5 top tips for staying healthy on holiday

Holidays come with lots of temptations, but how can you resist them and stay heart-healthy whilst enjoying your trip? Follow our tips while you’re away and get the best of both worlds.

1. Treat yourself – but not too much

Slices of watermelon 

“Of course you’re going to have a treat, you’re on holiday,” says Dr Jessamy Hibberd, Chartered Clinical Psychologist. “But it doesn’t have to be all the time. It’s about having an 80:20 rule, where you eat healthily 80 per cent of the time.

Allow yourself the occasional treat, but think about the fruit and veg you enjoy, and eat more of those. “Make choices about what you’re eating, rather than it happening on autopilot,” says Dr Hibberd. “If there’s a buffet, it’s about taking one plate and that being it, rather than going up again.”

2. Watch your alcohol intake

 

‘Holiday heart’ is an abnormal heart rhythm caused by binge drinking, which people are more likely to do on a break. In hot climates, alcohol carries extra risks.

“Try not to overindulge in alcohol,” says Dr Robert Henderson, Consultant Cardiologist at Trent Cardiac Centre in Nottingham.  “It has a diuretic effect and can lead to dehydration.” Try to stay below the recommended maximum of 14 units per week. 

3. Stay active

Swimming accessories next to a swimming pool 

Summer holidays are ideal for relaxation, but there are chances to get active too. “Try to do it in a fun way,” says Dr Jessamy Hibberd, Chartered Clinical Psychologist. “You’re probably going to be swimming already, so make time for a few lengths. If you’re doing trips, make sure there’s walking involved. Do things you enjoy.”

Some people find it easier to get active on holiday, thanks to the break from routine and extra free time. “If you’re trying to build a habit while you’re away, plan it into your morning, before you’ve had a chance to put it off,” says Dr Hibberd.

If you’re holidaying in a hot climate, morning could be the best time to get active for other reasons. Dr Henderson advises avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day.

If you’re not used to exercise, start gently, whatever the time. Chat to your doctor before you go about what might be appropriate for you. 

4. Hydrate properly

Two glasses of orange juice and pairs of sunglasses 

Whether you’re getting active or not, “the most important thing is to stay hydrated,” says Dr Henderson. “Drink regularly and before you get thirsty. If you’ve got heart failure and you’re on large doses of diuretics, be aware that you may need a lower dose.”

5. Bring your healthy habits home

Suitcase and sun hat in an airport departure lounge 

Keep the holiday vibe by making healthy new habits part of your everyday routine. “It takes time to build new habits,” says Dr Hibberd. “Set clear goals, think about what you enjoyed while you were away, and make a note of why you enjoyed doing it and the gains you got.”

Setting aside time for your chosen activity is vital too. Dr Hibberd suggests trying to work it into your existing routine, for example, do 20 minutes of exercise when you get up, make everyday journeys on foot or bike where you can, or take a lunchtime walk or swim. The longer you maintain your new lifestyle, the easier it will become. 

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