5 Ways to Protect Your Heart This Winter
Did you know heart attacks and strokes go up during the winter months? Research suggests you may be twice as likely to experience a cardiovascular event during the winter compared to the summer months.
That’s not how you want to start the New Year, right? Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It claims the lives of about 660,000 people a year.
So what is it about Old Man Winter that puts your heart health at risk? There appears to be three main factors at play that increase the risk for a cardiovascular event during the winter months:
Strenuous exercise. There’s a big winter storm. You grab a snow shovel to dig your way out. But if you’re not used to strenuous exercise like that, your heart might not be able to handle it. Use a snow blower, ask a neighbor to help you, or hire someone to clear your driveway and sidewalk.
Cold temperatures. Cold temperatures restrict blood vessels. This makes them smaller and forces your heart to work harder to pump blood through your body. If you’re already dealing with heart disease, high blood pressure, or heart failure, consider cold temperatures a reminder to bundle up and stay warm.
Stress. There’s at least one more reason heart attacks spike during the winter. Stress. For a lot of people it’s the stress of the holidays…family, money, travel, or even your health can be a source of stress. And the holidays can raise your stress levels even higher. Managing stress in healthy ways can help protect your heart.
Want to keep your heart healthy during the winter?
Here are five heart-healthy lifestyle tips for you to try:
- Eat heart-healthy foods.Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are a good place to start. Lean meats and fish can be part of a heart-healthy diet, too.
- Get regular exercise. If you’re not already super active, don’t try to shovel your driveway and sidewalk on your own. Ask for help. But make regular exercise part of your day. 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking) will help keep your heart healthy.
- Stay warm. This includes dressing appropriately for cold weather with a hat, gloves, jacket, and socks that can help keep your feet warm.
- Manage stress in healthy ways.Some people turn to alcohol, gambling, spending, or screen time to manage stress. But it often leads to more stress and problems. Instead, learn to manage stress in healthy ways with things like exercise, meditation, yoga, or journaling. Even a hot bath or enjoying a hobby can help reduce stress.
- Make an appointment. The New Year is a great time to call your doctor and make an appointment for an annual wellness exam. It’s a great way to assess your heart health and overall health, find out what you’re doing well, and get direction on how you can improve.
Old Man Winter doesn’t have to put your heart on high alert. Instead, adopt these heart-healthy lifestyle tips and enjoy some Heart-Healthy and Low Sodium meals