Since 1924, the American Heart Association has been fighting heart disease and stroke and helping people to live longer, healthier lives. Our local AHA shares ways that you can stay healthy, get involved and help raise awareness right here in NEPA.
You've Spent the Past Couple of Years Staying Fit and Healthy Despite the Unusual Circumstances of Mostly Staying Home.
Now you’re packing the car for a well-deserved summer road trip, fraught with fast food, convenience stores and hours of sitting around with unhealthy snacks within arm’s reach.
Can you keep up the good work? You can, experts say – if you plan.
The idea is to keep to your routine and healthy habits as much as possible on the road, just as you do at home. The key is planning, which can relieve a lot of stress along the way.
While you’re checking your budget and consulting maps and travel guides, here are some health-related factors to consider.
Stay hydrated, but wisely. Travel with water bottles and a cooler rather than stopping for sodas.
Build in breaks. When you’re sitting in the car for hours at a time, blood doesn’t pump as well throughout the body. It’s a good idea to stop every two or three hours and get up, stretch, walk around and get the blood flowing.
That’s especially true for people at risk for blood clots, including those who smoke, are pregnant, take birth control pills, or have conditions such as obesity, atrial fibrillation or diabetes. Clots can travel to the brain, heart and elsewhere, causing a stroke, heart attack or other damage.
That same advice holds for people with orthopedic problems. If you’re sitting for hours, it’s not good for your back and if you know you have back pain, bring the back support you need.
The sun doesn’t shine just at the beach. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses while you’re driving – sunshine comes through the car window. You can get sunburned on your arms and face and it’s also important to protect your eyes from too much UV exposure.
Where are your meds? Just remembering to pack them isn’t enough. A trip disrupts daily schedules, so don’t forget to take them at the right times.
And don’t stash them in the trunk. A lot of medications are temperature sensitive. If you leave them in a hot car, that’s probably not a good idea. They can lose their effectiveness.
Keeping them in the passenger compartment keeps them cool – and accessible. If you have angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart), you might need nitroglycerin. But it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have access to it. Don’t keep your pills in the suitcase.
Medical conditions don’t stay home. If you do develop symptoms or issues, it’s important not to say, “I’ll wait till we get to wherever we’re going to check it out.” If it’s serious, it’s important to get it checked out right away. Pull over, call for help or find the nearest emergency room.
Health and safety go together. Don’t be sleepy while on the road. Change drivers or pull over at night. Preserve a good night’s sleep by getting at least seven hours a night. Kids need more depending on their age.
Search your cellphone map for a grocery store. Those fast-food emporiums and gas station convenience stores may be right at the highway exit, but they’re probably loaded with unhealthy temptations. It can be difficult to find fresh fruit or vegetables at a convenience store.
Just as at home, grocery stores balance those temptations with healthy options: fruits, vegetables, nuts and something for everyone. When you’re traveling with a family, everybody has a different choice. At a grocery store, at least you can try to pick the healthier choices.