Ever noticed that your hands and feet are perpetually cold no matter what the temperature is? We’re often told that the phenomenon is due to “poor circulation” — but one expert says that the issue may be caused by something much more simple. When was the last time you thought about your breathing?
According to author and renowned breathing practitioner Patrick McKeown, when we’re breathing way too quickly or too hard throughout the day, we’re inadvertently constricting our blood vessels and making it more difficult for them to not only get oxygen into the body but to also get it distributed to our cells. In turn, when your hands and feet get cold, it’s because there’s are fewer blood vessels moving to your extremities.
It’s not just uneven oxygen levels that can cause problems; when your body’s getting rid of carbon dioxide quicker than it should, that can be an issue too. “When you lose too much carbon dioxide and blood pH increases, hemoglobin — which is the main carrier of oxygen in the blood — doesn’t release oxygen so readily,” he explained on mindbodygreen’s podcast. It’s a never-ending cycle to getting inadequate amounts of both.
While you should definitely talk to your doctor if you think that your freezing hands and feet could be a sign of a larger health concern, it may be worth trying out specialized breathing exercises first before sounding the alarm. If you’re a mouth breather or just naturally breathe quickly, you can try taking several breaks throughout the day to focus on inhaling and exhaling through your nose at slower rates for a few minutes.
If you’ve tried that and want to level up, McKeown recommends putting one hand on your chest and one above your navel and focusing on breathing in and out through your nose. You may even feel your body warming up after just a few minutes. Talk about a fast turnaround!