Tag Archives: Heart Health

5 Evidence-Based Benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs

Workplace Wellness

Great reasons to start a corporate wellness program

Corporate wellness programs are more popular today than ever before. In the late 1970s, a few major corporations kicked things off by launching fitness tracking programs that focused almost entirely on physical fitness. Since then, wellness programs have evolved into holistic programs that include mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Today, good wellness programs not only encourage physical activity and healthy eating (which are great ways to prevent heart disease), but they often include mindfulness workshops, lunchtime yoga sessions, tobacco cessation programs, weight loss competitions, healthy living seminars, and health screenings. Wellness programs are now standard components of many corporate — large, mid-sized, and small — benefits packages.

When well executed, wellness programs offer workers incentives, tools, social support, and simple strategies for adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors. Furthermore, research shows that promoting healthy habits to employees and encouraging healthy behaviors through on-site fitness centers or gym memberships, lunchtime wellness programming, health-centered competitions, bike-to-work incentives, and mindfulness seminars are effective ways  to benefit both employer and employee.

1. Healthy, Happy Employees Incur Lower Health Costs

Lower health costs are mutually beneficial for employer and employee alike. Some companies even pass a percentage of health cost savings along to the employees as an incentive or use the savings to keep employee health insurance costs down.

“In a case study of large companies, total medical spending at a company with an employee wellness program experienced slower growth in health costs than companies without a program. Employees saw meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors; and average annual savings per employee were $565 (in 2009 dollars), producing a return on investment equal to a range of approximately $2 to $4 saved per dollar spent on the program” (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion).

2. Wellness Programs Improve Productivity

There appears to be a strong link between physical activity and cognitive benefits like memory and focus. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who participated in a health promotion program and improved their health care or lifestyle regained an average of 10.3 hours in additional productivity annually and saved their companies an average of $353 per person per year in productivity costs compared to non-participants.

Evidence also indicates that instituting workplace health programs can reduce the average number of sick days taken, health plan costs, and workers’ compensation and disability insurance costs by approximately 25%.

3. Wellness Programs Improve Employee Engagement

In a Humana-sponsored report, the Economist Intelligence Unit found that wellness programs help bring employer and employee priorities and goals into alignment. In fact, 69% of those surveyed agreed that health and wellness programs are important to their organization’s culture.

“They [wellness programs] increase employee engagement with the company’s mission and goals. Employees are also more likely to see their own wellness as being linked with professional success. Companies that build a wellness culture thus acquire a workforce that is not only more focused and engaged, but that sees that culture as benefiting their careers.”

If that’s not enough, there’s also strong evidence to suggest that wellness programs can lead to improved employee retention and productivity.

4. Employee Wellness Programs May Decrease Depression

Wellness programs aren’t just for the body, they’re for the mind and spirit, too. Holistic wellness programs can help alleviate depression and the symptoms of depression, leading to higher rates of overall work/life satisfaction.

An article published by the National Institutes of Health revealed that those in the wellness study’s intervention group (as compared to those in the control group) were a whopping 63% more likely to show a decrease in their Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score.

Depression is the leading cause of presenteeism — poor employee performance — in the workplace. By decreasing BDI scores, employers can help their employees become happier and more productive.

5. Wellness Programs Inspire Healthy Behaviors and Reduce the Risk of Chronic Diseases

Making lasting changes to behaviors is challenging for many Americans, but workplace wellness programs can make a tremendous difference. Employers and employees can enjoy all the benefits that accompany healthy weight loss, including lower cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure levels, and more. Wellness programs can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest, and in as little as six weeks, health risks could decline dramatically leading to a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace.

Please contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362 to learn more about our AED packages and our first aid, CPR, and AED training courses — all important components of company wellness programming! We also welcome your email queries; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

How Cold Weather Affects Your Heart

Are you and your heart ready for the frigid depths of winter?

Cold Weather and SCA

Photo Courtesy: NBC News

Brrrrr! With great swaths of the country feeling the icy effects of January, now is the perfect time to make sure that you and your heart are staying warm this winter.

Winter can present its own special set of challenges and can be especially treacherous if you’re over 65, have already had a heart attack, or have been diagnosed with heart disease. Regardless of whether or not you have heart disease, though, taking care of your heart and body during bitterly cold months is a smart move.

Why is Winter So Hard on Your Heart?

Our bodies naturally react to cold environments by making certain physiological adjustments. Put another way, your body works harder when it’s cold. And that’s generally a good thing! The extra effort your body puts into staying warm protects your vital organs and helps maintain your core body temperature. However, while natural and necessary, these changes can be challenging — and perhaps even dangerous — for people with heart disease.

Heart Attacks are More Common in the Winter

Cold temperatures can cause your blood vessels to contract and your blood flow to speed up. In fact, that’s what helps keep you warm.

However, it may also cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. When this occurs, your heart is working significantly harder than it does under more temperate conditions. If you factor additional exertion like slogging through heavy snow or shoveling a snow-covered walkway into the equation, it could be a recipe for a heart attack.

“According to a study published in JAMA Cardiology in November, which analyzed information on about 274,000 people living in Sweden, the risk of having a heart attack was greatest on days when the temperature was below freezing. Another study, published in PLOS One in 2015, found up to a 31 percent increase in heart attacks in the coldest months of the year compared with the warmest” (Consumer Reports).

Risk of Stroke Increases in the Winter

If that’s not enough to make you head for the coat closet (or Florida), frosty temps can also increase the likelihood of blood clots which, in turn, increases the odds of suffering from a stroke or embolism.

Fortunately, many of the causes that are commonly believed to be behind the increased incidence of stroke during the colder months, whether infection, lack of sunlight, depression, or sedentary lifestyle, are preventable. Just remember to wash your hands, take your vitamin D, and get some exercise. If you think you may be suffering from depression, talk to your doctor!

Hypothermia Can Lead to Heart and Respiratory System Failure

When your body temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, things get pretty ugly pretty fast. When this happens, hypothermia sets in and your heart, circulatory system, nervous system, and other organs cannot function properly.

Left untreated, hypothermia can result in death.

Symptoms of moderate to severe hypothermia include:

  • Shivering
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness

How to Protect Yourself from the Cold

Now that we’ve established that winter is a bleak and frozen landscape dotted with danger and peril, it’s time to offer a few fail-safe recommendations for staying warm and protecting your heart.

Keep Your Home Cozy

If you haven’t conducted a home energy audit, now may be the time. Look for (and seal) obvious air leaks, upgrade your insulation, and inspect your furnace and ventilation systems to make sure you’re not wasting your warmth. Then, crank up your furnace to a toasty 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stay Active Indoors

If you’re staying indoors because it’s just too cold outdoors, be sure to stay active! Move around at least once every hour and avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. This gets the blood flowing and helps keep you warm.

Splurge on Some Tasty Tea

Go ahead and indulge a little. Just be smart about it! We recommend warm, wholesome meals and a nice cup of flavonoid-rich black or green tea.

“Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress. There’s also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels” (Harvard Health Publishing).

Layer Up!

Not only is it like giving yourself a nice, warm hug, but wearing a number of thin layers can keep you warmer than one thick layer. Thin layers trap air and create a natural insulation barrier. And if you’ve never been called a hot head, we’re happy to do the honors. You can lose a ton of heat from your head, so don’t forget to don that stocking cap!

Shovel Smart

If you’re heading outside to clear a pathway, err on the side of caution. Let someone know what you’re up to so they can keep an eye on you, give yourself plenty of breaks, use an ergonomic snow shovel or snow pusher, avoid alcohol (which can make your body think it’s warm when it’s not), and above all else, listen to your body!


For more information about AEDs, CPR training, or First Aid certification, contact contact Cardio Partners at 866-349-4362. We also welcome your emails; you can reach us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post

5 Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease

Protect Your Heart with These Heart-Healthy Tips

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. In 2017, approximately 630,000 Americans died from heart disease — that’s nearly 1 in every 4 deaths (Medical News Today). In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds! As advocates for CPR and AED training, heart health, and the prevention of sudden cardiac death, we find these statistics incredibly grim.

While you can’t control certain risk factors such as your age, family history, gender, race, or ethnicity, there are plenty of ways you can lead a heart-healthy lifestyle…and that’s what we’ll be focusing on this week.

5 Practical Ways You Can Prevent Heart Disease

#1 — Eat More Fiber (and Less Saturated Fat)

The iconic “Got Milk?” advertising campaign, which turned 25 this year, made drinking milk look downright sexy. But just because the decades-old campaign has decidedly more star power and cache than “Got Fiber?” or “Got Broccoli?” could ever hope for, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good ideas.

The American Heart Association recommends having a few meals without meat each week. By reducing your meat intake and upping your consumption of fruit, veggies, legumes, and whole grains, you’ll dramatically increase the amount of fiber in your diet while simultaneously reducing the number of saturated fats you ingest. It’s a win-win!

Yes, we realize that Thanksgiving is on the horizon and visions of turkey and cornbread and sausage stuffing are peppering your dreams. But we’re going to say that eating vegetarian meals (or, at the very least, meals with less meat) may help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. (You’ll find that it’s easier on your grocery bill, too!)

If the notion of walking an entirely vegetarian path is too daunting, start by incorporating a meal or two a week in which meat plays a supporting role. Then, gradually work up to a few full-on vegetarian options. While the internet is a great place to start your journey towards a healthier menu, finding well-written and reliable recipes can be a challenge. We recommend visiting your local library and checking out a few titles. A few of our favorite veg-heavy and family-friendly cookbooks (translation: great for busy weeknights) include Ottolenghi Simple, Milk Street: Tuesday Nights, and A Modern Way to Cook.

#2 — Watch Your Weight

A few weeks ago we wrote about the relationship between obesity and sudden cardiac death in young people, but being overweight is a key risk factor for heart disease for people of all ages. Which is especially troubling, considering that 72% of Americans are either overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control). Obesity can put you at risk for a myriad of health problems related to heart disease such as stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. If you’re worried about your weight, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor or to contact a nutritionist to develop a plan of action.

Losing weight can be daunting, but here’s the good news: there’s scientific evidence that losing just 5% of your body weight can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, decrease your risk of diabetes, help pave the way for a better night’s sleep, and reduce inflammation (Obesity Action Coalition).

#3 — Make a Promise to Yourself to Exercise More

New Federal physical activity guidelines released on earlier this week recommend that adults “…complete at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, along with strength training twice a week. They also suggest balance training for older people and, for the first time, urge kids between the ages of 3 and 5 to be active for at least three hours a day, an acknowledgment that even small children run the risk of being too sedentary these days” (New York Times).

Staying active and fit can lower your blood pressure, help you lose or maintain your weight, lower your cholesterol, help control your blood sugar, and reduce your stress levels.

Okay, we all know why exercise is good for us, but only 1 in 5 adults and teens get enough exercise. Yikes!

If you’re sedentary, start by simply getting up more frequently and moving around. Invest in a pedometer, Fitbit, or step-counting app to help you achieve your fitness goals. Soon, you’ll find yourself taking the stairs, rather than the elevator and parking as far away from the entrance as possible. Every step counts, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly they add up!

Once you’ve hit your 10,000 steps-per-day goal, set your sites on some cardio and weight training. Make exercising social by going to a class at the gym or by enlisting a friend to work out or walk with you. If you’re the solitary sort, go for a meditative walk or run. Either way, be consistent but be willing cut yourself some slack; if there are days when fitting in 30 minutes of exercise seems impossible, try to fit in a few 10-minute exercise breaks throughout the day.

You may want to speak with your physician before starting an exercise program.

#4 — Read Labels

Who knew that reading was such a great strategy for preventing heart disease?! Following a heart-healthy diet means keeping a close eye on your sodium, sugar, and fat intake, since these are tied to heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. What better way to watch what you eat than to read the fine print?

Generally speaking, pre-packaged foods aren’t as healthy as meals and snacks that are prepared fresh from whole ingredients. While you’re paying attention to calories, fats, sodium, and sugar, be sure to keep an eye on serving sizes! Hint: beverages can be a surprising source of sugar and sodium. Eliminating soda, energy drinks, supermarket smoothies, and juices can do wonders for your daily calorie intake.

#5 — Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Poor sleep is tied to a number of risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and sleep apnea. For many, getting a good night’s sleep (that’s 7-9 hours for adults) is harder than it sounds. Invest in a white noise machine, avoid afternoon coffee runs and evening chocolate binges, turn off the TV, go to sleep at the same time every night, and avoid alcohol before bedtime.

Ready to promote heart-healthy choices and cardiac awareness at your workplace? Contact us to learn more about our blended or traditional CPR and First Aid training courses. Call our team at 866-349-4362 or email us at customerservice@cardiopartners.com.

 

Use Facebook to Comment on this Post