Take Care of Your Heart When You Travel!

February is National Heart Month, which seems amusing because our culture focuses so much on the sentimental “heart” and so little on our actual blood-pumping organ. After the romance and fattening dinners and treats of Valentine’s Day, now’s the time to start taking care of your physical heart; it’s one of the most important organs when it comes to increasing your lifespan.  It has been said that one person dies approximately every 40 seconds from heart disease, but it’s also one of the most preventable causes of death and illness. Business travel is great for connecting with coworkers, creating stronger client relationships, and exploring other locations; but some of us have found that corporate travel takes a big toll on our health.

Diet scores number one as the most important factor in obtaining optimal heart health, but it’s the one that gets ignored amidst heavy restaurant meals and catered fare at conferences. You’re not a victim of circumstance–you just have to learn to make healthier choices and have positive, sustainable fitness goals. Easy? Not entirely. Worth it? Your life might depend on healthy eating.

  • First, aim to fill up with proteins instead of fats. While the eggs at the continental breakfast buffet line are a great, reasonably lean protein, the pork breakfast sausage is not. Eat fewer greasy foods, and always get enough water and fiber in your diet. This practice will also carry the side benefit of fewer tummy troubles.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. We know it’s difficult when you’re a busy traveler, but when you look hard enough at that restaurant spread, you’ll realize that you DO HAVE CHOICES. Make the right ones. Need some nutritional guidelines? Check out this calculator for customized diets that target your calorie allowance.
  • Know where you’re going ahead of time so you can look at restaurant menus. This will help you plan your meals and avoid whatever looks tasty, and likely fattening, when you order. Also, you need to avoid eating these things that restaurant workers warn you to never consume.
  • Simple swaps can make all the difference. If big diet changes and exercise are too overwhelming for you at first, try implementing this approach. Some examples? Think oatmeal instead of sweet cereal, greek yogurt instead of cream cheese, and bagels instead of danishes.
  • Exercise whenever possible. Regardless of the hotel, most have a gym in-house. All it takes is 20-30 minutes at least three times per week. There’s really no excuse since most hotels have a fitness center steps away from your room.
  • If you’re not exercising, keep in mind that you probably can’t eat as much saturated fat as you normally would. The body’s metabolism relies on a simple input/output system. Your heart has to work much harder if you’re stressing it out with a lot of fatty, caloric foods and little exercise.
  • Keep stress as low as possible. You should unwind a little every day by calling a friend, having a glass of wine, or doing something kind for your partner or spouse.
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