Helping Your Employees Stay Heart Healthy
Keeping your heart healthy is a key ingredient to wellness. As more companies are realizing the importance of investing in employee health, many of them are helping employees adopt more heart-healthy habits. February, which is American Heart Month, is a great time to spread awareness in the workplace of the steps needed to lower risk factors for heart disease, but don’t stop with just a month’s worth of activities. Be sure to continue your company’s heart health initiatives throughout the year to have a true impact on your employees’ health.
Whether you’re just starting an employee health and wellness program or you want to expand current efforts, here are initiatives that can promote heart health for employees of all ages in any industry.
Provide Healthy Workplace Snacks and Food
Research has shown a heart-healthy diet can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Evaluate any food your company provides, including vending machines, break room snacks, or catered lunches and events. Try to reduce salt, sugar, and saturated fats which can contribute to heart disease.
Packages of almonds, granola bars, sunflower seeds, and low-fat popcorn are good pre-packaged snack choices. Consider fresh fruits and vegetables for breakrooms. If you’re catering special meals, consider grilled chicken, green salads, or subs on whole-grain bread instead of pizza or higher-calorie sandwiches with fries.
You can also find videos, infographics, and recipes on the Healthy Eating section of the American Heart Association website.
Make Annual Physicals Easy
Many of your team members may not get regular checkups. The indicators of possible heart disease can often be detected in routine screenings, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. An annual check of these factors can help at-risk employees prevent heart disease or catch heart disease early in order to get treatment that can prevent progression or complications.
Try one of these two solutions to encourage regular screenings.
- Offer free annual screenings onsite or at a nearby health clinic. Be sure you have a process in place to help employees follow up with a doctor about any results that indicate a possible problem.
- Provide incentives to employees for getting an annual physical. Incentives can range from a discount on health insurance premiums to free fitness gear or an extra paid day off.
Promote Exercise Inside and Outside of Work
One of the most cost-effective ways to get employees moving during the workday is to offer organized walking groups that can exercise during breaks or create challenges to see which groups or individuals can get in the most steps during a designated period of time. You can also promote using the stairs instead of an elevator with reminder signs at elevators and fun or inspirational posters placed in stairwells.
While large companies may be able to find space for an on-site gym, smaller organizations can consider offering discounted memberships at local gyms. Some companies have had success bringing in professionals to conduct exercise classes during the workday in vacant meeting rooms or lounge areas.
Give Employees Resources to Reduce Stress
High levels of stress increase the risk of coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. You can actively help employees learn how to manage stress with some of these services:
- Workplace classes such as meditation or yoga provide an option that employees may not otherwise try on their own.
- On-site massages can help reduce stress as well as improve muscle aches that may result from standing or sitting all day.
- Free or reduced-cost counseling programs for employees can help team members manage both work and personal stressors.
Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness helps companies implement these types of programs, and has recently helped Weaver Investments start a yoga offering, and provides ongoing chair massage to employees at Sandvik.
Hold Heart Health Educational Events
Help employees learn about heart-healthy lifestyles with educational events. Dietitians, exercise professionals, nurses, and others can teach engaging classes that cover a complete range of topics, including nutrition, exercise and movement, stress reduction, stopping smoking, and more. These events don’t have to be limited to heart health month. They can be offered throughout the year.
Offer Smoking Cessation Programs
Smoking cigarettes has been shown to damage the lining of arteries, causing a buildup of fatty material called atherosclerosis that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Consider offering a smoking cessation program at work. Some medical centers offer employee and occupational health programs that include research-based smoking cessation programs.
Get Employee Wellness Services from an Experienced Team
The Cone Health Employee Health & Wellness team has been helping companies across the Triad stay heart healthy for more than 20 years. Doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and other specially trained occupational health professionals offer a comprehensive range of employee health initiatives through three clinics and onsite services. Learn how we can help your company by contacting Jacqueline Heyward at Jacqueline.firstname.lastname@example.org or 336.832.7315.