Vacations are an important part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. They give you a chance to rest and recharge, both physically and mentally. Since the summer vacation season is in full swing, I thought I would use this opportunity to give you some of my best advice for healthy summer travel.
- Before packing your bags, if you have a heart condition and have had a stress test ask your cardiologist for information on your “angina threshold” or the rate pressure product (RPP) at which you developed your angina on that test. The RPP can be used to estimate the amount of weight you can carry without provoking angina symptoms for you. We arrive at your RPP by multiplying your heart rate by your systolic blood pressure. As your heart rate and systolic pressure rise with activity, so does your RPP. Of course, any psychological stress or time urgency you may have while traveling can contribute to symptoms as well, so be mindful that such guidelines are not absolute. Plus, traveling with bags on wheels and checking luggage when possible can help you avoid airport angina.
- For heart-healthy snacks on the go, eat nuts—including almonds, walnuts, and macadamias. In fact, wherever I travel I go to the local health food store and buy some nuts.
- If you’re traveling by plane, get up at least once an hour and walk up and down the aisle for a few minutes to get your blood circulating again and avoid blood clots. Do a few stretches in the aisle if there’s room. If not, stretch while in your seat. Plus, avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
- To avoid digestive issues, try to adjust your eating times so they more closely approximate your customary habits. If you’ve traveled several time zones away from home, gradually work away from your typical dining hours, rather than making an abrupt change. Probiotics can help your digestive system by adding friendly bacteria to the job your GI tract is already doing. Plus, drink bottled or distilled water.
- If you're sightseeing, put on a pedometer. Whether you're touring a quaint neighborhood, or visiting a museum, chances are you're logging a lot of steps and miles. So, put on a pedometer before you head out and see just how far you walked. While it may not be brisk, all of that walking counts towards better health.
Now it’s your turn: Do you have a heart-healthy travel tip to share?