwig suggests the following:
- Move more often: Sitting for long periods of time hinders the amount of blood passing through your body. Try setting reminders to get up and move every hour. If you’re not sitting for long periods of time, try ramping up your cardio routine to encourage blood flow.
- Kick the bad habits: Smoking and excessive drinking are common causes of poor circulation, due to the lack of oxygen and toxic chemicals circulating through your body, which damage blood cells.
- Start eating better: A low-fat, high-fiber diet is one of the best ways to combat poor circulation, while cutting out as many saturated fats as possible. In addition, consuming omega-3 fatty acids promotes cardiovascular health, improving circulation. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and fish oil supplements.
- Manage your weight: Healthy weight has a lot to do with how well your blood circulates throughout your body. An excess of fat means your heart must work harder to pump blood and nutrients, resulting in high blood pressure. In addition to more physical activity and eating healthier, consider consulting with your medical provider on the best options for weight loss.
While some causes of poor circulation include sitting for long periods of time, poor diet and being overweight, some causes are more serious and should be treated by a medical professional.
“Diabetes, stroke, heart attack and blood clots can cause poor circulation and its symptoms,” Ladwig says. “Also, your body relies on healthy circulation, because it survives on nutrients. Without nutrients, certain body parts are essentially starved and could lead to amputation.”