Cold Weather, your Heart and Exercise

Winter is upon us. Winter weather can affect your heart and circulation, but there are things you can do to stay warm and healthy. During winter, it’s important to know the effects of cold weather on your body, and the risks for your heart health. The drop in temperature can impact your health, specifically your heart.

The main risk factor is biological: The cold causes blood vessels to contract, which can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Angina, or chest pain due to coronary heart disease, can also worsen in winter when coronary arteries constrict in the cold. Furthermore, your heart has to work extra hard to maintain a healthy body temperature, and winter wind can make this even more difficult because it causes the body to lose heat more quickly. Lifestyle changes, particularly hard physical activity, can impact your risk as well. It is cold, blustery, snowy, rainy, grey outside. This makes it very hard to be motivated to go outdoors and walk. Mostly heart patients say that they will begin their exercise when the weather improves. Your health should not be dependent upon the weather!! Do exercise daily.

Getting regular exercise when you have heart disease is important. Exercise can make your heart muscle stronger. It may also help you be more active without chest pain or other symptoms. Exercise may help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. If you have diabetes, it can help you control your blood sugar. Regular exercise can help you lose weight. You will also feel better. Exercise will also help keep your bones strong. Exercise also promotes positive physiological changes, such as encouraging the heart’s arteries to dilate more readily. It also helps your sympathetic nervous system (which controls your heart rate and blood pressure) to be less reactive. Exercise reduces levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol). Bad cholesterol can clog the arteries and can cause a heart attack. At the same time, exercise can raise levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol). HDL helps protect against a heart attack by carrying fatty deposits out of the arteries. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can speed up weight loss. Regular exercise builds lean muscle, which burns more calories than fat. This helps you burn calories faster, even when you’re sitting still.

If you have no desire to go out for your exercise or walking, then never fear. There are plenty of exercises you can do at your home. You can do walking at your home at any time of the day. But heart patients will not walk after eating. Also, you can do yoga at your home.