Stress for the Heart – the Workplace
November 23rd, 2017
We are among a workforce of 44 million in Germany and thereby spend the majority of our time at work.1 We sit for hours on end at our desks where we move too little, stare at the computer screen, and are chronically stressed. On top of all of this, we also often neglect our nutrition. Physical inactivity leads to a lower calorie requirement and decreased metabolism. When these negative effects are chronic, physical consequences such as tension and pain in the back, hands, or eyes arise.
What few people realize, is that the above-listed stress factors are also risk factors forcoronary heart disease. Small changes in your daily work habits can have a healthy impact on your cardiovascular system—here are a few tips for your everyday routine to get you started!
Simply integrate more movement into your daily life
1. Get off the bus/train a stop earlier or park further away from the office.
2. Ride your bike as much as possible.
3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You don’t have to jump right in to walking to the 20th floor! Start with the first three floors, slowly increasing this week by week.
4. Daily movement at lunch increases „good“ HDL cholesterol, decreases “bad” LDL cholesterol, and improves metabolism. This works against atherosclerosis, helps fight midday fatigue, and improves your ability to concentrate.
Improved quality of life at work
Stopping smoking is the most effective way to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Smoking leads to arterial calcification and, in the worst-case scenario, can lead to a heart attack. While it is not easy at first, you will feel better shortly after quitting. For example, going up the stairs will become much easier than before.
Stress at work can have considerable effects on your heart health. Regular breaks can significantly reduce this stress factor and also help you to concentrate better. Get up and move at least once each hour and make sure to regularly open the windows to get fresh air.
Interpersonal: smiling leads to relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and is good for the heart. Gossiping burdens the whole team and creates a negative atmosphere. Courtesy, appreciation, and effective feedback from management, all lead to a positive work environment. Avoid forming groups, and remember to ask your colleagues how they are doing. Support and praise each other. It also helps to discuss issues as they arise. Value the diversity and qualities of each individual team member.
Good posture is also good for your heart health. Poor sitting posture leads not only to physical problems (e.g. to the spine), but also to high blood pressure and heart damage. Sit with your hips towards the back of your chair, rest your feet flat on the floor with your hips and knees in a line (or with your knees slightly lower than your hips). The upper body can be bent slightly backwards with arm rests set up so that your shoulders are relaxed. Ideally, sit approximately 80 cm away from your computer screen. Change your position regularly or try working while standing.
You can prevent serious cardiovascular disease through regular heart checks. In addition to your regular yearly check-up with your doctor, mobile ECG systems are also available to monitor your heart on your own. For significant and valid results, and in order to detect critical events such as a heart attack, it is imperative to have an ECG with at least 12 leads. Learn more about CardioSecur’s mobile 15-lead ECG.
Get healthy via nutrition
Can you already smell the schnitzel? Do your best to avoid fast food and foods rich in fat at lunchtime. Pasta and potatoes might fill you up, but they also make you tired and exhausted, and you run the risk of gaining weight. Instead, reach for lots of vegetables, salad, and protein-rich meats such as fish and poultry. Fruits and vegetables with a high amount of potassium and nitrate can positively impact the cardiovascular system. Then treat yourself to a “cheat day” on the weekend! It is also important to drink enough water or tea. To add flavour without adding sugar, try adding fruit or mint to your water.
Positively impact your heart with just a few small changes in your workday: increased activity on your way to work and throughout the day, a healthy and well-balanced diet, not smoking, a positive work environment, and regular heart checks help you stay fit and healthy!
Sources: 1 Vgl. Statistisches Bundesamt: Erwerbstätigkeit in Deutschland: www.destatis.de/DE/PresseService/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2017/10/PD17_382_132.html, (20.11.2017).