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Helping your employees stay heart healthy

15 Feb 2021

Doctor and patient checking blood pressure

Did you know?

Cardiovascular disease (including heart, stroke and blood vessel disease) is the leading cause of death in New Zealand. With February being Heart Awareness Month, now’s a good time to spread the word in your workplace of the measures your team can take to support their heart health and lower their risk of heart disease. After all, keeping a healthy heart is a fundamental part of everyone’s wellbeing.

Make check-ups easy

Not everyone in your business will be seeing a health professional or getting health screenings regularly. Consider booking an appointment for the team at a local clinic or offering free check-ups on-site. It’s a great opportunity for staff to get a heart check as well as a general health check so they can stay on top of any potential health risk factors.

A heart check is designed to find out how likely an individual is to have a heart attack or stroke in the next five years. It also provides guidance on how to lower the risks of heart disease. By catching risk factors early, your employees can take the necessary steps to live longer and healthier lives.

There are other steps that can be taken to control the condition if you or any of your employees are at risk of or have a history of cardiovascular disease. Available to eligible nib members, the complimentary nib Healthier Heart programme provides personalised phone-based support regarding dietary intake, weight, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking. The programme is designed to help members understand and manage their cardiovascular conditions in order to reach their short and long-term health goals. For current nib members who would like to learn more, please email [email protected].

Eat and drink for a healthier heart

A well-balanced diet can support heart health and help prevent cardiovascular disease. If you offer any food or beverages for your employees, be sure to limit anything high in salt, sugar, saturated fat and trans fat, whether it’s catered lunches, dinners, events, vending machines or snacks. Consider low-alcohol or alcohol-free company functions as alcohol can affect our health in negative ways, from high blood pressure to unnecessary calories.

Motivate healthier eating among your team by providing a variety of heart-healthy foods for those on-site. Think fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and oily fish. Eating more heart-heathy foods can improve blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. To learn more about eating for a healthy heart, check out the Heart Foundation’s guide here.

Keep your employees moving

Being active has so many benefits, including preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Start a group that exercises during breaks or hold regular walking meetings. Create fitness challenges and reward employees for their participation. Some workplaces also have exercise equipment on-site or offer their employees discounted gym memberships.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is also important for prevention. Obesity is associated with cardiovascular diseases and many other serious health conditions. Be mindful of portion sizes where you can and encourage your organisation to get active.

Reduce workplace stress

Experiencing some level of stress is normal in a work environment – especially if there’s a lot going on in the workplace. But excessive levels of stress for long periods can be detrimental to your staff’s health and can increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes. It’s important to alleviate workplace stress by creating a positive work environment. Are your employees taking regular breaks when they should? Does your team get along? Are workloads reasonably and properly managed? These are all questions you should be mindful of in order to manage stress effectively in the office.

As with most health conditions, early prevention is the best method for reducing the risk of heart disease. So, continue promoting these initiatives regularly (beyond just the month of February) and ensure these are part of your wellbeing strategy throughout the year. These tips will help towards improving your employees’ health and wellbeing and have a long-lasting, positive impact.

If you’d like to speak to nib about the wellbeing of your team, give us a call on 0800 287 642 or email [email protected] – otherwise, you can find out more about our workplace wellbeing offer at

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