It's summer, the best time to do activities outside, bask in the sun, and enjoy tasty summer treats. Having atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) doesn't mean you need to stop enjoying your favourite summer pastimes. Take a look at some summer-related activities you can enjoy.
Before you begin any physical activity, it's important to talk to your doctor first. Atrial fibrillation affects the heart, which pumps blood and oxygen throughout your body, both of which are needed when you exercise. Because of this, your doctor needs to ensure you are able to exercise safely. Your doctor will recommend a level of activity that is safe for you.
If your doctor has set limits on the amount and type of physical activity you do, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy being outdoors. Bring what you normally do indoors outside: lounge on your patio chair while reading a book or using your laptop, take a nap in the hammock, or simply have a meal outside.
Beware of smog alerts and days where the air quality index (AQI) is low. During these days, air quality is poor (filled with lots of pollutants). Such days are not good for people with heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation, because it can trigger episodes and worsen the condition. Also stay alert to your local weather forecast for heat alerts, which occur when weather changes lead to high temperature or humidity that your body may not properly adjust to. Stay indoors on heat days and smog alerts.
One of the greatest things about summer is firing up the barbecue. Having a BBQ is a fun way to bring together friends and family to enjoy good food and warm weather. However, barbecued foods can be bad for your heart, since they can be high in salt and fat. Here are some heart-healthy ways to enjoy the barbecue:
- Choose extra-lean ground beef for your burgers. For other meat entrées, choose lean proteins such as sirloin steaks, fish (e.g., salmon, trout), tofu, and chicken breasts. Don't forget to trim the fat before you pop them on the grill. Avoid sausages, hot dogs, spareribs and rib-eye steaks because these tend to be high in saturated fat.
- Make your salad colourful: choose green leafy salads; red, orange, purple, or yellow fruit salads; or a combination of fruit and veggies! Avoid mayonnaise-based salads (e.g., potato salad) to avoid the fat.
- Try grilling fruits, which are low in calories and provide lots of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Good choices to try are peaches, pineapple slices, and nectarines.
This summer, enjoy the great outdoors and don't let AFib keep you trapped indoors.
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