Extreme Self Care: Vacation is Good for Your Heart! – Hawaii Nurses CE


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Extreme Self Care: Vacation is Good for Your Heart!

Aloha Colleagues!

Really! I have been saying this for years & have just been validated by the American Heart Association’s recent press release.

In the past, research has suggested that vacation – and breaking away from a stressful daily routine – are good for our health. One of the most-cited studies, the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, published back in 2000, tracked middle-aged men for nine years and concluded those who had taken more annual vacations were less likely to die from cardiovascular causes, including heart attacks. Other surveys and studies have linked vacations to less depression, decreased stress and better overall well-being.

The Heart Association reported on the work of Dr. Anand Rohatgi, a preventive cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “If you don’t take the time to recover and restore, you’re not going to perform as well, and you may be more prone to injury and inflammation. “Stress can raise your blood pressure, it can raise your pulse, it can lead to arrhythmia or make any of those conditions worse, and make them harder to manage,” Rohatgi said. “There are clear cardiovascular implications of maintaining balance and diminishing stress. You need to do that on some level on a daily basis, but vacations are a nice way to fully unplug and disengage.” Fully unplugging is the key. “You need to use that vacation properly,” Rohatgi said. “Even when you do take time off, you can still be on your screen with constant phone calls and email. Spending time somewhere else but still checking in all the time may diminish the value you think you’re getting.”

What you do – and how you eat – can make a difference. A sabbatical with lots of fresh air and vigorous hikes may have a healthier impact than an unlimited food-and-drink cruise or replenishing the cola and chips at every gas stop. “Sometimes we have a tendency to go away and feel it’s all or nothing,” said Andrea D’Ambrosio, a dietitian and nutrition coach in Kitchener, Ontario. “We tell ourselves, ‘I can’t have it at home but when I go away there’s unlimited drinks and buffets so I’m just going to gorge myself.’ “The goal is to try to make your vacation similar to your normal eating habits.” For example, she said, maintain regularly scheduled meals four to six hours apart and pack healthy snacks “so you’re not overly hungry at any given time.” Even so, D’Ambrosio knows food is a cherished part of any vacation.

“If you go to Italy, enjoy the pasta and the wine,” she said. But she also advises keeping a healthy balance and limiting liquid calories “because they’re sneaky. We’re more likely to consume liquid calories like alcohol and sugary beverages than food calories.” Home or away, experts agree moderation should be the theme. “Vacations are just part of the total holistic package” for health, Rohatgi said. “Managing stress and diet and exercise are always going to be key.”

Best wishes for a good vacation!

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