Staying healthy during the holidays can be a challenge. Between festive food, cold temperatures, crowded malls, travel and a multitude of social events squeezed into what are often already busy schedules, the holidays can often result in an unhealthy lifestyle. Learn how to avoid the holiday pitfalls and protect your health with our 10 tips for happy and healthy holidays.


1. Keep Moving While Traveling.

Deep-vein thrombosis, which is the formation of blood clots in your legs, can occur when sitting for long periods. It can be life-threatening if clots break off and travel to other parts of the body like the heart or lungs. Whether you are on the road or in the air, one of the most important things you can do is keep moving. Take breaks to stretch your legs every hour, perform leg and ankle exercises while seated, and consider using compression stockings.


2. Stay Hydrated.

It can be hard to stay properly hydrated during the colder months. We often feel less thirsty in cooler weather. If we’re consuming more alcohol at all of those holiday get-togethers, dehydration can creep up fast. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, and avoid drinking too much alcohol or sugary drinks. Staying hydrated while you travel is also smart, as dehydration can increase your risk of developing blood clots. Dehydration can also make you more vulnerable to catching a cold or the flu if the mucous membranes in your airways are dry.


3. Watch What (And How Much) You Eat.

Aside from the impact it can have on your waistline, eating too much (especially foods high in sugar, salt and fat) can increase your risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. While it’s fine to enjoy the occasional treat or overindulge for one meal, it shouldn’t be every day. Try to keep your healthy eating habits at social events by avoiding the appetizers, filling at least half of your plate with vegetables and eating slowly. Stop eating before you feel full. Say no to seconds, or at least delay to see if you really need that second helping. Having a small, healthy meal or snack before an event is also a good way to avoid overeating.


4. Drink Smart.

It can be easy to overdo it over the holidays, but drinking too much can cause more harm than just an awful hangover. Pay attention to how many drinks you are consuming, and try to alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. You can also reduce the amount of drink calories you consume by choosing lower-calorie options like light beer, wine or a spirit with soda water rather than a sugary cocktail.


5. Make Time To Exercise.

Stay active during the holidays. Ideally, keep to your regular fitness regimen. If you can’t, fitting in activity where you can is better than none at all. Take the stairs at work, park as far away from the mall as you can, go for a walk after dinner, and play with the kids — anything you can do to keep moving. Setting an alarm to remind yourself to get up from your desk regularly at work is another great way to make sure you keep yourself moving.


6. Get Enough Rest.

Sleep is one of the most important influencers on our health. People who do not get enough rest have a higher risk for heart disease, obesity and other chronic conditions. Not getting enough sleep can also weaken your immune system and significantly impact your quality of life. Don’t fret if you have a late night here or there, but your goal should be to get 7 to 9 hours of good-quality sleep most nights for good health.


7. Be Careful In Cold Weather.

We all know that cold temperatures can bring hazards like slips on icy surfaces, accidents on the road and frostbite, but the cold can also put your heart health in danger. In cold weather, the blood vessels close to the skin constrict in order to retain core heat, forcing your heart to work harder. This extra stress can raise blood pressure and increase risk for blood clots, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. People with cardiovascular disease and the elderly are the most at risk, but everyone should take precautions to stay warm.


8. Avoid The Flu.

Your risk of catching the seasonal flu and other viruses rises during the holiday season. With more people traveling and socializing in confined spaces, the opportunity for viruses to spread increases. You can reduce your risk of catching the flu by practicing social distancing; washing your hands thoroughly and frequently; keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth; and getting a flu shot. The flu can be more serious for those over the age of 65 and people with chronic health conditions or heart disease.


9. Decompress the Stress.

Even if you love the holidays, there’s a good chance you still find them stressful. Managing stress is important at all times of the year, but it is especially the case during the holiday season. Take time to relax and rejuvenate. Whether it’s scheduling a massage, taking a walk, reading a book, having a movie night on the couch or even taking five minutes for a quick meditation, make sure you are taking regular timeouts to recharge.


10. Get Back On Track Right Away.

Don’t wait until the holidays are over to get back to a healthy lifestyle. As tempting as it may be to put off diet and exercise or getting more sleep until the new year, don’t let one big night or calorie-laden day turn into a binge or a few days without exercise. Also, don’t let improper sleep habits last for weeks. Hit the reset button. Get back to your healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle habits right away. That way, you can avoid damaging your health and kick off the new year feeling great.


The team at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists consists of North Louisiana’s leading experts in cardiovascular care. To schedule an appointment, please call our office at (318) 798-9400.