5 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy This Summer
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the US, and women especially tend to underestimate how susceptible they are to the disease. Let’s make the gorgeous weather, delicious summer foods and fun activities work for your heart!
Our favorite tips just for you:
- Have fun with exercise!
It’s easier to embrace daily exercise when you look forward to it. Giving your heart a gentle workout doesn’t have to be trudging on a treadmill, looking at a wall in the gym. It can be any physical activity you enjoy. If you like walking, find a new path to explore in your neighborhood or a flat nature trail you haven’t tried yet.Do you like to garden? An hour of digging and planting can burn up to 272 calories for a 150-pound person.
Give yourself credit for daily chores. Even activities such as household cleaning, sweeping a walkway or doing laundry can count as heart-healthy exercise.
- Sleuth out hidden sugars and embrace the sweet fruits of summer.
How does sugar affect heart health? The American Heart Association reports that consuming 17-21 percent of calories as sugar gives people a 38 percent increased risk for heart disease. Secret sugars are everywhere in your kitchen.Keep an eye out for ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, molasses, cane sugar, honey and sugar molecules ending in “ose” such as dextrose, sucrose and maltose. The big culprits include spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, grocery store side dishes like coleslaw and macaroni salads—and cocktail mixers, a summertime favorite.
Once you’ve identified which foods have added sugars, you can begin trying to cut back. Delicious, ripe fruits of summer and fresh-made juice are an easy way to avoid added sugar. And when baking, consider halving the sugar added to recipe; you might not even notice!
- Find ways to de-stress.
Stress is natural in moderate levels and something that most people experience. However, high levels or long periods of stress can have negative effects on heart health. So it’s important to find time in your daily routine to check in on stress and look for ways to reduce it.The world’s easiest stress-reliever is to get enough sleep! Activities like meditation, yoga or taking a walk instantly help. If those aren’t for you, try calling a friend, spending time with a pet or writing in a journal to relieve stress.
- Get regular checkups.
Early summer is a great time to get a checkup because it gives you a baseline for improvement. It’s no one’s favorite activity, but regular checkups are a crucial part of maintaining heart health.Heart-health screenings look at blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, body mass index and other measurements that help paint a picture of the condition of your heart.
Seeing your doctor regularly can help you catch early warning signs so you can make lifestyle adjustments that improve heart health.
- Easy, healthy summer meals.
Meals that are low in saturated fat and low in sugar reduce the risk of heart disease—and summer is an incredibly easy time to accomplish this tip! Consider vegetable kabobs on the barbecue, crisp green vegetables and salads. Eat a kaleidoscope of food colors for the best health: purple beets, red tomatoes, green broccoli, yellow peppers. The whole family benefits from this one!
Have fun this summer and help keep your heart healthy at the same time by keeping these tips in mind!