By Cody Boren, Occupational Athletic Trainer
Brrrr. It is officially that time of the year! It’s time to bundle up inside and get warm and cozy while we watch our favorite Christmas movies, right? This time of the year brings joy and happiness to just about anyone without the name Grinch or Scrooge, but it can also be the most dangerous and shocking time if you don’t take the right precautions. During the winter months the number of heart attacks and fatalities as a result, dramatically increases in parts of the country that see below freezing temperatures and significant snowfall.
The cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, which raises blood pressure. Hormonal changes due to winter months can make blood more susceptible to clotting, which can increase the size of what used to be small blockages. Even the reduced exposure to the sun and Vitamin D can have a negative health effect on your heart. Not to mention when it comes time to shovel that driveway, the increased workload on your heart with all of these contributing factors is a perfect storm for disaster. Don’t let your holiday season become ruined by the potentially terrible outcome of heart disease. Follow these steps to reduce your risk of suffering a heart related illness.
- Set up a physical with your doctor to go over your heart health
- Reduce stress – this is a time to be happy, so don’t settle for anything less
- Avoid high fat, greasy foods
- Begin exercising – start the New Year’s resolution early
- Take walks outside to acclimate your body to the weather
- Do not consume alcohol before or after exerting yourself outdoors
- Go slow and take a lot of breaks when shoveling (your body is working harder than you think)
- Be aware of all of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack
Cody Boren currently resides in York, PA where he was born and raised. Cody attended Bloomsburg University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science. While he studied at Bloomsburg, he was also assisting graduate students with strength and conditioning programs for six varsity level teams. After college, he coached three sports for two local high schools, continued strength and conditioning, conducted personal training sessions at two athletic clubs, and worked as a health-screening technician.