Although desk jobs tend to provide a comfortable environment, ideal hours, and promotion opportunities, they have employees sitting at a desk for 40+ hours a week. Majority of these employees drive to work, take the elevator, then sit on the couch at home.
When making proactive choices for your health, sitting at a desk all day is one of the worst things. Not only does sitting increase weight gain, but it’s also associated with heart disease and other heart conditions. By making small changes to your everyday routine, you can improve your heart health and overall wellness.
Tips to Improve Heart Health While Working at a Desk
Just because you work at a desk, doesn’t mean that you cannot maintain your health. With some minor changes to your lifestyle and increased levels of commitment, you can improve your heart and cardiovascular health. The following tips will ensure a healthy, happy heart.
#1 Take Breaks
While at work, you can’t abuse your breaks. However, you can move around. Every hour or so, get up and move around. You can walk to the bathroom, walk up and down the stairs, or anything that gets you moving. Even if you stand up and stretch, this helps improve circulation.
Once lunchtime rolls around, take a real break. It’s been found that as little as one in five employees takes their full lunch break away from their desk. It’s important that you take a break, even for 15-20 minutes. This will allow you to walk around. It has been found that three, 5-minute walks, can actually reverse harm that’s caused to leg arteries. Artery dilation was reduced by 50%.
#2 Exercise at Your Desk
You cannot get up and jog at your desk, but you can participate in various exercises. The following exercises will boost circulation, while improving oxygen intake and muscle control:
- Forward Bend: This exercise helps improve oxygen intake to your brain and other vital organs. You can perform this exercise by your desk (which may even motivate others to join). Try to perform this exercise once a day, as it helps reduce stress, while stimulating your organs.
- Desk Push-Ups: Not only will you increase upper body strength, but you’ll get your heart pumping. Perform these push-ups by leaning on your desk, pushing your body away from the desk, then back to your starting point. Repeat this 20 times, performing one set each day.
- Use an Exercise Ball: More and more employees are trying an exercise ball within their work environment. When using a ball or even a stool, you force yourself to sit upright. When you participate in brief, yet frequent muscle contractions, you decrease your risk of metabolic disease.
There are many ways to keep moving, so focus on stretching and staying active. If you cannot perform these exercises at your desk, then there are ways to target you heart health at lunch or after work.
#3 Walk or Cycle to Work
If possible, get exercise in before and after work. The easiest way to do this is walk or cycle to work. If you’re not in walking distance from work, then go for a morning walk before your commute. You should also focus on an after-work activity, such as yoga, swimming, or jogging.
Although this can help you stay active, it’s vital that you try to move as much at work as possible. Whenever you have the option, take the stairs. If you have a question for an employee, walk over to them and ask. We’re so used to sending a convenient email, which keeps us glued to our chairs.
Additional Heart Health Tips
While you’re not at work, practice some or all of the following tips:
- Quit Smoking: When you smoke, you significantly increase your risk of coronary heart disease. After you quit, a year later, your risk will reduce by approximately 50%. With minimal effort, you can greatly reduce your chance of a heart attack or stroke.
- Cut out Saturated Fats: Whenever possible, choose vegetarian or lean meat options. You should also limit your dairy intake.
- Manage Your Weight: Being overweight has serious consequences on your heart. If you’re currently overweight, start making simple lifestyle changes. Instead of buying pizza on your lunch break, bring a salad and a whole-grain sandwich to work. You should increase your physical activity, which will motivate you to be more active at work as well.
- Cut Down on Salt: Salt can have a negative effect on your blood pressure. You should stop using table salt, especially because so many food items already contain high levels of salt.
- Drink less Alcohol: Alcohol not only affects your heart directly, but it also makes you gain weight (furthering the issue). Cut down on alcohol beverages, as they’re damaging to your vital organs. You should be consuming no more than one alcoholic beverage per day.
- Get Enough Sleep: If you don’t get enough sleep, you can increase stress levels, which negatively affect your blood pressure. You can also increase your risk of heart attack, diabetes, obesity, and depression.
If you work at a desk, be proactive in terms of your heart health. Think about moving throughout the day. Once you are conscious of moving, it will come naturally. Focus on heart healthy foods, while exercising, and cutting out bad habits. Your desk job does not need to harm your health, as long as you’re actively seeking a healthier lifestyle.