Heart At Work?

I love teaching people how to be healthy. I’m excited to go to work every day (I know, scary, huh?) Consequently, I can often spend a long day at work and not even think twice about it. Eleven hour days happen for me on a weekly basis; so the following research really caught my attention.

If you work 11 hours a day on average, your risk of developing heart disease will be 67% higher than those working 8 hour days.

Why? Here is my opinion. Simply put, when I work an 11 hour day (even though I love my work) my life and health (and that of my family) gets out of a balance. When I work too many long days in a row I am more likely to:

  1. Skip meals. People who skip breakfast have higher cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels greatly contribute to heart disease.
  2. Forget about exercise. People who don’t exercise not only weigh more than those who do exercise but they usually have a higher risk of heart disease. Also, exercise really helps keep your mood level-always a good thing.
  3. Have higher stress levels. When working longer hours, you will normally have higher stress levels. When you have high levels of stress hormones it can put your heart at risk. Also, people with high levels of stress hormones also have higher levels of belly fat. The more fat you have around your torso and heart, the more risk you have of developing heart disease.

 Here is how to add balance back into your life:

  1. Exercise when you get up. People who exercise first thing in the morning are 30% more likely to stick with their exercise routine. Lay your exercise clothes out the night before, have a plan, meet a friend at the gym, do whatever it takes to establish the habit of exercising early in the day. In the morning, fewer problems will arise to derail your exercise plan.
  2. Pick a night each week as your “early” night. One night a week, usually Monday, I leave work at 5pm.  I go home, cook an early dinner and watch a movie. I also get in bed earlier that night so I get additional sleep. The extra sleep keeps me motivated for the next few days.
  3. Pack snacks for the day. Be smart about packing food for your work week. Here are my 3 favorite snacks to always have in my purse:
  • Piece of fruit
  • Ounce of nuts, usually almonds.
  • Protein bar. ThinkThin bars are my favorite (available at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods)
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