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 Right: Why put extra stress on your heart this summer? Stick to a diet rich in protein, healthy fats (especially from fish and olive oil), low-sugar fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and legumes. 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.
In addition to the fresh air and camaraderie, recent studies show that playing golf provides a broad range of health benefits for the whole body. From better muscle tone to mental sharpness, here are three good reasons to start working on your swing.
Let’s Get Physical
Though tamer than most popular team sports, golf is still a very physical game. Playing on a regular basis can help improve muscle tone and increase stamina, at the same time helping to maintain a healthy weight. One study found that walking all 18 holes burns about 1,400 calories (800 if you ride in a cart). Not only are all those extra steps good for your heart, but a Swedish study found that regular golfers have a 40% lower mortality rate and live about five years longer on average. A day on the course has also been linked to a more restful night’s sleep.
Ask any golfer and he or she will tell you golf is definitely a mental game, but here’s what you may not know: playing golf triggers the release of chemicals called endorphins in the body. Endorphins are natural mood enhancers that promote positive feelings. What’s more, golf involves a high degree of attentiveness and coordination, which is good for keeping the mind sharp. It also stimulates the circulation of blood to the brain and supports healthy nerve cells.
Golf Makes for Good Company
Golf is a highly social game by nature and offers a unique opportunity for interaction and companionship. This is important because a number of studies have connected socialization to a better quality of life, especially among seniors. Meeting up with friends or family members on the course is a great way to stay connected while taking advantage of the physical and mental health benefits of the game.