As we continue our February focus on American Heart Month, we note many tips for maintaining health heart status that also can be part of a well-run workplace wellness program.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the serious statistics: “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. While Americans of all backgrounds can be at risk for heart disease, African American men, especially those who live in the southeast region of the United States, are at the highest risk for heart disease. Additionally, more than 40 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.”
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
One key tactic is not only to set goals, but to understand how to set goals. The CDC advises:
- Set goals that matter to you and are realistic
- Set short-term goals (example: what you can do this week, this month)
- Set long-term goals (example: what you want to have accomplished by next year)
- Write down your goals, review them with your healthcare professional and make changes to them over time
The CDC advises other specific steps, some of which can be integrated into a workplace wellness plan that helps encourage individual and collective action. These include:
- Add exercise to your daily routine. Start off the month by walking 15 minutes, 3 times each week. By mid-month, increase your time to 30 minutes, 3 times each week.
- Increase healthy eating. Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least 3 times each week and make your favorite recipe lower sodium. For example, swap out salt for fresh or dried herbs and spices.
- Take steps to quit smoking. If you currently smoke, quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Use website .
- Take medication as prescribed.
These tactics can be challenging not only to implement, but also to maintain. This is where a well-designed workplace wellness program can come into play.
As the CDC notes: “Change can be difficult and having specific goals can help you stay on track and motivate you to make important lifestyle changes. Remember to talk to your healthcare professionals about your goals.”