Don't Take a Vacation from Heart Health

It's July, which means many of us are going on family vacations. Think that taking a break from your everyday routine means you can skip your heart-healthy habits? Think again!

You can enjoy your time off without taking time off from heart heath. Just follow our tips for eating right and staying active while on vacation.

Heart-Healthy Restaurant Dining

Many restaurants offer delicious "healthy" menu options or will prepare your food to order. Consult the menu carefully and don't be afraid to ask your waiter questions.

Follow these tips when ordering your meal:

  • Cut out pre-meal "extras." Avoid ordering cocktails and appetizers and skip the bread basket; they're just sources of extra fat, sodium and calories.
  • Avoid the fat. Ask for butter, cream cheese, salad dressings, sauces and gravies to be served on the side, so you can control the amount you eat. Instead of fried fish or chicken, ask for it baked, boiled or grilled. Avoid dishes with lots of cheese, sour cream and mayo. Use low-fat or fat-free salad dressings.
  • Skip the salt. Put the shaker down and steer clear of high-sodium foods – including any food that’s served pickled, in cocktail sauce, smoked, in broth or au jus, or in soy or teriyaki sauce.
  • Choose desserts carefully. Fresh fruit, fruit ice, sherbet, gelatin and angel food cake are good alternatives to more traditional fat- and cream-laden desserts. Use fat-free or 1% milk in coffee instead of cream or half-and-half.
  • Ask questions! Don't be afraid to ask your waiter about ingredients or how a dish is prepared. Find out what kind of oils foods are cooked in, ask whether the chef can prepare your food to order (for example, going light on the butter), see if smaller portion sizes are available, and request healthy substitutions when available (a side of broccoli instead of fries, etc.).

Relax: Exercise is Easy on Vacation

We all want to unwind when we have time off, but that doesn't mean you should go totally docile! Staying active - at least some of the time - is also a great way to relieve stress.

Here are some easy ways to get a workout in while away from home:

  • Plan outings that include physical activity (hiking, backpacking, swimming, etc.)
  • See the sights in new cities by walking, jogging or bicycling.
  • Go dancing! Explore the city's nightlife and hit the dance floor on fast numbers instead of slow songs.
  • Park the rental car and walk. Instead of circling the lot for the best spot, park farther away  and walk to the tourist attraction.
  • Take the hotel stairs. The elevator may go up — but it doesn’t make your heart rate climb.
  • At the beach, sit and watch the waves instead of lying flat. Better yet, get up and walk, run or fly a kite.
  • When golfing, walk instead of using a cart.
  • Play singles tennis or racquetball instead of doubles.
  • At the lake, rent a rowboat instead of a canoe.


Thanks to our partner, the American Heart Association, for the content of this article. For more heart-healthy nutrition information, please visit:

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