Spending time outdoors this summer is a great way to stay active and naturally boost vitamin D levels, but keep in mind that rising temperatures can take a toll on your heart. Even a healthy heart needs to work harder to cool off in hot weather, so be sure to follow these 3 simple tips for a heart-healthy season:
- Exercise smarter: Plan outdoor activities during cooler hours. Wear light-colored, breathable fabrics and avoid exercising when the sun is at its strongest (typically between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM). Ease into that run or bike ride, and stop to rest if you feel short of breath or lightheaded. Water activities such as swimming may provide cooler alternatives, or check your local rec center for indoor fitness classes.
- Hydrate: It is always important to drink enough water, and a good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of purified (filtered) water daily. However, your body may need even more water on hot days, so be sure to hydrate before, during, and after any physical activity—even low-impact activity such as gardening.
- Eat well: Why put extra stress on your heart this summer? Stick to a diet rich in protein, healthy fats (especially from fish and olive oil), fruit, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Eliminate added sugars, starchy carbohydrates and trans fats.
Finally, take extra precautions if you are overweight, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or have an increased risk of heart disease. Remember that your heart has to put in a little more effort to keep you healthy despite the heat, and you can help by doing your part.