The heart is one of the hardest working muscles in the entire body but if you don’t take care of it, all that work can take a toll. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths annually. Luckily, improving your heart’s overall health isn’t a demanding task. There are simple lifestyle changes you can implement that can have a great impact on your cardiovascular health. February is American Heart Month, so there is no better time to educate yourself and your employees on heart health, its importance and how it can impact your business.
Protecting Employee Heart Health
Heart disease, which includes strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, is a pervasive problem in the United States. In fact, more than 12 million people visit their physicians each year with heart-related problems. The following are symptoms often associated with heart disease:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
- Chest pain, tightness, pressure or discomfort
- Pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms or legs
Of those diagnosed with heart disease, nearly 600,000 die each year. This exemplifies how prevalent heart disease really is and why every individual should take steps to improve their health. Additionally, treatment and indirect costs resulting from heart disease, such as missed days of work, amount to nearly $313 billion each year. Fortunately, there is an abundance of activities/lifestyle changes your business can promote to encourage a healthy heart and wellness of your employees.
4 Ways To Boost Heart Health
There are certain uncontrollable factors that could increase the chances of heart disease, including age, sex, and family history. However, there are other factors in life which we do have control over. Stress, inactivity, obesity, smoking, and a bad diet could all put you at higher risk for heart disease. In order to live a healthy lifestyle and combat heart disease, the following tips should be considered:
- Aerobic Exercise: Performing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day will improve circulation and can help your cardiac output. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, moderate exercise which gets the heart pumping is adequate. Anything from brisk walking to cycling at least five times a week will improve your cardiovascular health and help prevent heart disease.
- Eat Smart: One of the key factors to improving your heart’s health is a balanced diet. Consider eating “superfoods” such as salmon, nuts, berries or oats which may help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Aim for a diet rich in nutrients and limit the consumption of sugars and saturated fats.
- Reduce Stress In Your Life: Stress increases the levels of cortisol in your body which leads to weight gain, a key factor in heart disease. Stress can also lead to unhealthy habits and make it difficult to stick to workout regimens or healthy diets. To improve stress levels, practice mindful meditation on a daily basis. Do activities that keep you happy and prevent stress or anxiety from entering your life.
- Limit Alcohol & Smoking: Alcohol can increase your blood pressure and put a strain on the heart muscles. If you’re going to drink, it’s important to do so in moderation and not drink too much in one sitting. Smoking is also detrimental to your cardiovascular health. Smoking leads to a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries which can restrict blood flow and lead to blood clots. Both drinking and smoking should be avoided as much as possible for optimal health.
Dealing With Job Burnout During The Pandemic
As stated earlier, one of the controllable factors in our lives is stress. Many individuals’ stress stems from their jobs. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, lack of work-life balance, and job security concerns. If left unattended, burnout—which is chronic, unchecked stress—can have serious consequences on your health, social life and career. Dealing with stress is a part of everyday life, but these uncertain times may be elevating stress levels even further. Consider the following to cope with job burnout:
- Evaluate & Discuss Your Options: Be open with your manager and discuss job expectations to limit unnecessary stress. Consider taking on different responsibilities if you feel as if you may not be able to handle the stress of a certain task.
- Seek Support: For any employee dealing with job burnout, talking with trusted co-workers, friends or family is a great way to vent and relieve stress. You should also check if you have access to an employee assistance program.
- Try Relaxation Techniques: Stress is inevitable so we must equip ourselves with tools to combat it. One great way is through relaxing mindful activities such as yoga, meditation or breathing exercises. This can help take your mind off the responsibilities that cause you stress or anxiety.
If all else fails, a change of scenery could be needed. Start small by moving your remote workspace or, if possible, sitting in a different spot in the office. Creating a new environment can refresh your mind and help you gain a new perspective. However, If you’re experiencing serious burnout, talk to your manager or mental health professional for assistance as excess levels of stress can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Employee Benefits For Healthier, More Productive Employees
As an employer, nothing should be more important to you than the well-being of your company and employees. Heart disease contributes to absences from work, poor performance and, in the worst cases, death. By motivating and empowering your employees to make smart health and wellness decisions, you can keep your health care costs low while also increasing productivity. Whether you want to promote wellness or offer programs to keep employees healthy, these initiatives can help keep your business running as productively as possible. It will have a positive impact on everyone and create a better overall work environment. Contact Alltrust today to learn more about employee wellness and employee benefits that you can offer to ensure the well-being of your business.