Work from Home Hacks: How to Lessen the Risk of Heart Disease


Our working methods are evolving. Workplaces are becoming more flexible, with companies adjusting their policies to enable employees to work from remote locations, primarily their homes. This is to minimize people’s exposure to the coronavirus, so more and more companies and employees have work-from-home (WFH) arrangements nowadays.

Indeed, more and more people are reaping the benefits of this type of work setup. While this can be a positive development for those who require more flexibility in their schedules, it may pose some health risks if you are not watchful.

Yes, working from home also introduces a host of new challenges. Inconveniences may arise: technology may not function properly, you may need to use your own computer, or you may not have the complete set of materials or tools needed to perform your tasks.

Here are other potential challenges of working from home:

·       Lack of motivation

·       Susceptibility to isolation

·       Constant disruptions

·       Increased likelihood of a sedentary lifestyle

·       Difficulty finding work-life balance

·       Feelings of burnout

·       Irregular or unhealthy eating habits

·       Lack of exercise or physical inactivity

Because the stresses of working from home can have an impact on physical, social, and psychological health, it is important to take action to maintain one’s wellness.

Since working from home could have several negative effects, including harming one’s cardiovascular health, remote workers must be educated about how to prevent heart attacks.

But, come to think of it, if you are part of today’s WFH workforce, home workout programs can be easier to pull off. You could use the time you used to spend on daily commutes to engage in a health and fitness routine before or after your workday—whatever works better for you.

An Overview of Heart Disease at the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amidst the COVID pandemic, the impact of numerous heart problems has only been magnified. Even though the global rate of death and morbidity due to heart attacks is underestimated, many countries continue to suffer the consequences of its toll.

According to various research, those with pre-existing heart issues have an increased risk of death as a result of COVID infection. Co-morbidity of diabetes and hypertension increases the risk by several notches, owing to weakened immunity and a slower bodily response to inflammation as people get older, as well as viral myocarditis to some extent.

And with most countries primarily focusing on developing a vaccine for COVID-19, people are advised to practice preventive measures such as physical distancing, sanitation, hand washing, wearing of PPEs, and so on—in the hopes of mitigating the spread of the virus, which might call for hospital treatments at a time when healthcare systems around the world can barely keep up.

Impact of Poor Lifestyle on Heart Health

Your heart works hard every second of the day, pushing blood throughout your body. It's pumping as you exercise, sleep, and even as you read this on your screen right now. As much as taking care of your heart is a huge part of monitoring your health, it's easy to overlook the importance of this vital organ.

Heart illnesses occur when your heart and blood arteries do not function properly, encompassing conditions such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

Plaque—which includes fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other chemicals—can build up in your arteries, causing many of these heart issues. Plaque makes it more difficult for blood to reach your heart and can totally block blood flow in some situations.

Eventually, plaque buildup can result in a heart attack or stroke. Some risk factors for heart disease are beyond control, such as your age or family history.

Other factors, however, you can manage. Here are easy, effective strategies to enhance your heart health on your own.

7 Effective Ways to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

1.     Learn about the risks that apply to you

Consult with your trusted healthcare provider if you're between the ages of 40 and 75 and have never had a heart attack or stroke. Learning in advance about your potential risks can help to predict your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke in the following years.

Certain factors, such as smoking, renal disease, or a family history of early heart disease, can raise your susceptibility. Knowing your risk factors can guide you and your medical team in determining the best preventive measures and treatment options for you. Many risk factors can be reduced by altering one's lifestyle.

2.     Stay active and get moving

Daily physical activity can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risk of developing other heart-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

If you haven't been active while working from home, you may need to gradually start getting into the habit of exercising. You could incorporate vigorous aerobic activity weekly, such as jogging. If you’re up for it, you may also do two or more strength training sessions a week. It’s also recommended to do 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, daily.

Even short bursts of activity are beneficial to the heart, so if you can't achieve those while working from home, don't give up. Moving about can help, and activities like gardening, housekeeping, using the stairs, and walking the dog can all help. You don't have to work out hard to benefit from exercise, but you can see bigger results by increasing the intensity, duration, and frequency.

3.     Stop smoking

Quitting smoking or using smokeless tobacco is one of the healthiest things you can do for your heart. Even if you don't smoke, you should avoid secondhand smoke whether working at home or anywhere else. The chemicals in tobacco can harm your heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke depletes the oxygen in your blood, raising your blood pressure and pulse rate as your heart has to work harder to give enough oxygen to your body and brain.

However, there is some good news. In as short as a day after quitting, your risk of heart disease begins to decrease. Your risk of heart disease lowers to around half that of a smoker after a year without cigarettes. You'll start reaping benefits as soon as you quit smoking, not just health-wise but also finances-wise since you’ll be able to trim your expenses. Then you can put the money you’ve saved toward health insurance.

4.     Eat a healthy diet

It’s common for people working from home to resort to fast food, but a nutritious diet can help protect your heart and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and risk of type 2 diabetes.

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins, and fish should all be part of your diet. Limit your intake of refined carbs, processed meats, and sugary beverages. Reduce sodium, added sugars, and saturated fats while avoiding trans fats. Make the habit of reading the nutrition facts label on packaged items.

5.     Maintain a healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is another effective approach to avoiding heart disease. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is a good target. Abdominal fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease much more than fat on other parts of your body, should also be avoided.

Even a minor weight loss can result in significant improvements in your health. Reduce your weight by 3% to 5% to lower your blood fats (triglycerides), blood sugar (glucose), and risk of type 2 diabetes. Losing even more weight aids in the reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

6.     Find effective ways to cope with stress

Unhealthy levels of stress can cause elevated blood pressure. Some people working from home cope with stress in unhealthy ways, such as binge eating, drinking, or smoking. Finding alternative stress-management methods that are healthy, such as physical activity, relaxation exercises, or meditation, can improve your health.

7.     Avoid sleep deprivation

The lack of quality sleep can cause more than just low energy; it can also be harmful to your health. People who don't get enough sleep are prone to obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.

Long-term sleep deprivation can increase your risk of heart failure, too. On average, adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night.

Make sleep a top priority in your daily routine. Set a sleep pattern and adhere to it every day by going to bed and waking up at the same time. Keeping your bedroom dark and quiet can also make getting a shuteye easier.

The Bottom Line

By taking action now, you can enjoy working from home while also looking after your heart. Working from home is a significant lifestyle change, and it may take some time to adjust. Check-in with your coworkers, friends, and family about how they are navigating the work-from-home setup and exchange tips on how to make the most of the situation. That way, everyone can be productive at work while also being happy and healthy!

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