Ensuring your heart is healthy means looking at the bigger health picture
The state of the heart
It’s important to emphasise the scale of heart disease in the UK. It is, in fact, the country’s biggest killer – causing over 80,000 deaths a year.
And given that heart disease can be caused by lifestyle factors, this means that a large number of people have increased risk due to things like bad diet, smoking and lack of physical activity.
Improving heart health
The things we can do to improve heart health are all common sense healthy behaviours, and they will all bring benefits alongside the potential of a healthier heart. For instance, stopping smoking will also mean reduced risk for certain cancers as well as better breathing and circulation. And the benefits of healthy eating are of course very wide-ranging too, helping ensure healthy strong bones, reduced risk of diabetes type 2 – and lots more besides.
Working towards healthier hearts
When looking at health from a holistic viewpoint it’s important to take into account all the lifestyle factors and see where changes need to be made. And often we don’t think about heart health while at work, but given that the workplace is where we spend the majority of our daytime hours during the week, it’s very useful to do so.
The British Heart Foundation’s healthy heart resources for the workplace break down the three main areas like this
- Getting active at work
- Workplace healthy eating
- Workplace wellbeing
By focussing on these three areas, it’s possible to get a good idea of the things that we can all do to help promote heart health at work, and help ensure we’re doing all the right things.
Wellbeing at work means looking at things like minimising stress – and it’s certain responses to stress, if they go unchecked – that can lead to some of the unhealthy behaviours mentioned above, such as smoking, as well as overeating or drinking too much alcohol which can both increase heart disease risk.
Getting active at work can be a bit of a challenge since many of us work in jobs that involve sitting down for long periods of time. But there are ways of fitting as much activity into the day, such as cycling to work, or going for a brisk walk at lunchtime. And there are also various activity classes that can be held within the workplace such as yoga, salsa dancing and so on.
In aiming to have the healthiest heart possible, paying attention to heart health at work is essential. On top of activity, eating the right foods is also important for a health heart – and charities like the British Heart Foundation provides good information on all the basics for maintaining a healthy cholesterol level, which fats to avoid, and which to eat in small amounts, and so on.
Writing on heart health in the workplace, AXA PPP healthcare business blog states that employers with occupational health provision can be involved in supporting employees with a heart condition to manage heart disease. So while prevention is a big part of workplace heart health, managing conditions is an important occupational health aspect too.
Sally Farmer is a health and fitness writer looking at various work and office health topics.