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Travel tips for the heart smart among us

Feb 3, 2012, 8:21 a.m.

Far too many people see taking vacations as a free pass to eat whatever they want and worry about the consequences afterwards. How many times have you yourself promised to go on a diet as soon as you returned from that luxury cruise or Holiday visit to see the family? We’re all guilty of that. But for those of us who are at elevated risk for heart disease, there’s no such thing as taking a vacation from a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the most helpful heart healthy travel tips to help keep you on track while you vacation.

Plan heart healthy travel activities. Wherever you go, there will be plenty of opportunities to get your exercise, even if you’re on vacation mode. Hopping aboard a cruise ship? There’s plenty of room to walk around each day to keep your heart and muscles pumping. Cloistering up in a romantic hotel for a few days? Seek out nearby health clubs where you can get a day pass, or find out if the hotel you’ll be staying at offers gym services.

Create a daily agenda and stick to it. There’s nothing easier to do than to fall into relaxation mode because you’ve got nothing special planned and are in no rush to do it. But if you make sure to plan out your activities in advance, you won’t have the opportunity to let last night’s dinner go to work on your waistline—you’ll be too busy being on the move, which is one of the best possible heart healthy travel tips.

Eat smart. Heart healthy travel is only an impossibility if you’ve convinced yourself that there’s no way in the world to eat healthy when you’re on vacation. Fortunately, as long as you recognize that’s just an excuse to enable you to ignore your heart health, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to eat smart wherever you are. Opt for heart healthy or vegetarian dishes when you’re dining in restaurants and choose fruit desserts instead of cardiovascular no-no’s.

Be aware of your surroundings. Vacation destinations that experience extreme climates (whether hot or cold) can be unhealthy for those with existing heart issues. Plan ahead by researching the climate of your destination and by finding out what the expected forecast will be when you’re there. Pack vacation attire that matches up well with the expected climate. Over-exerting yourself in hot or humid weather is bad for you, but so is overdoing it in cold weather. Altitude is another important consideration, because the higher the altitude, the less oxygen your body gets—making your heart work harder even when resting. You don’t have to avoid vacation destinations with high altitudes, but it’s a smart idea to hold off on any high energy activities until you’ve had a couple of days to acclimate.

There are many ways to achieve heart healthy travel that won’t cause you any major health setbacks, but in the end it’s entirely up to you to ensure you make those smart choices.

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