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Six ways you can encourage healthy hearts in the workplace

Cheryl Lythgoe, Head Matron - Benenden Health.

As we’re set to spend around 90,000 hours at work over the course of our lives, the workplace is the perfect environment for employees to adopt healthy heart habits.

It’s important to understand that some heart issues such as stress, poor diet and physical inactivity can be influenced by our lifestyle others can’t be. Age, gender, ethnicity and family history are all examples of non-modifiable factors that are unavoidable and can’t be changed.

Here are six easy ways you can begin to promote healthier hearts within your organisation.

1. Get people moving!

Whether it’s through a cycle/walk to work incentive scheme, a lunchtime running club or the introduction of ‘walking meetings’, encourage your employees to get up and move. Not only will this keep them feeling fit, motivated and energised but studies show that walking can also increase creative output by 60%.

2. Promote a culture of healthy snacking

With fewer than a third of adults managing to eat their recommended five-a-day, providing a variety of fresh fruit, herbal tea and healthy vending machine alternatives will encourage employees to reach for that banana instead of the biscuit tin.

Running healthy ‘Eat & Learn’ breakfasts and lunches in the workplace is also a great way of promoting a culture of healthy eating. Someone from the business could give a presentation on what work they have done this month, while the office eats a healthy buffet provided by the company.

3. Offer flexible working

Giving employees the option to work remotely and flexibly allows them to manage their time and workload more effectively which can help to reduce stress. This may be particularly useful for an employee living with a cardiovascular condition, who is required to attend regular health appointments. Also, check out our article on how to help manage employee workload stress.

4. Go alcohol-free

Regularly drinking too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, which over time can put a strain on the heart muscle, increasing our risk of heart problems. Help to minimise this risk by opting for alcohol-free, activity-based work socials. As well as boosting employee engagement, happiness and health, they will also prove more inclusive of all team members. Stuck for ideas? Why not take a look at some of our suggestions on throwing your own alcohol free socials.

5. Educate and lead by example

Providing relevant tools and materials will give your employees the opportunity to learn about heart health for themselves. Simple things such as a morning ‘health tip of the day’ email or a handy checklist on how to lower your heart age can really make an impact.

6. Care for your employees with a supportive health and wellbeing strategy

Research conducted in 2019 found that as many as 85% of SMEs don’t have a healthcare package in place for their employees above statutory allowances, yet 50% of employee respondents believe a strong health and wellbeing package would increase their likelihood to join and stay with a business. This shows how important it is to review your wellbeing offering and how it caters to your workforce, to see if any improvements could be made to meet their needs.

One simple thing a business can offer is an annual mini health check for employees. This can allow workers to monitor their blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels and make any necessary changes to their lifestyle.

Regular checks allow for a healthier and happier workforce, and as such, can be a really cost-effective measure for businesses to take.

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