Many of us spend a significant chunk of our lives working behind a desk. Your workplace could be affecting your heart health – here's what you can do to combat this.
Workplaces have changed dramatically over the past few decades. Just 13 years ago, smoking inside offices was still legal and acceptable while vending machines filled with sugary drinks and chocolates were a common sight. Changes in the law and a shift in attitudes have gradually made offices more heart-healthy environments. But there are still improvements that can be made to ensure your workplace is as heart-healthy as it can be.
Letting in Light
Not all of us are lucky enough to work in a bright, open-plan office filled with natural sunlight. Spend as much time as you can away from your desk. Our body uses light to control when a hormone called melatonin is released1. If you're constantly under artificial, dim lighting, you may feel more tired during the day. Natural light can also help regulate your circadian rhythm, helping you get deep sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow1. Eating lunch outside and going for a walk while on a break can give you some extra rays. Opening up curtains and windows will also help natural light get into your workplace.
Sorting out Stress
For some of us, work can cause anxiety and stress – 79% of British adults in employment frequently report feeling stressed in the workplace2. Office politics, poor communication between departments and the performance of others are all common sources of stress. According to one survey, people aged 45 to 54 are most likely to be affected2.
With a possible recession on the horizon, both businesses and individuals are under significant financial pressures. Money is the second most common cause of stress in the UK, affecting 60% of employed people2. In the UK, employers have a duty of care to their employees. You may be able to take paid leave from work due to stress3. Talk with your colleagues about how best to reduce stress in the working environment.
Food isn't just fuel for our bodies – what we eat can affect our heart health. Although there are a variety of healthy lunches and snacks sold in shops, we're often tempted by more convenient, unhealthy options. It's important to eat filling food that can get you through to the end of the day. Choose low-sodium snacks and foods that contain complex carbohydrates, like brown rice and brown bread. These carbohydrates can help you feel full for longer and probably won't cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
When you eat can also affect your heart. Skipping breakfast might save you some time but missing this important meal could affect your heart. Recent research has shown that people who always skip breakfast have an 87% increased risk of heart disease4. Try to eat balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.