The charm of winter season is unbeatable and it can lure us into indulging in good food and staying in the warm embrace of blankets. No wonder short winter days appear even shorter as our movements are slowed down due to the chilly weather. However, this winter lethargy and decreased physical activity can be detrimental to our overall health, especially cardiovascular wellness. Cases of sudden heart attacks increase during the cold season due to a number of reasons. In winters, our heart has to work extra hard to maintain body temperature and that can take a toll. Icy cold weather can also activate our sympathetic nervous system and the secretion of catecholamines increase which in turn leads to constriction of blood vessel. This can lead to increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. (Also read | 7 effective ways to boost your heart health ahead of harsh winters)
“In the winter months, it’s essential for individuals to prioritize their heart health to counter the potential impact of colder temperatures on cardiovascular well-being. Ensuring ample protection involves adhering to fundamental clinical recommendations. Cold weather can mislead individuals into underestimating their fluid needs, resulting in dehydration. Sufficient hydration is vital for cardiovascular health, supporting optimal blood viscosity and circulation. Choose heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. It’s crucial to limit the intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Engage in indoor exercises to overcome the challenges posed by inclement weather. Exercise not only contributes to weight management but also enhances cardiovascular fitness and overall heart health. Quality sleep is integral to cardiovascular well-being, influencing factors like blood pressure and stress levels. Establishing a consistent sleep routine aids in promoting heart health,” says Dr Krishan Yadav, Senior Consultant – Interventional Cardiology, Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital, Noida Extension.
To avoid attracting any trouble for your heart, there are certain morning habits that you should keep in mind in winter.
Dr Mukesh Goel, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic and Heart and Lung Transplant Surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi shares morning habits for better heart health in winters.
5 morning habits that can boost heart health
1. Stay hydrated: The winter chill can deceive us into thinking we don’t need as much water as in warmer seasons. However, staying hydrated is crucial for heart health. Begin your day by rehydrating your body. After a night’s sleep, you wake up in a mildly dehydrated state. A glass of water in the morning kickstarts your metabolism, improves blood circulation, and helps in maintaining optimal heart function.
2. Incorporate warm-up exercises: Cold weather can make it tempting to stay bundled up indoors, but physical activity remains essential, especially for your heart. A morning exercise routine doesn’t have to be extensive; simple warm-up exercises can suffice. Engaging in activities like stretching or light cardio gets your heart rate up, improves circulation, and ensures your cardiovascular system is ready for the day. This becomes particularly important in winter when the body may take longer to reach its optimal functioning temperature.
3. Opt for a heart-healthy breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and during winter, it’s an opportunity to fuel your body with heart-healthy nutrients. Choose a balanced breakfast that includes fruits, whole grains, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Consider oatmeal topped with berries and a sprinkle of flaxseeds or chia seeds. These ingredients not only provide energy but also contribute to lower cholesterol levels and overall heart health.
Dr Nityanand Tripathi, Director and HOD — cardiology and electrophysiology at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh adds other lifestyle changes in morning that can help heart health.
4. Vitamin D intake
Vitamin D deficiency is a concern during winter due to reduced sunlight exposure. Starting the day with a few minutes outdoors, particularly in the morning sunlight, can boost vitamin D levels. Additionally, considering vitamin D supplements is advisable, as they play a pivotal role in maintaining heart function and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
5. Mindful stress management
Lastly, mindful stress management is crucial. Winter blues and heightened stress levels can adversely impact the heart. Incorporating mindfulness practices such as meditation and deep breathing exercises into the morning routine can mitigate stress, reducing inflammation and improving blood pressure.