Summer can bring many happy memories – family vacations, summer camp, days at the shore, staying up late and watching the sun set. No matter what your summer traditions include, be sure to keep in mind your heart and brain health throughout the longer daylight hours.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke respectively remain the No. 1 and No. 5 causes of death in the U.S., yet a majority of these diseases are preventable with such simple lifestyle modifications as healthy eating and regular exercise.
“Some of us have a tendency to take our eye off the ball when it comes to healthy habits during the summer. After all, for many, summer means vacation,” says Dr. Paula Amendola-Sekinski, a family medicine and primary care physician at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates. “Summer is actually the perfect time to get outside, exercise, and enjoy heart-healthy seasonal produce. But remember, with warmer weather comes a greater risk of dehydration, sunburn and exhaustion so make sure to take precautions!”
Here are the American Heart Association’s top 10 tips for a heart-healthy summer:
- Learn Hands-Only CPR. Days by the pool and ocean can be fun, but always be prepared for the unthinkable. Hands-Only CPR has just two steps: If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, 1) Call 9-1-1, and 2) Press hard and fast in the center of the chest. View a short video by visiting www.heart.org/handsonlycpr.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids (preferably water) throughout the day and before, during and after working out to maintain salt-water balance. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
- Exercise smarter, not harder. Plan your workout for the cooler parts of the day – either early morning or early evening when the sun’s radiation is at its lowest. If you must exercise during the hottest part of the day or in high humidity, decrease exercise intensity and duration. And remember: You can get a great workout indoors by going to a gym or walking at the mall.
- Dress the part. Wear minimal amounts of clothing that allow for quick evaporation of sweat. Choose lightweight, light-colored and breathable fabrics, such as cotton.
- Choose fresh vegetables. Load up skewers with mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash or other veggies. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray and grill until lightly blackened.
- Pack to play. When taking a family road trip, plan to incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine. Pack a football, soccer ball, Frisbee or paddle ball so that you can be physically active while away.
- Enjoy fruit pops. Homemade freezer pops are an easy, fun treat for kids to make and enjoy. Mash up fruit like peaches, grapes, berries or watermelon and put into paper cups, insert a popsicle stick and freeze overnight.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Wear wide-brimmed hats, always apply water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
- Head indoors. When the heat gets unbearable, try indoor activities like basketball, swimming, yoga or racquetball at your local YMCA or rec center.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- heavy sweating
- cold, moist skin, chills
- dizziness or fainting
- a weak and rapid pulse
- muscle cramps
- fast, shallow breathing
- nausea, vomiting or both
If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler place, stop exercising and cool down immediately by dousing yourself with cold water and rehydrating. You may need to seek medical attention.
- warm, dry skin with no sweating
- strong and rapid pulse
- confusion and/or unconsciousness
- high fever
- throbbing headaches
- nausea, vomiting or both
If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
For more tips on staying active and healthy this summer, visit https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living.
Dr. Paula Amendola-Sekinski specializes in family medicine and primary care, including routine examinations, immunizations and management of chronic diseases. To make an appointment, call 914-849-7180.