Even as businesses begin to reopen, many of us who work in offices are still doing our jobs remotely. The pressure of trying to balance our personal and professional lives, often now with children nearby to care for during working hours, is taking a toll on our well-being. And for those of us who have continued to commute to our workplaces throughout the pandemic, the regular stress of our jobs is only compounded by anxieties around COVID-19 and changing home responsibilities, like managing remote learning. Many of us are stressed to the point of burnout.
And while stress can be useful in the short-term to help get us through a challenging situation, such as giving a presentation or hitting a deadline, the American Heart Association (AHA) finds that constant work-related stress can put us at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.
The good news? Regular exercise reduces the harmful effects of stress – and it’s never too late to start moving.
Job stress and your heart
New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) finds that people who reported work-related stress were more likely to be hospitalized for peripheral artery disease.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries in your legs, blocking blood flow. Left untreated, PAD increases the likelihood of heart disease and stroke.
Researchers evaluated the records of 139,000 men and women, ages 39-49 on average, who took part in 11 studies conducted from 1985-2008. During the 13-year follow up, participants with job strain were 1.4 times as likely as those without work stressors to have been hospitalized for PAD.
“Our findings suggest that work-related stress may be a risk factor for peripheral artery disease in a similar way as it is for heart disease and stroke,” lead study author Katriina Heikkilä said.
Stress is associated with increased inflammation and higher blood sugar levels, which may lead to complications and worsening of PAD.
Get pumped about moving
Show your heart some love by moving more! Exercising can help improve heart health by lowering your blood pressure, boosting your levels of good cholesterol and improving blood flow. Whether walking or biking, moving even just a little can also help you think, feel and sleep better.
That’s why Kristin Kyle, Metro Atlanta American Heart Association Executive Director, wants you to take this piece of advice to heart: “It’s really important for people to be active. Humans were meant to move.”
The AHA recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week – that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can even break it up into blocks of at least 10 minutes throughout the week. Take a walk around the block or take a quick bike ride around the neighborhood!
“You would be surprised about how much those little things will add up to big differences,” Kyle said.
Remember, the goal of getting more exercise is to reduce the stress, not add to it. Here are 3 get-moving tips so you won’t miss a beat:
- Keep it simple! Wear comfortable clothing so you can move effortlessly from indoors to outdoors.
- Grab a buddy. Ask a co-worker or friend to be your virtual workout partner to keep each other accountable and motivated.
- Make a date of it! Put your activity time on the calendar and treat it like an important appointment.
Put your heart into Biketober!
The entire month of October, we’re biking our way to healthier hearts by participating in Biketober – and we’d love for you to join us!
Create a team with friends, family or co-workers – or ride solo. If you register before Oct. 1, 2020, you’ll be entered to win a $1,000 REI gift card. The prizes don’t end there. You can also participate throughout the month of October to be entered into drawings for restaurant vouchers, bike gear and more – including an ebike from Edison Bicycles!
For more information, check out: ATLBikeChallenge.com