Is work breaking your heart?

Heartbreak, broken heart - these are the words we usually associate with romantic disasters. But what about real broken hearts; hearts that just aren’t cared for?

Most people spend about eight hours a day at work, or even more – that’s a pretty big part of your week.

Make sure that work doesn’t break your heart by answering these simple questions:

  • Do you drink more than five cups of coffee in an average work day? Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, releases free fatty acids from adipose (fatty) tissue and can lead to dehydration.
  • Are you a type A personality (e.g. you are always in a hurry, impatient, often irritated, angry or hostile, and strive for perfection)? Studies found that 50% of men who were Type A were nearly twice as likely to have heart disease as men who were not Type A.
  • Are you inactive (e.g. sitting at your desk) for most of your work day? People who sit for most of their day are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack.
  • Do you eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day? Lack of exercise and poor diet are key factors that are leading to South Africa’s increasing burden of diseases such as coronary artery disease and diabetes.

If you answered "yes" to at least one of these it means that your heart could be at risk. And you’re not alone: a recent study carried out at the University of Cape Town (UCT) revealed almost 70% of South African employees considered themselves to be inactive. Furthermore, 62% were either overweight or obese and 71% consumed less than the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.

Follow these heart-smart tips at work:

  • What about starting some fun activities to get the office moving? A walking challenge, where employees wear a pedometer to count their steps can be a great way to get a little competition going – perhaps you can walk the width of South Africa, or climb Kilimanjaro!
  • Suggest that your employer hosts a wellness day to motivate employees to improve their health and lifestyle, increase awareness of their current health status, or educate them on health issues.
  • Start a weekly "fruit day", where employees bring and share fruit.
  • If you have a canteen, suggest that they provide healthy options every day.
  • Find time to de-stress after work or during the weekend. Try a relaxing massage, a long walk or a session at the gym.

Even if you pick just one of these ideas and implement it today, that’s a step in the right direction.

For more free heart-smart nutritional advice from a registered dietician, call the Heart and Stroke Health Line on 0860 1 43278 (0860 1 HEART), e-mail or visit

(Heart and Stroke Foundation SA, July 2012 newsletter)

- (Health24, July 2012)

Read more:

 De-stress your heart
16 tips to manage stress

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