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August 3, 2015
Hot and Healthy: Why Summer is Good for your Heart

This summer, I hope you find time to take a few spontaneous beach days or even a weeklong family vacation on the Cape, but I also hope you can lower your risk of stroke. As it turns out, there is no better time to do it than in the summer, so why not start now!

In the Cardiology department at Harrington, we split our patients’ risk factors into two categories: non-modifiable and modifiable.

Non-modifiable includes factors like age, gender, and family history – circumstances you have no control over. Modifiable factors, however, are things within your control, including cholesterol, hypertension, cigarette smoking, diabetes, obesity, and physical activity. Of course, you should always manage these factors to stay healthy, no matter what the season, but the long days and sunshine sure do make it easier.

Exercise Made Easy

Exercise is the biggest prescription for cardiovascular health. When the ground is covered in snow, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to get the recommended moderate, aerobic, or vigorous exercise. But the warmer weather gives us many more options to work with, including swimming, playing with the kids or grandkids outside, outdoor biking/running/walking/jogging, and water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, or skiing.

Doctors recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise every week. Either of these options should be paired with muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups at least two days per week.

Studies have demonstrated a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease with as little as one hour of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Even just four weeks of regular exercise can lower your blood pressure as much as 5 to 15 mmHg. The bottom line is that some exercise is better than none, so get outside and have fun picking up an old hobby or just going for a walk after work!