Looking to Achieve a Heart-Healthy Workplace? Here’s What You Can Do.

/ By Cowan Insurance Group

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. In fact, up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through lifestyle choices, including adopting a nutritious diet, staying physically active, and living smoke-free.1

Understanding heart disease

As an employer, you can positively influence your employees’ well-being and reduce the risk of heart disease in the workplace using the following essential strategies that promote heart health.

Heart disease has many root causes and is defined as any condition that affects the structure and function of the heart. Heart disease includes coronary artery and vascular disease, heart rhythm disorders, structural heart disease, and heart failure.2

Encourage employees to adopt a heart-healthy diet

Diet plays a pivotal role in heart health. As a plan sponsor, consider promoting the following dietary habits among your employees.

  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. Encourage employees to consume a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables. Small changes like swapping sugary snacks for fresh fruit or incorporating more veggies into meals can make a difference. These provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that benefit the heart.
  • Choose whole grains foods. Opt for whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice over processed or refined grains. Whole grains are rich in fibre and nutrients.
  • Eat foods high in protein. Include legumes (such as lentils and beans) and nuts in your diet. These provide plant-based protein without the saturated fat found in some animal products.
  • Limit highly processed foods. Advise against overconsumption of highly processed foods like fast food, chips, and cookies. These often contain unhealthy fats, excess salt, and added sugars. Encourage employees to read labels and make informed choices.
  • Make water your drink of choice. Water supports overall health, aids digestion, and keeps the body hydrated without adding extra calories.3 Suggest herbal teas or black coffee when employees are craving a more flavourful beverage – these options provide antioxidants and can be enjoyed without worrying about added sugars.

Let our team of expert consultants help you customize your group benefits program.

Promote physical activity for cardiovascular health

Regular physical activity is crucial for cardiovascular health. Encourage employees to engage in the following.

  • Use stairs over the elevator. Encourage employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s a simple yet effective way to incorporate more movement into their daily routines.
  • Lunchtime yoga. Arrange yoga sessions during lunch breaks. Yoga not only improves flexibility but also helps reduce stress.
  • Walking meetings. Instead of confining discussions to conference rooms, consider holding walking meetings. Walking while discussing work matters encourages physical activity and stimulates creativity and productivity.

Small steps with a big impact

Stress impacts heart health. Consider incorporating these wellness initiatives into the workplace to lower stress.

  • Work-life balance. Promote work-life balance among employees. A balanced work-life schedule reduces stress levels and supports overall health.
  • Meditation sessions. Offer guided meditation sessions. Meditation helps manage stress, enhances focus, and contributes to overall well-being.
  • Healthy snack options. Stock the office snack cabinet or vending machine with heart-healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, and whole-grain crackers. Avoid sugary snacks like candy and chips, which can negatively impact heart health.
  • Smoking cessation programs. Implement programs that encourage employees to quit smoking. Smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease, so supporting employees in reducing tobacco consumption is crucial.
  • Educational campaigns. Regularly share heart health tips, facts, and resources with employees. Encourage them to prioritize regular checkups and screenings. Increased awareness leads to better lifestyle choices and improved heart health.
  • Wellness programs. Design wellness programs that actively promote physical activity. Consider organizing group fitness classes, walking challenges, or even providing incentives for employees who engage in regular exercise.
  • Nutritional guidance. Educate employees about heart-healthy eating habits. Workshops on nutrition, meal planning, and healthy cooking can contribute to better heart health.

Choose group benefits that promote heart health

As a plan sponsor, consider how group benefits you offer employees can support heart health.

  • Healthcare coverage. Ensure comprehensive coverage for preventive screenings, cholesterol management, and heart-related medications. Ensure your group benefits package covers essential preventive screenings related to heart health.
  • Offer on-site health screenings. Help employees understand their risk by testing blood pressure and cholesterol with on-site clinics.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Recognize that emotional well-being directly affects heart health. Offering an EAP that includes counselling, stress management resources, and therapist access can help employees cope with emotional stressors.

Small changes can significantly impact cardiovascular well-being, benefiting employees and the organization. By fostering a supportive environment and promoting healthy habits, you contribute to the long-term health of your workforce.

Contact a knowledgeable Cowan benefits consultant for personalized guidance on supporting your employees’ heart health.

Sources

  1. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (2024). What is heart disease? Retrieved from URL.
  2. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (2024). What is heart disease? Retrieved from URL.
  3. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. (2024). Healthy eating. Retrieved from URL.
 

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