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Making Workplaces More Active Helps Workers' Hearts

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More than 80 percent of Americans aren't getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week. (MilitaryHealth/Flickr)
More than 80 percent of Americans aren't getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week. (MilitaryHealth/Flickr)
August 7, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakotans are sitting on a largely untapped resource for better heart health – their workplace habits.

More than 80 percent of Americans don't get the 150 minutes of physical activity they need each week to maintain a healthy heart, a number recommended by the American Heart Association.

Joan Enderle, team lead for the ANCHOR partnership program of the American Heart Association of North Dakota, says a person's environment influences his or her activities, and that there are lots of habits anyone can change to squeeze more activity into the workday.

"Even if you're glued to the phone for work calls or conference calls, you don't have to be glued to your seat,” she points out. “Make a habit to talk and walk. I wear a headset so that I can walk in place while I'm on conference calls."

Enderle says people can break up the 150 minutes of weekly activity into 10 or 15-minute segments by taking a walk around the building during breaks or lunch time. She also suggests having walking meetings, and says walking outdoors has been proven to boost creativity.

Exercise also is unlikely to distract employees or slow down their performance.

A study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found exercise did not affect the performance of people who did low-intensity walking while working, and the researchers concluded an active workplace is "an effective way to reduce the public health threat of sedentary behavior."

Enderle says she's found the same thing at workplaces around North Dakota.

"People who take breaks throughout the day and increase physical activity actually are more productive, and come back to their desk refreshed and ready to go, and more productive than just sitting at their desk," she states.

The American Heart Association has workplace health tips at heart.org.



Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND