Research from the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles has shown that deaths from heart attacks increased by 36 percent in the winter when compared to the summer.

Cold weather tends to exacerbate problems such as high blood pressure while physical exertion from activities like shoveling snow can cause trauma to coronary arteries. It is essential that you take steps to protect your heart in the winter months.

Winter Exercise Tips

People often feel less motivated to exercise during the winter months. Failure to get enough serotonin may have something to do with this, as does the simple fact that many people do not want to exercise when it is cold. The challenge of outdoor exercise increases significantly due to the shorter days and factors like ice and snow. Here are some ideas for overcoming these obstacles:

Warm Up Indoors - It will be easier to go outdoors and exercise after an indoor warm-up. Taking about 10 minutes to do some light cardio exercise can help to raise your body temperature and thus make you feel more comfortable when you go outside.

Wear Layers - Layers can protect you from the cold and can be removed gradually as your body temperature goes up.

Work Out at Home - Home exercise equipment like stair climbers and treadmills can help to you exercise indoors in the comfort of your own home. It can make exercise less tedious since you can place a TV or tablet in front of you while exercising.

Find a Workout Partner - Even if you normally exercise alone, a partner in the winter months may help to keep you motivated. Consider taking an exercise class or asking a friend to go on walks with you.

Heart Healthy Eating in the Winter

Lack of serotonin due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can lead to poor eating habits. You may find yourself craving sweet or carb-heavy foods when the weather gets cold. A diet that features fruits and whole grain while cutting down on meat and other sources of saturated fat can lower your winter heart disease risk. Consider doing the following this winter:

Eat More Fruit and Vegetables - Produce is usually harder to find and more expensive in winter but is still important to find and eat vegetables. Consider winter root vegetables or frozen vegetables as options for getting your daily recommended amounts.

No Comfort Eating - Fat and sugar filled holiday foods are everywhere, but it is important to resist the urge to eat comfort foods during the winter months. Snacking between the meals should be limited to healthy alternatives like fruit or low-fat vegetable soup.

Limit Sodium - Many of your favorite holiday dishes may be loaded with sodium. When preparing holiday meals, it is important to check labels as a means of monitoring sodium intake.

It is possible to have a healthy diet and get adequate exercise in the winter; however, it will take a little extra effort. By following the tips above, you can get through the holidays without gaining any extra weight or increasing your risk for heart disease.