Healthy Tip: Give your heart a bonus

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Give your heart a bonus

Whether you’re in your busiest season, paying off a holiday, accumulating lieu time to save childcare costs, or simply trying to make ends meet, a survey for the 2018 Modern Families Index report suggests that workplace culture could be costly for the hearts of families.   

Over work can cause physical burnout, reduce quality sleep, drive up blood pressure and possibly lead to an irregular heartbeat.  However, the damaging effects of long working hours on heart health may simply be the result of a number of poor lifestyle choices.  

If you’re one of the 40% of parents whose work life prevents you taking enough physical exercise or eating healthily, take control of the things you can change and become more resilient to the risks of heart disease with Heart Research UK’s Healthy Tips. 

Have a heart healthy slumber
Good quality sleep of around 7-9 hours allows your blood pressure to drop, stress hormones to reduce and biochemical processes to stabilise, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.  Staying within the low risk guidelines of less than 14 units of alcohol, including at least three alcohol free days and avoiding alcohol before bedtime will help you achieve a heart healthy slumber and have more energy for an active day ahead. So instead of a tipple go for non-stimulant drinks such as herbal tea or skimmed milk, switch off anything that requires brain energy such as mobile phones and televisions and breathe deeply for a peaceful sleep.  

Exercise needn’t be scary
Hitting the gym after work every night isn’t for everyone and may be over overrated if you’re then too tired or too sore to leave your chair or take the stairs.  Physical activity should be realistic and sustainable long term and not one extreme or the other.  Our advice is to reduce the amount of time sitting and include small bouts of activity which raise the heart rate throughout the working day. Whether it’s short bursts of one to nine minutes or sets of ten to fifteen minutes, if it all adds up to around 30 minutes daily, even light activity may increase your chances of living longer.  With healthier years to be gained, make a plan to move more in the workplace, parking the car a little further away, taking the stairs instead of the lift, replacing seated meetings for corporate walks or starting something fun like a corporate squat challenge. 

Pick yourself up
Coffee, cigarettes, sugary snacks and energy drinks are a popular crutch for getting through a long working day.  The stimulating effects of these are short lived and could affect your heart health or even shorten your life.  If you know any of these guilty pleasures are getting the better of your heart, set SMART goals of how to ditch the habit.  For instance, wising up on 100 calorie snack options and leaving the vending machine change at home could help manage your weight, waistline and arteries. If you’re serious about quitting your vice, make a realistic and achievable pledge to your work colleagues and seek support by way of healthy competition or setting up a sponsorship page.  

Eat well on the go
Whether you bring a packed lunch or buy from the staff canteen, make heart healthy choices for your work lunch.  Choose wholemeal bread for sandwiches and ditch creamy salad dressings for heart-healthy fats such as olive oil.  Fill up on a handful of fruit, crunchy veg and unsalted nuts instead of grazing through crisps and sweets and plan your evening meal so you’re not tempted to call for a takeaway on your way home.  For simple delicious ideas for eating well at work and at home, take a look at the Happy Healthy Heart Cookbook.

Small simple changes all add up, so for the sake of a healthy heart, it’s time to rebalance and take your first step towards a healthier, happier, longer life.