When taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle, making heart friendly choices should make your top five list of priorities and goals. This is because heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S. - despite the fact that heart problems are very preventable. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to begin improving your heart health, starting today. So whether you’re looking for ways to prevent possible future cardiovascular issues or you’re working on managing an issue that was brought to your attention during an annual heart health screening, we recommend using these six tips to make your summer healthier and easier for your heart:
Monitor the heat. Hot weather is more than uncomfortable - it also puts additional strain on the heart. This is because the human body responds to elevating temperatures by trying to disperse some of its own internal heat. This, however, puts more strain on the cardiovascular system. While a healthy heart can usually handle this process, an unhealthy one will have more trouble. Because of this, the American Heart Association recommends that current heart patients, people who are than 50, and individuals who are overweight take special precautions in the heat. (Even if you do not meet these criteria, however, it’s important to ensure that you take steps to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as any type of heat stress can put additional stress on your heart and could lead to trouble in the wrong circumstances.)
Stay hydrated. Good hydration is crucial to helping your heart work properly - and not just because it can help fend off heat-related illnesses. When you're properly hydrated, your cardiovascular system works more efficiently and pumps blood through the body more easily. This means there's less strain on your heart throughout the day - and that will help keep your heart happy and healthy!
Eat more seasonal produce. While it’s important to make heart-friendly food choices year round, many summer eating options give you a chance to select seasonal produce that is harder to find or just unavailable during the rest of the year. And since eating more produce can help you hit heart healthy diet milestones, this is definitely something you should take advantage of. Not sure what to buy? The American Heart Association currently has excellent guidelines on how to find and purchase the best produce for your heart throughout the summer, both in stores and in restaurants.
Go for heart healthy snacks, meals and recipes. Your heart-friendly meal decisions don’t end after you’ve picked up some great produce! Many of the things we eat can be modified in a way that can benefit our heart in some way, particularly when it comes to reducing the amount of fat and salt that we eat. To ensure that every aspect of your diet is as heart healthy as possible, we recommend using resources such as cookbooks, Google and Pinterest to find easy, tasty and heart-friendly modifications you can make.
Watch how you BBQ and grill your food. At least once during the summer you’ll probably have a chance to grill or BBQ a meal, or at least will attend a cookout. This staple activity of the season, however, is not always the healthiest option, especially if you’re taking steps to care for your heart. Fortunately, by following a few simple guidelines and making a few modifications, you and your friends can enjoy this seasonal activity while still looking out for your hearts.
Plan ahead before going on vacation. While vacations can provide a chance to recharge and destress - which is definitely good for your heart! - many of us end up sitting too long and often stray from our heart friendly diet choices during our trips. While spoiling yourself a little won’t ruin your healthy living efforts entirely, you should also try to stay as on track as possible by following summer travel guidelines, such as taking short walks during your "rest breaks", packing heart-friendly snacks, and drinking plenty of water instead of sugary beverages. This will allow you find a happy medium between spoiling yourself and taking care of yourself.
These six tips each highlight how a different habit can benefit your heart and your overall health. If you’ve fallen off the healthy living train a little bit this summer, give these tips a shot and see if they can help you ease back into a life of healthier choices. And if you need additional or personalized advice, just get in touch with your doctor here at Genesis Medical - we’re always happy to address your individual needs to ensure that you’re getting the care you need!