GREENSBORO, N.C. - The summer season is filled with hot days at the pool, tasty cookouts, family road trips, and much more.
Before you plan your next summer fun activity, you should think about your heart.
During the summer months, you should be on alert when it comes to the risks of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the U.S.
Approximately every 40 seconds, statistics show, an American will have a heart attack.
You can protect your heart from the risks of cardiovascular diseases this summer by simply living a healthy lifestyle.
The American Heart Association is offering the following summer tips for a healthy heart:
Stay Active In The Summer:
- Hydrate - Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration. For low-calorie flavor, add slices of your favorite fruits such as melon, oranges, berries or even cucumber or mint to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for two hours. Read our Staying Active in Warm Weather and Staying Hydrated - Staying Healthy.
- Protect your family from the sun - Wear wide-brimmed hats, always apply water-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
- Heat safety - Avoid intense activities between noon and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.
- Dress for the heat - Wear lightweight, light colored clothing, choose light, breathable fabrics such as cotton, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Head indoors - When the heat gets unbearable, try indoor activities at your local YMCA or rec center like basketball, swimming, yoga or racquetball.
Heart-Healthy Cookout Ideas:
- Go fish - Fish, especially oily fish like tuna and salmon, have great nutritional benefits, including omega-3 fatty acids. Rub a fillet with lemon juice and parsley or rosemary for enhanced flavor.
- Make a better burger - if you're grilling burgers, be sure to buy lean or extra lean beef. Drain off the excess fat after cooking. Avoid making huge patties. A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards (3 oz). Add finely chopped green pepper to your beef to get in some veggies.
- Eat baked fries - Slice white or sweet potatoes into sticks, lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray, pepper and paprika, and bake on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
- Make veggie kabobs - Load up skewers with mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash or other veggies. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray and grill until slightly blackened.
- Try grilled corn on the cob - leave the husks on and grill for about 30 minutes over medium flame, rotating occasionally. Remove from grill, let cool for about 5 minutes, remove husks and enjoy.
Healthy Road Trips:
- Make "rest breaks" active - Pick a road stop or park and get the family out of the car to take a brisk 10-minute walk and move around. Not only will it burn off some energy, but it can also help the driver feel rejuvenated and more alert.
- Pack healthy snacks - Finding healthier snacks at road stops can be difficult. Pack apples, oranges, grapes, raisins, whole grain fiber-rich crackers or another favorite healthy snack to take with you.
- Pack to play - Plan to incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine while you're away from home. Pack a football, soccer ball, Frisbee, or paddle balls so that you can be physically active throughout your downtime.
- Reach for water - Sitting in the car for long periods of time can make it tempting to drink soda, which has extra calories and added sugar. Pack water, fat free or lowfat milk, and small portions of 100% juice to quench your thirst.
Summer Snack Ideas:
- Fruit pops - Homemade freezer pops are an easy, fun treat for kids to make. Mash up fruit like peaches, grapes, berries or watermelon and put them in paper cups, insert a popsicle stick, freeze overnight and enjoy!
- Cool and crisp - Keep a variety of colorful veggies on hand that stay cool and crunchy for a refreshing treat, such as baby carrots, cucumber slices, and celery sticks.
- Fruit smoothies - Blend your favorite fresh fruits with fat-free or low-fat yogurt and ice for a refreshing drink or freeze and eat with a spoon like a frozen ice chill.
- Mix it up - Make your own trail mix using your favorite unsalted or lightly salted nuts, seeds and unsweetened dried fruits.
- Just slice and serve - Summer months are peak season for most fruits, just slice and serve.