Simple Steps to Practice Heart Health Every Day
February highlights American Heart Month, and candy, chocolate, and a whole lot of cheesy cards are flooding convenience store aisles – all served in the imaginative shape of that vital cardio powerhouse. While we love to celebrate the ones we love, American Heart Month aims at a more personal topic – your heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. Every year more than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease. Embrace heart health month by creating an environment that gives your people’s hearts the love they deserve. How can you create a heart-healthy workplace for your people?
Our hearts can suffer without proper maintenance, and that’s a big deal. While there are several common heart-related issues, during Heart Month, people typically refer to coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is when the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked by a fatty material called plaque. These arteries are tubes that act as highways for your blood, and when they’re restricted or even blocked, traffic jams up, and blood can’t get where it needs to go. We call this blockage Heart Disease, and it dramatically increases the risk of a heart attack. Medical experts aren’t exactly sure what causes plaque build-up within our arteries, but there are clear connections between certain lifestyle habits and this common cardiovascular problem. Knowing what they are and changing these habits allows plenty of opportunities to look and feel our best while reducing our risk of severe heart-related issues down the road.
Okay, hear us out about lifestyle habit changes because it can be easy! All you have to do to maintain a healthy heart is eat healthily, be active, manage your weight, stay away from smoking, avoid heavy drinking, watch your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, and the easiest one, reduce stress. Okay, okay. That’s a lot to take in and sounds pretty daunting. Let’s start simple and break down what we know to keep this less stressful. (See! We’re already managing stress.)
Look for foods low in saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium, but if you don’t have time to focus on each label at the grocery store, you can start with a few heart-healthy treats for you and your team. Include healthy foods for meetings and events and encourage savvier snacking. Try some of these:
- Fruits and Veggies – We’re loving dried fruits like Peeled Snacks.
- Whole Grains
- “Good Fats” – The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends Omega 3s for heart health. We suggest trying seafood or nuts and seeds. You can even spring for heart-healthy fats like the ones in olive oil and avocados.
Make heart-conscious snacking easy for you and your team by stocking the breakroom with plenty of delicious, better-for-you options.
The recommended standard of exercise each week is around 150 minutes. That sounds intense and might leave you thinking that you’ll just stick to eating healthier but hold on. Exercise can include anything that raises your heart rate, such as walking, taking the stairs, or dancing around the office to annoy your coworkers. We recommend that you start by taking it slow and remaining consistent with whichever activity you choose for exercise – although we secretly hope that it’s dancing around the office, which leads into a conga line.
Cut the Excess
If it intuitively feels bad for you, cut back a little bit. Moderation might be the best practice in some areas, and you’ll quickly notice a huge difference in how you feel. Also, remember managing and eliminating stress? Yes! You need to do that. Try noticing when you’re stressed, and look into practices to respond and reduce stress to keep your heart strong.
Heart health is serious and can be pretty scary. However, like most things, you can make small changes in your day-to-day activities that will make a significant impact, like reducing your risk for common heart disease problems. And to kick-start, healthy heart habits in your workplace, get started today or look for Choice-Plus items in your break room or market.