Exercise and Heart Disease
August 29th, 2019
Why Physical Activity at Work is a Must
Our daily routine has become more sedentary than ever before. At the office, we sit. At the computer, we sit. When watching TV, we continue to sit. This lifestyle that we constantly overlook is a ticking time bomb that will create ramifications for our future. Especially from an economic standpoint.
In 2013 alone, physical inactivity had cost international health-care systems around $53.8 billion dollars. Plus an extra $13.7 billion due to inactivity related deaths. Time and time again, heart disease has been the leading cause of death around the globe, and it’s all because we neglect our diet and avoid exercise.
Imagine an office worker who sits all day and has little to no physical activity in their routine. Their blood vessels are under constant compression due to the chair they sit in. Which, overtime, can create blood clots around the legs, increase risk of cancer and most importantly, heart disease. One study found that men who engaged in continuous sedentary behavior had a 64% greater risk of dying from heart disease. Yeah, that’s not good. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Sedentary behavior is easily fixable. What’s important is how consistent you are as well as your willingness to improve.
How Does Exercise Prevent Heart Disease?
Exercise does amazing things to our body. Some of the highlights include weight loss, increased energy and improved cognitive function. In terms of preventing heart disease, several positive effects occur.
Let’s start with blood. A healthy heart takes less than a minute to circulate blood to each cell of the body. With an unhealthy/inactive person, the cycle will take a bit longer. Incorporating cardiovascular and/or weight-lifting exercises can significantly improve blood circulation in the body. As a result, this reduces the risk of developing blood clots and blockages in your arteries.
Another way exercise prevents heart disease is by increasing HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol. HDL, also known as “good cholesterol,'' are particles found in the bloodstream that search and remove LDL (bad cholesterol) from the body. Eating foods such as beans, olive oil and whole grains can lower bad cholesterol and improve HDL. For exercise, moderate levels of both aerobic training and resistance training has been shown to increase HDL levels.
The risk of heart disease can also be heightened through stress. Stress from work, home and life events can all be harmful to your heart. Particularly with work stress. One study found that workers who were stressed had a 23% higher chance of experiencing a heart attack. Implementing a regular exercise routine and frequently moving at work can make you feel happier, less worried and relaxed during the day.
How Long Should You Exercise For?
Guidelines for physical activity change each decade depending on how healthy (or unhealthy) the population of a country is. Generally, most countries follow the regulations set by the WHO (World Health Organization). For adults between ages 18 and 64, these are the following guidelines for staying physically fit:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (cycling, walking, hiking etc.) per week
- Aerobic activities should be performed in 10 minute intervals
- Additional health benefits are gained when increasing physical activity to 300 minutes per week
- Two or more days a week for muscle-strengthening exercises is recommended
If you’re a beginner and just getting started, we recommend taking baby steps to avoid any potential injuries that can occur during your workout.
Ways to be Active at Work
Whether you work at a cubicle or a home office, there is always time to get active throughout your day. We know work-life balance can be difficult at times, here are some simple and convenient ways to help your body at work:
1. Take frequent breaks
This is often overlooked when workers have tight deadlines to meet. All you need is a phone with an alarm clock installed. The goal is to set an alarm every 30 minutes to an hour. This will let you know that it’s time to stand up and stretch your legs. You can take a walk, grab a coffee, or talk to a colleague at the other side of the office.
2. Stretch your body
When you feel lower back pain or experience a stiff neck, your body is trying to tell you to move. Stretching your body is a great way to relieve stress from your joints and muscles. For your legs, squats and lunges will get the blood flowing. Standing trunk extensions are excellent for eliminating lower-back pain. Lastly, overhead arm stretches will help reduce tension around the shoulders and arms.
3. Get a sit and stand desk
A sit and stand workstation can make a massive improvement to your body at the office. Not only can you stand whenever you want but you continue your work without any interruptions. Stretching is also much easier with a sit and stand workstation.