February is National Heart Health Month and is intended to increase awareness about the prevalence of heart disease. Each year, heart disease claims more lives than all cancers combined. It’s responsible for one out of every four deaths in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
When we think about how much time we spend in the office every week, it’s easy to see how our habits contribute to our overall health and heart wellness. But you can harness those office hours to strengthen your cardiovascular system! The steps are a lot simpler than you may think. Here are three easy ways to get your blood pumping:
The National Institute of Health has reported that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cardiovascular illness by 64%! Sitting all day could go so far as to cut 7 years off your life.
Experts recommend getting up to walk around at least once every hour. In terms of exercise, simple aerobic routines and stretching in your cubicle is a great way to keep your body fit between visits to the gym. The simplest of these techniques is swapping out your desk chair for a medicine ball. Sitting on a medicine ball helps strengthen your core, corrects your posture and even can lead to calorie loss!
There are also a ton of great resources related to discrete calisthenics that you can do while at work. We like Forbes’ 10 Best Exercises To Do At Your Desk.
Diets high in fat or sugar increase cholesterol and can raise your blood pressure – two factors that have a direct link to heart disease. Unfortunately, the workplace is temptation island for snackers. From leftover birthday cake to break room doughnuts, there are plenty of fast hunger fixes that lack in nutrition.
Instead of trying to curb your appetite with denial, why not make better snacks handy for when a craving strikes? Almonds and blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin B, vitamin E, and magnesium, nutrients that contain antioxidants that kill the free radicals associated with heart disease. Steel cut oatmeal is an amazing breakfast boost, as the oats contain omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. Dark chocolate (one of our office favorites) is ideal for a sweet fix because of the presence of flavanol, a natural blood thinner.
In addition to diet and exercise, stress tops the charts for the most direct link to heart attacks and strokes. Developing a consistent work/life balance is the ultimate goal, but what happens when a last-minute request comes in at 6 pm on a Friday, or your supervisor shoots down a presentation you have spent weeks on?
Take a breath and try not to internalize! How you take that breath is also key. Business Insider has curated 3 breathing techniques for better performance, all of which employ mindful respiration. By implementing these techniques, you’ll have the ability to reduce your heart rate in anxiety-inducting situations, release built up muscular tension, and better channel where you are using your energy.
Do you have any other easy ways to keep your heart healthy? Comment with your ideas.