With the holidays knocking on our door, many associate this time with festive cheer, celebrating with family and friends, and of course—enduring the stress that comes with hosting and organizing holiday celebrations.

Between the stress of traveling, shopping, and the over-abundance of tasty treats to tempt us, the holidays can sometimes put our heart health on the backburner.

At South Tampa Cardiology, we encourage the festivities as much as anyone else, and have some actionable tips to ensure you have both a happy—and heart-healthy—holiday season.

Holiday Heart Tip #1: Make Hydration a Priority

Most people don’t think of dehydration when they’re in the holiday mode, but between the dizzying whirlwind of cleaning, cooking, and entertaining that comes with this season, it’s critical to stay hydrated.

Not drinking enough water negatively impacts all of your organs, including your cardiovascular system. It lowers the amount or volume of blood circulating throughout your body. When that happens, your heart rate increases, and so does your blood pressure. It also thickens your blood, making it harder overall to pump oxygen and other nutrients to your body.

This can be especially true if you’re traveling or on a long-haul flight. Be sure to drink water throughout your travels, and avoid caffeine or alcohol as these contribute to dehydration.

Holiday Heart Tip #2: Eat Mindfully

This is probably one of the most widely understood principles of living healthy, but one where most people fail to stick to during the holidays.

Some tips for succeeding this holiday season include:

Remember portion control: Eat a healthy balance of wholesome foods, load up on veggies, and be mindful of rich meats, pastries, or processed foods.

Put leftovers away: Out of sight, out of mind. Putting uneaten food away into the refrigerator can deter temptation and overindulging.

Drink in moderation: Not only is alcohol high in calories, it raises blood pressure and increases the chances of a cardiac event or stroke.

Holiday Heart Tip #3: Make Activity a Part of Your Holiday Tradition

Whether it’s coquito, a hot toddy with whiskey, or an eggnog spiked with rum—it goes without saying that these festive drinks might be a favorite family tradition of yours.

However, even alcohol in moderation can rack up not only a lot of calories, but they’re filled with saturated fats and sugars.

To help counter these impacts on your cardiac health, suggest a daily activity to become part of your holiday tradition. For instance, take a 30-minute walk altogether after each dinner or large meal. Or perhaps try out the kids’ virtual reality video games! One popular boxing game burns 10 to 15 calories per minute, which is on par with the calories you’d burn while rowing.

Holiday Heart Tip #4: It’s Okay to Say No

The holidays can be very stressful, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that it’s okay to put boundaries if a situation or event puts undue stress on you.

According to a study exploring a term called “the holiday heart syndrome,” researchers discovered 5% more heart-related deaths during the periods of December and January compared to other times of the year.

Excessive eating, drinking, and overstressing were three key commonalities observed. So remember your heart health is #1, especially during the holiday season.
Enjoying Life with Heart Health in Mind

At South Tampa Cardiology Advanced Imaging Center, we believe that everyone deserves the best approach to treating heart conditions. That’s why we focus on preventative cardiac health. We hope these heart tips will become a tradition for you and your loved ones.

Go break a sweat with the family, enjoy deep belly laughs, and make the most of this holiday season with your heart health in mind!

To learn more tips, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.