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4 tips to keep your heart healthy while working from home
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

4 tips to keep your heart healthy while working from home

The ways we work are changing. Workplaces are becoming more flexible, adapting their policies to accommodate staff who work flexible hours, people who are also carers, and those who are remote workers.

Unexpected events can also lead to shifts in the way we work, such as interruptions to public transport, extreme weather or potential disease outbreaks.

Working from home brings new challenges. You may need to work out how to use new technology tools, you might find it difficult to keep in touch with colleagues, or you may find that working from home brings interruptions.

Most challenging of all, working from home is a major change to your daily routine, and some of us don’t manage change well. When you work from home team meetings may be disrupted, it can become difficult to contact colleagues, and, you can’t grab a coffee together.

Working from home can also mean challenges to your heart health

Sure, the stress of your commute (driving or catching public transport) might be gone. Still, inconveniences may get in the way: technology may not work, you might need to use your personal computer or resources you need are still in the office.

There could be potentially negative impacts on your heart health that relate to working from home.

Your next thought may be: “How could working from home affect my heart health?

Consider this: what happens when your “commute” is reduced to just minutes? Instead of walking to the train station or bus stop, you are working from home.

At home, you will work from a home office, or maybe your computer is set up on the kitchen table. This means you won’t move around as much as you might at work: all your meetings will be over the phone or via meeting software; there’s no need to walk to the coffee shop; you’ll be less likely to take breaks; you possibly won’t take time to go for a walk.

At home, you might be more tempted to snack, or you might eat something quick and unhealthy for lunch, out of guilt over taking a lunchtime break. When you grab a small bite to eat, you might reach for chips, or make yourself an instant soup or nibble on some nuts: these snacks can be high in salt. The sodium in salt is bad for your heart. Eating too much sodium can raise your blood pressure over time, and this means you could be at higher risk of developing heart disease.

Here’s how to look after your heart health when you work from home

Stay active

Working from home is an opportunity to keep active. More than half of Australian adults don’t do enough exercise, and a lack of physical activity is a risk factor for developing heart disease.

Here are some ideas on how to keep moving while working from home:

  • If you have a dog, go for a walk twice a day; once in the morning before work, and then head out for a short, brisk walk at lunchtime or when you get “two-thirty-it is”
  • Do you have stairs at home? Take a break a few times a day, and walk up and down the stairs
  • Go for a quick run on a treadmill or ride your exercise bike to work up a sweat
  • When you finish a piece of work and want to take a break, crank up your smart speaker or headphones and dance to your favourite song. Don’t worry; your co-workers won’t see your dance moves!

Eat well

You might be tempted to raid the snack section of the pantry, or maybe you’re thinking, “The kids won’t notice if I snack on a few packets of chips!”.

Before you give in to these kinds of cravings, check out the Heart Foundation’s heart-healthy snack recipes. If you’re looking for some taste bud-tantalising ideas, try:

Healthy eating is an important part of looking after your heart. While you are working from home, follow these heart-healthy tips:

  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains: these foods are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Eating these foods is linked to having a lower risk of developing heart disease
  • Enjoy healthy proteins, including fish and seafood and legumes (such as beans and lentils)
  • You can also eat smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry
  • Enjoy unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. If you have high cholesterol, choose reduced-fat options
  • Snack on unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Instead of adding salt to your meal, boost flavours with spices and herbs
  • Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water

Take some time to learn more about your heart health

If you are saving time by not needing to commute, or you are looking for something productive to do when taking a break, take the chance to learn more about your heart health.

A great place to start is ourwebsite; we have a range of resources and information about:

If you would like to access one, easy to read resource, download our free e-book Protect Your Heart: 5 Simple Steps. The e-book covers:

  • Eating a heart healthy diet
  • Spending more time being active
  • Being smoke-free
  • Understanding and controlling your cholesterol levels
  • Understanding and controlling your blood pressure

Check in on your heart

If you are aged 35 – 75, you can discover more about your heart health by using the Heart Foundation’s Heart Age Calculator.

When you use the calculator, you will answer questions about your health and lifestyle; the calculator uses these answers to determine your “heart age” and, if your heart age is greater than your real age, you may be at higher risk for developing heart disease.

Once you have discovered your Heart Age, you can suggest that other people in your family, or even your friends, use it too.

Taking steps today can help you to enjoy working from home while looking after your heart.

Working from home is a big change, and it can take time to get used to the shift in your lifestyle. The chances are that your colleagues, friends or family might also work from home: check in with them and share tips to make the most of the experience. That way, you can stay productive at work, and happy and healthy while you’re at it!

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