Healthy Heart Month

How to look after your Heart Health in the Workplace

February is Heart Month, and can provide us all with a timely reminder to look after our heart health. Every single day our heart beats around 100,000 times, and continuously pumps blood around our bodies, delivering oxygen and vital nutrients to our muscles and organs. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) includes a number of conditions and currently affects around 7 million people in the UK

Although there are a number of risk factors, lifestyle plays a huge role in keeping our heart healthy, and the good news, it’s never too late to start!

Keep reading to see how small everyday lifestyle changes and habits can make a big difference.

 Nutrition

It may sound obvious, but a balanced and varied diet, including all of the food groups, is the best way to support our overall health. We don’t need to do anything fancy, and small, consistent changes can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Here are some things to consider:

  • Increase your intake of unsaturated fats – these can be found in foods such as nuts seeds, avocado, olive oil and oily fish. Think about how you could build these into weekly snacks and meals.
  • Hit your 5 a day – try to include fruit, vegetables or salad with every meal. These include vital minerals and vitamins, as well as being a valuable source of fibre.
  • Include high fibre foods – fibre can help to support heart health, alongside fruit and vegetables, prioritise wholegrain carbohydrates such as cereals, bread and pasta.

Movement

We all know that regular movement is great for our wellbeing, and our heart health is certainly no exception. By incorporating aerobic exercise and resistance training into our week, we can lower our blood pressure and heart rate, manage our cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy weight. The options to get active are endless, but the most important thing is that it fits your lifestyle, you can do it consistently, and that you enjoy it! Here are some top tips for staying active at work:

  • Break up long periods of sitting – being sedentary for long periods of time can be bad for our health, try setting reminders to get up and move or stretch every hour.
  • Walking meetings – these are a great way to get those all-important steps in. Whether it’s face to face or over the phone, grab a colleague and walk and talk.
  • Use your lunchbreak – commit to getting outside and moving, the combination of exercise and fresh air can do wonders for our physical and mental wellbeing.

 

Stress Reduction

Stress can cause spikes in our blood pressure and is a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Stress can also lead to lifestyle habits which aren’t great for our health, such as smoking, excessive drinking, over eating and poor sleep. Managing stress and prioritising rest and relaxation in and out of the workplace is vital, here are some great ways to get started:

  • Practicing mindfulness – try to spend some of the day being in the present moment, take a break from your emails, focus on your senses or give meditation a go.
  • Focus on your breathing – even just 5 – 10 minutes a day can reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Slow and controlled breathing can calm our nervous system and can be used when things feel overwhelming.
  • Prioritise self-care – self care looks different to everyone. It could be exercise, hobbies, a bath, reading, or spending time with loved ones. Find something that recharges you and make time every week.

The British Heart Foundation has some fantastic resources to further support you with healthy living – https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/healthy-living.

 

Employee Health Screening

Health assessments are a great way to identify the health status of your employees and to identify trends within your workforce. Even better, they can be conducted on-site, at your place of work. We Are Wellbeing offer a Heathy Heart check which looks at resting heart rate, blood oxygen, blood pressure and total cholesterol levels, alongside personalised lifestyle advice. Remember, a healthy employee is a happy employee. For more information on our health screening options, click here.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many ways we can look after our heart. But don’t try and do everything at once. Small habits on a daily basis are more effective in the long run. And if you are concerned about your heart health, please speak to your GP.

Here at We Are Wellbeing we offer webinars and workshops on nutrition, physical activity and stress, if you are interested in digging into these topics in more detail, get in touch.

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