Are you ready for a summer of fun in the sun? If there’s anything we can depend on in Florida summers, it’s lots and lots of sun. The warm sunny days bring people out of their homes, off to vacation destinations, or even just to their local pool. And somewhere along the way, we’ve begun to associate summer with some of our less heart-healthy habits. Drinking wine by the pool, living off of burgers and fries, and fulfilling all of our desires sound fun. But, at a certain point in our lives, we realize that the fun of our youth is no longer contributing to our heart health.
Does this sound familiar to you? Many people find that when they break down their heart health journey into simple, achievable steps they have more success in the long run. So, this summer, as you enjoy life to the fullest, consider these simple heart-healthy tips.
1. Drink Lots of Water
When you’re spending more time than usual out in the sun, there is nothing more important than drinking plenty of water. Water is essential to our existence, it keeps your muscles strong and supple including your heart muscle. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re having fun in the sun. Buy yourself a large water bottle and carry it with you everywhere you go. Especially if you’re planning to spend time outside. Remember, breaking a sweat during heart-healthy exercise is a great thing, as long as you replace it with a refreshing glass of water!
2. Keep Your Diet Light
In the winter, when the weather is cold we crave warm, rich foods. Unfortunately, these foods are often the worst for our heart health. Diets high in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar are some of the leading causes of heart disease. But there’s good news. During the summer it’s more common for people to desire light, fresh foods making this time of year a great time to rethink your diet. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats is the best diet for any person on a mission to improve their heart health. This diet is commonly referred to as the Mediterranean diet and can be eaten all year round. This summer, take advantage of the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, learn to cook on the grill, and experiment with a new type of eating that will keep your heart healthy.
3. Spend Time Outside
As a resident of Florida, you know how brutal the summers here can be. When all you want to do is be outside enjoying our beautiful, natural surroundings, the heat can make it difficult to do so. But time outside is so healthy for us. There are so many great ways to get exercise outside from walking and biking to swimming and hiking, not to mention the mental and emotional benefits that come from getting out of the house and getting your heart moving. Let’s take advantage of this season and get outside as much as possible. If you’re sensitive to heat, consider visiting shady places earlier in the day. Many of our local state parks have covered trails that make for a beautiful morning stroll.
4. Enjoy Your Family
Most people don’t realize how important positive mental health is to your heart health. If you are a person who is chronically stressed you may be doing unnecessary danger to your heart. Often, high levels of stress are associated with high blood pressure which is dangerous for your health. Fortunately, research shows that healthy relationships reduce your body’s production of stress hormones. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can look to the friends and family you love most to help you regulate. This is great news for summertime as this is the best time of year to enjoy fun in the sun, family barbecues, pool parties, and beautiful weekends at the beach.
5. Celebrate Responsibly
There are a lot of fun gatherings that take place in the summer and it’s not uncommon to find yourself surrounded by alcoholic beverages and party snacks. Before you indulge too heavily, it’s important to remember that the consumption of alcohol is a known contributing factor in heart disease. While drinking may make you feel relaxed, it temporarily raises your blood pressure. A history of binge drinking can lead to long-term blood pressure issues. By now we know that high blood pressure is directly linked to heart disease and if not treated can be very detrimental to your overall cardiac health. Whether you’re lounging at the pool or attending family gatherings, be aware of how often you’re choosing an alcoholic beverage.
When it’s Summer in Florida you’re simultaneously surrounded by temptations and motivations to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. This is a great time to start some new habits and acclimate to a diet and lifestyle that are focused on increasing your heart health. No matter what changes you make, we always recommend that you do so under the care of a cardiologist. We can give you general tips, but only your doctor can speak to your exact experience. For more information about heart health, or to become a patient in our practice, contact our office any time.