It goes without saying how vital the heart is, but did you know that February is National Heart Health Month? To raise awareness, we have a helpful list inspired by the American Heart Association (AHA) to help stay heart-smart, even while at work.
Feeling overwhelmed can take a toll on the heart. Exposure to stress for extended periods of time can raise blood pressure, cholesterol, and cause the body to release hormones that force the heart into overdrive, causing the body’s fight or flight responses to kick in (which can lead to panic attacks or palpitations).
If your stress is work-related, try to identify the main cause (or causes) and come up with a plan to eliminate them. Whether it’s by dealing with the problem head-on or putting your phone on airplane mode as soon as you leave for the day. Try to create boundaries so work stress doesn’t follow you home.
Your heart is a muscle, which means it needs to be worked out, too. Inactivity can put stress on the heart and lead to high cholesterol, clogged arteries, and can increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.
If you have a job where you’re sedentary for most of the day, it can be difficult to find time to squeeze in extra activity. During breaks, try to take a 15-minute walk, either around the building or outside. If you’re not able to leave your desk for that long, you can try doing a few stretches recommended by the AHA to help keep your heart happy.
Many Americans trying to be health-conscious will turn to diet drinks to maintain their well-being. However, the AHA advises if you want to be healthy, it’s best to skip diet drinks and go straight to water. Low-calorie drinks have been linked to cardiovascular diseases, as well as heart attacks and strokes. Water is the best option for the body. As well as having zero calories, it fights against dehydration, which can lead to heart failure, as well as a host of other heart-related issues.
Try to keep a water bottle with you throughout the workday, taking sips periodically and refilling often. Ideally, the human body needs at least 3.7 liters a day, which is about 15 eight-ounce glasses. If you have trouble drinking more water, you can stay hydrated by supplementing water-enriched snacks, like celery, cucumbers, or watermelon.
If you want to learn more about heart health, visit the American Heart Association’s home page. There you can read articles about the heart, information for how to identify heart issues, and donate to the organization’s efforts to study and prevent heart disease.