5 tips for a heart-healthy holiday

Dec 15, 2023, 7:22 PM | Updated: 7:53 pm

No one wants to spend their holiday at the hospital. Here are five tips from a medical expert to keep your heart health top of mind this season.

1. If you have a sweet tooth, know your limits.

“You have to go in with a plan,” said Viet Le, a physician’s associate in cardiology at Intermountain Health. “I think you have to be intentional, knowing that it is the holidays, that there are going to be goodies.”

Write down your plan if you need to. It’s also a good idea to have an accountability partner.

2. Exercise. This time of year, it’s easy to be a couch potato, but that can be detrimental to your heart health.

“Make sure that you’re being active,” Le said. “The American Heart Association says 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. That sounds like a lot, but you break it down, it’s 30 minutes, five days a week. And you can even break it down into 10-minute segments.”

3. Limit alcohol. Excessive drinking is dangerous for the heart. Yes, it’s a social activity, but again, it comes back to having a plan.

“Don’t lose track of what you’re drinking. You want to enjoy the moment, and that includes appropriate alcohol intake,” Le said.

Le said smoking is also a major concern when it comes to heart health.

“Cardiovascular disease and smoking do not mix,” he said. “It is the highest risk for death and highest risk for cardiovascular events.”

4. With all the holiday stressors, keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol.

“Stage one hypertension is anything 130 and above for that top number and 80 and above for the bottom number,” Le said.

5. Through all the hustle and bustle, take time to relax.

“You have to keep the things that have kept you sane throughout the year into the time period of holidays,” Le said. “Maintaining the de-stressors in your life, when taking on the additional stress of the holidays is important. And again, it takes intention. It takes planning.”

He says, above all else, remember to be kind to yourself – and learn from the past – to have an even healthier future.

“Give yourself the gift of the present by knowing you can effect change,” he said.

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5 tips for a heart-healthy holiday