The importance of the workplace as an ideal setting, to adopt healthy behaviors with a view to prevent heart disease and stroke, the World Heart Federation (WHF) has selected the theme of World Heart Day 2010 which is going to be observed tomorrow. With the theme “Workplace Wellness: Take responsibility for your own heart health”, WHF has outlined 10 simple steps on how this can be achieved. The first six are ways to lead a healthy life and the remaining four are ideas to make your workplace healthier:
1. Healthy food intake: Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and avoid saturated fat. Beware of processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt.
2. Get active and take heart: Even 30 minutes of activity can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes and your work will benefit too.
3. Say no to tobacco: Your risk of coronary heart disease will be halved within a year and will return to a normal level over time.
4. Maintain a healthy weight: Weight loss, especially together with lowered salt intake, leads to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major factor for approximately half of all heart disease and stroke.
5. Know your numbers: Visit a doctor who will measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, together with waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index (BMI).
6. Limit your alcohol intake: Restrict the amount of alcoholic drinks that you consume.
7. Insist on a smoke-free environment: Demand the tobacco ban – ensure your workplace is 100 percent smoke-free.
8. Bring exercise to the workplace: Include physical activity in your working schedule – cycle to work if this is possible, take the stairs, exercise or go for a walk during your lunch breaks, and encourage others to do so too.
9. Choose healthy food options: Ask for healthy food at your work canteen, or find nearby cafes or restaurants that serve healthy meals
10. Encourage stress-free moments: Whilst stress has not been shown to be a direct risk fact or for heart disease and stroke, it is related to smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating, which are risk factors for heart disease.