Tips for Staying Heart Healthy During the Holiday Season
Heart disease is a serious issue, ranking as the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. The holidays are a time of revelry and joy, but they can also wreak havoc on your heart. Heart attacks typically spike during the holiday season, so it’s critical that you make heart-healthy decisions during this time of year if you suffer from a heart condition or are at elevated risk of heart disease.
The following tips will help you maintain optimal levels of heart health at a time of year when most people are making decisions that are typically dangerous for their hearts.
Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
For many people, alcohol consumption spikes during the holidays. This occurs on two levels – both the frequency of drinking and the incidence of binge drinking. Between family holiday gatherings, work holiday parties, and celebrations with friends, many people are drinking much more often during this time of the year. In addition, social drinkers who typically have a drink or two will often consume much more at holiday events.
Unfortunately, increased holiday drinking can have a devastating impact on your heart health. It can raise your blood pressure, forcing your heart to work much harder. In addition, binge drinking can result in heart palpitations and an irregular heartbeat, which increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Get Plenty of Sleep
The holiday season is a busy time, as an increase in social engagements places a strain on people already struggling to balance work and family obligations. When you’re overextended, it can put extra strain on your heart. Getting plenty of rest is one of the most effective ways to combat this issue.
Not only will staying well rested make it easier to juggle your busy holiday schedule, but it will also strengthen your immune system when you’re most susceptible to colds, the flu, and other diseases. Fever, infection, and other disease-related issues can place additional strain on your heart, so maintaining a proper immune system is critical at this time of year.
Exercise is often challenging to fit into a holiday schedule. Even people who prioritize fitness in their lives often struggle to make time for exercise during the holidays due to heavy travel schedules, frequent parties, and prep work associated with hosting a large gathering. However, this is not the time of year to fall off your exercise regimen.
Regular exercise is vital for maintaining optimal heart health. Therefore, make a concerted effort to find ways to fit exercise into your holiday schedule. Even a quick 30-minute workout will be highly beneficial to your heart. If you don’t have time to make it to the gym, you can go for a short run. There are also limitless workout videos on YouTube and plenty of fitness apps that provide the ability to squeeze in a quick workout at home on days when you have limited time.
Limit Holiday Portion Sizes
The amount you eat matters. Holiday parties cause many people to overeat, and this can be detrimental to your heart health. Before going to a holiday party, eat a heart-healthy snack such as fruit or nonfat yogurt. This will prevent you from showing up hungry, making it easier to avoid overeating at the party.
In addition to limiting your portion sizes at holiday events, be conscious of the foods you consume. Many party foods are high in salt and loaded with saturated fat, which can cause high blood pressure and increase your cholesterol levels. Keep these foods to a minimum, and opt for generous portions of vegetable sides, healthy proteins, and whole grains at the holiday party. That decadent chocolate cake? Ideally, you should opt for a healthier dessert but if you truly can’t resist, eat just a sliver.
Holidays can be stressful for many people. There is a wide range of stressors impacting us at this time of year:
- Over commitment with too many events on your schedule
- Anxiety over dealing with unpleasant family members
- Sadness associated with missing a loved one who is no longer around to celebrate with you
- Increased responsibilities associated with gift shopping, cooking, and hosting parties
Unfortunately, this added stress can put a strain on your heart and increase your risk of a heart problem over the holidays. To avoid this, make a concerted effort to minimize your stress:
- Avoid taking on too many commitments
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when hosting a party
- Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises, which can reduce stress levels
- Consider working with a mental health professional who can help you navigate the stressors associated with the holiday season
South Denver Cardiology Can Help You Maintain Optimal Heart Health Over the Holidays
At South Denver Cardiology, we provide a wide range of services to help you take control of your heart health. If you’re unsure whether you are at high risk of a heart condition, we can perform comprehensive diagnostic testing, including a calcium heart score test, to determine your risk level. Based on these assessments, we can recommend specific treatments or lifestyle changes to help you maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Suppose you’re simply in need bit of assistance to get you through the holiday season. In that case, you can take advantage of our nutritional counseling to better understand how holiday eating may impact your heart health. You can also take advantage of our Medical Fitness Gym to stay on top of your exercise regimen over the holidays and ensure your workouts promote optimal heart health.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment at South Denver Cardiology Associates, serving the South Denver area and Littleton, with locations in Englewood, Denver, Parker, and Castle Rock.
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As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.Sign Up