Weight Loss & Circulation

Losing weight benefits your circulatory system, which consists of your heart and blood vessels that run throughout your body. The movement of nutrients, oxygen and carbon dioxide around all the cells in your body is called circulation. Weight gain and obesity hurt your circulatory system by clogging your arteries with fat, blocking your blood from moving as quickly. Weight loss can reverse this effect and improve your circulation.

About Circulation

The heart is the hub of the circulatory system. It pumps oxygenated blood away from itself through the arteries, then through capillaries in your body's tissues so the oxygen and nutrients can be absorbed by cells. This is called systemic circulation. Your veins send deoxygenated blood back to your heart, which sends it to the lungs to be reoxygenated. That's known as pulmonary circulation. These two types of circulation are interconnected and part of the same system. Circulation is crucial for stabilizing your body temperature and pH level.

Obesity Causes Narrower Arteries

Weight Loss & Circulation

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Overweight and obese people are often diagnosed with atherosclerosis -- a disease in which your arteries become clogged with plaque. Plaque is made mainly of fat and cholesterol and accumulates when you're not active and pumping blood quickly through your arteries. Clogged, narrower arteries means less blood flow, which in turn means less oxygen delivered to your organs. This in turn causes organs to suffer and can lead to various conditions and diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. You may not show symptoms until you have a medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke.

Obesity Lowers Adiponectin Levels

A 2009 study published in the "International Journal of Cardiology" found that weight loss in obese women improved their circulation. Their improved circulation was attributed to increased levels of adiponectin -- a protein involved in regulating glucose levels and breaking down fats. Adiponectin levels decrease with weight gain, which makes it harder for obese people to manage weight and slows their circulation. Weight loss recovers your adiponectin levels, allowing your circulatory system to manage healthier digestion.

Exercise Improves Circulation

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Though weight loss can be achieved with or without exercise, if you want to improve your circulation, you have to exercise. Regular aerobic exercise dissolves plaque buildup in your arteries. Exercise also dilates your blood vessels, improving circulation, according to Byung-il William Choi, M.D. A study of Harvard alumni in 2000 found that doing vigorous aerobic exercise regularly lowered the risk of heart disease by 20 percent. Some examples of aerobic activities are running, swimming and playing tennis.


A Harvard study found that 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise such as slowly walking is just as effective for weight loss in inactive older people as 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise is for younger, more active people. As long as the exercise feels challenging, it's benefiting your circulatory system and overall health. The more you exercise, the greater the rewards you'll see for your health. Once you become more fit, in addition to staying lightly active throughout the day, do moderate and vigorous workouts three to six times a week. You'll see improvements in your circulatory health, which improves your overall health.