How to Keep a Healthy Heart While Working from Home
The landscape of how we work and live has drastically changed, which in the past two years has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic – leading to interruptions of transportation, worldwide adoption of teleconferencing, and social distancing to curb fears of outbreaks. All these changes ushered in a new era of hybrid lifestyles of how we work and live.
More and more people seem to welcome this new and radical change. In the latest polls, American workers report that they prefer this type of work setup. Half of the respondents say that they currently work entirely in a location away from the office. 45% of respondents, who originally worked in an office, share that they prefer to work mostly or entirely from home. More workers also find themselves more productive when working from home, and even revealed that they work more hours remotely than at the office.
Based on popular opinion, working from home seems to provide a more well-rounded work-and-life balance – which could be key to employee satisfaction. Aside from being with their families and no stress from commuting, studies show people save more (close to $500 a month or $6,000 per year). With fewer cars on the road needing to commute to and from work, it is also good for the environment.
Besides the many stated benefits above, there are also several challenges that arise with this ‘new way of working.’ Challenges and issues include lack of socialization, decreased employer-employee monitoring, shouldering home office costs, distractions at home, and challenges in team collaboration.
How can working from home affect heart health?
Working from home may seem like a dream, but you can easily slip into the slippery slope of a sedentary lifestyle. The burden of finding social, emotional, and mental wellness is now made more pronounced to be the responsibility of the remote worker – most especially, one’s physical health and wellness, too.
Working remotely can result in a sedentary lifestyle. We no longer have opportunities to commute to work or to walk to the cafeteria. Increased isolation, changes in lifestyle, and most especially diet are some things worthy of note that may deteriorate one’s health. You have more ‘temptations’ within your reach, such as high sodium snacks, junk food, and chips that you can easily grab from your home pantry.
The sodium in salt is not suitable for your heart – eating too much can raise your blood pressure over time – and in turn, increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Working long hours can cause significant stress, which can greatly your risk of developing heart problems, diabetes, and hypertension.
The most important physical factor that remote workers must be mindful of is their cardiovascular health. So we ask a very important question: how do we make sure we remain well-rounded and healthy?
Tips on how to look after your health when working from home:
- Exercise regularly.
Stay active! Exercise is the first and most important step towards good heart health. The lack of physical activity increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, and helps your cardiovascular system work properly.
No excuses – even if you don’t have a gym membership or fancy gym equipment at home, you can still find ways to sweat by using what you have. Even getting up a few minutes a day between your desk breaks can already make a difference. Take up simple activities such as walking up and down the stairs, doing a quick run around your house, or simply rolling down your mat and doing a daily yoga affirmation at the start of your morning.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
Eating healthily should be a top priority! This is essential against many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Eating a variety of foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and consuming less salt, processed sugars, and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats. So ditch the junk, and consume whole foods.
- Develop a routine.
Even when work has become more flexible, it’s still a healthy practice to create and maintain a routine for your daily activities. We are creatures of habit – and so we find comfort in routines. Decide when to wake up, work, work out, eat, play, and sleep.
- Make time for self-care.
Make self-care a priority! Make sure to schedule positive habits that promote your well-being Put yourself first – and then, you can organize the rest of your day on things that we find important for our productivity, happiness, and feelings of fulfillment.
- Designate a space for work.
Dedicate a workspace for you to maximize your productivity. This space should allow you to focus mentally as you get into ‘work mode’, and minimize distractions as much as possible. The best workspace should have a well-lit desk, preferably natural light from a window. Having a workstation can create a division between work and life tasks while working from home.
- Actively seek healthy social interactions.
Studies show that social isolation and loneliness cause a higher risk to cardiovascular disease, and depression, just to name a few. It also works vice versa – if you are in poor health, you may be more likely to be socially isolated or lonely.
- Set accountability measures.
Just like in work, ‘What can’t be measured, can’t be managed.’ there is now a wealth of tools and resources to keep track of your physical activity. Smartphone apps, Fitbit, or smartwatches can help track and measure your daily activities. These wearable devices can also measure sleep and even cardiovascular activity.
- Discover the outdoors.
Get up, and get out, and step outside to discover the outdoors! They say ‘sitting is the new smoking,’ which could not be even more true. When people get the opportunity to go out and explore new places, they report higher satisfaction levels and lower stress levels.
Let’s not forget that the world outside the metaverse is a big and interesting place – outside our door, we get the chance to meet new and interesting people, see new places and try new things – versus just staying at home in front of a screen. At the same time, exploring outdoors is good for our heart and overall health.
Walking your dog, hiking in the nearby park, or just simply appreciating some fresh air outdoors is an excellent way to start your exercise. By taking proactive measures to work out, you can reduce the stress and anxiety that come with the modern lifestyle.
Take steps today to work on your health while working from home!
Working from home used to be a temporary fix to be able to work amidst the lockdowns, but it looks like it’s here to stay in the long run. This is a massive shift in our lifestyle, and it can get time to get used to. However, with more freedom in our hands on what to do with our time, it is now even more important to take conscious steps in taking care of our health – and that includes checking in on our heart health regularly.
We only have one heart, and taking good care of our health also means having a meaningful life ahead to spend more time with what matters to us – our friends and family, community, and our personal passion projects.