Heart-healthy Thanksgiving tips for the dining room and the job site

A balanced diet includes sensible portions of the five primary food groups.

A balanced diet includes sensible portions of the five primary food groups.

Loyal readers of this blog know it as a forum for our workers’ compensation pros to share tips on fighting fraud, managing claims and preventing workplace accidents. So what’s with the turkey day tips?

It turns out there is a symbiotic relationship between worker wellness and safety. Healthy workers suffer fewer injuries. When they do get injured, they recover and return to work sooner.

With that in mind, we’re sharing this list of heart-healthy tips from our partners at the American Heart Association (AHA). If you follow the AHA’s advice, you just might emerge from the holiday season heart-healthy and guilt-free. As a bonus, you’ll also be better prepared to navigate on-the-job hazards. (This is a workers’ comp blog, after all.)

Try healthy substitutes
Safety professionals often lean on a strategy called substitution to control workplace hazards. In simple terms, you substitute a hazardous chemical, process or piece of equipment for a safer alternative. For example, you might substitute lead-based paint for acrylic-based paint.

You can apply the same principle, sans paint, to your holiday recipes.

Consider satisfying your sweet tooth by swapping chocolate chips with dried fruit. Instead of whole milk or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or fat-free/skim milk.

Prepare vegetables, eat a balanced meal
Any well-planned building project starts with a firm foundation. In the safety world, we recommend five core elements for building a solid safety program. When it comes to heart health, the experts at the AHA recommend you build your Thanksgiving plate on a solid bed of vegetables. You’ll get the nutrients you need, and you’ll be less likely to overload on the foods your body needs less of.

Increase physical activity
In a previous post, we explained how functional fitness prepares industrial athletes for the rigors of a long work day. A little physical activity can go also a long way toward keeping your heart strong. Instead of plopping down in a lounge chair after a heavy holiday meal, take a walk or spearhead an old-fashioned game of touch football.*

Keep stress to a minimum
Stress compromises your concentration, a lack of concentration can get you injured on the job. Whether you’re working on top of a skyscraper or taking the stairs at the office, one misstep can have serious consequences. Stress also increases your heart rate, constricts your blood vessels and raises your blood pressure. You can manage your holiday stress by planning your schedule to use your time efficiently, focusing on one thing at a time and taking time to relax.

Get enough sleep
Tired workers are more likely to make mistakes that can result in serious or fatal injuries. In fact, traffic accidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, and fatigue is too often to blame. Poor sleep quality is also linked to high blood pressure, according to the AHA. It can be difficult to get the recommended six to eight hours of sleep each night during the holidays, so get to bed early and give yourself time to wind down.

Free download
Eating heart-healthy, especially during the holidays, can be difficult. The AHA makes it a little easier with this free Holiday Health Eating Guide. Download it now for healthy versions of your favorite holiday fare.

*Remember to consult your physician before you launch an exercise program.

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