Five heart health watch-outs for small-business leaders

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After a gruelling year in business, it is evident that health and wellbeing should be at the forefront of everyone’s agenda, personally and professionally. However, not all business leaders have been able to slow down at this time, and eventually, those long hours will take their toll on their mental and physical wellbeing.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness (AIHW) report, coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading single cause of disease burden in Australia. With the EOFY coinciding, we are reminded that our health is as important as the health of our business. It is thus particularly important that we are equipped with the right information to ensure we are looking after our hearts as much as we are our businesses.

Here are five ways to keep your heart healthy:

1. Manage your stress

If you have a demanding job, which may in fact include most small business owners, it is in your best interest to take measures to manage stress and prevent the heart risks your work is causing. Business leaders can sometimes write off the effects that stress and anxiety can have on their health, but the truth is emotional health should be taken seriously – just as seriously as our physical health. Stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can impact your blood pressure and heart rate. As small business owners and leaders, stress can be written off as a professional necessity or an outcome for a thriving business but that should not be the norm. Health is both a mental and physical journey, and the two need to coexist.

2. Spend time with friends and family

Research has shown that people who maintain healthy friendship networks throughout life have a lower risk of heart disease. Make time to relax and spend time with your loved ones, be it leaving the office half an hour early on Fridays to make it home in time for dinner or scheduling non-negotiable drinks with your friends once a month. Reduced stress and anxiety as a result of these small adjustments to your schedule plays a significant role in these findings, not to mention the vital happiness chemicals – serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, released as a consequence of love and bonding.

3. Maintain a healthy cholesterol level

You’ve probably heard about Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10), a naturally occurring antioxidant in your body, but you may not have heard of Ubiquinol, the active (more easily absorbed) form of CoQ10, responsible for providing your cells with energy. Ubiquinol has been shown to assist in maintaining healthy levels of LDL cholesterol.

4. Exercise regularly

A lack of physical activity is a major risk for heart disease. Exercise has incredible benefits not only for your weight and mental health but specifically for your heart. Cardio exercises in particular can lower blood pressure and strengthen your heart, as you slowly increase your cardiovascular endurance. Find something you enjoy and just aim to move and increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes, every day if possible.

5. Eat omegas, healthy fats and turmeric

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, and additionally, reduce inflammation in the body, particularly around the joints. Load up your plate with salmon, walnuts and oils rich in essential fatty acids like flaxseed and hemp. Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory effects and many experts believe it can be extremely effective in assisting the reduction of inflammation in the joints. One Japanese study found that curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its distinct yellow colour, significantly improved cardiac health over a three-week period and reduced inflammatory lesions in the heart area.

Speak to your healthcare practitioner to find out which supplement is right for you. Always read the label and use it only as directed. Never stop taking prescribed medication for any supplementation.