Family vacations, inviting swimming pools, refreshing fruit and backyard barbecues with friends are some of your favorite things about summer. They can also beneficial for your heart.
Summer heat can cause problems for your heart if you forget to stay hydrated or push yourself too much on a midday run or bike ride. With the proper precautions, however, summer can be a beneficial season for your body’s hardest-working muscle. Consider these tips to make your heart pump for joy during the dog days:
- Enjoy the slower pace of life. A variety of factors—more daylight, hotter temperatures, your children’s lighter schedules—combine to lend summer a more relaxed air than other seasons. Take advantage of this refreshing change to slow down, take more time for you and reduce your stress. Unchecked stress may contribute to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors.
- Indulge in the fruits (and veggies) of the season. From sweet blueberries and crisp bell peppers to tasty peaches and juicy tomatoes, there’s no better time of year to practice farm-to-table eating.
- Make good use of the after-work sunlight. Finding enough light for evening runs, walks, tennis games and backyard dance parties with your children isn’t a problem in summer. Bonus: Exercising late in the day protects you from the sun’s most intense ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- Boost your grilling skills. You already grill a terrific burger. Why not expand your cookout horizons with some healthier fare? Experiment with grilling fish and vegetables or combine the two to make delicious kabobs. For dessert, toss some peaches or pineapple slices on the grill.
- Nurture your relationships. Staying socially connected helps prevent depression—a condition that could put you at risk for heart disease. Use some of your spare time this summer to have fun with the important people in your life, whether it’s running a 5K with your family or meeting your girlfriends for an alfresco lunch.
- Check in on your overall health. Have an extra hour or two on your hands after work now that you don’t have to contend with your children’s extracurricular schedule? Use the time to get back on track with important medical appointments, including your annual wellness exam with your primary care physician.
Packing With Heart
Your summer trip is just days away! Whether you’re heading to the beach, lake or mountains, here’s what to pack to have a heart-healthy time:
- Board games for spending fun nights with the people you love
- Breathable activewear and athletic shoes for runs, hikes and outdoor games
- Favorite healthy recipes, so you can eat in on a few occasions
- Item(s) for your go-to stress-reduction activities, such as books, a journal, a yoga mat, art supplies, a camera or binoculars for birding
- Items to make outdoor activities safer and more enjoyable, including sunscreen and insect repellant
- Necessary medical supplies, such as a first aid kit and any medications you take
- Nutritious snacks, such as almonds, granola, bananas and carrot sticks
- Swimwear that’s comfortable for aquatic exercise and stress-relieving, poolside relaxation
- Water bottle—use and refill often
And for any summer mishaps, don’t forget most centers are open seven days a week to care for unexpected injuries and illnesses.