The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Prioritizing Heart Health

 

“Health is like money. We never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”

-Josh Billings, 19th century writer

We invest hours upon hours ensuring the health of our business and our finances, but in order to enjoy the fruits of our labor, we must also invest in ourselves.

There is no lack of research suggesting that regular exercise and a healthy diet lead to higher levels of productivity, increased motivation, elevated mood, and a longer lifespan. However, many entrepreneurs tend to get caught up in the myriad demands of business ownership and fail to prioritize their own health—particularly heart health.

“Heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions, but the most common is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and kills 400,000 people per year. Plaque buildup in the artery walls narrows the pathways responsible for carrying blood to the heart. This decreased blood flow causes a cardiac infarction or heart attack. According to the Center for Disease Control, someone in the United States has a heart attack every 40 seconds and each year 785,000 Americans suffer their first episode.

These numbers are startling, but luckily there are simple preventative steps that can be taken to improve heart health.

1) Get Moving
According the Dr. Joel Kahn, clinical professor of Cardiology at Wayne State University and author of Dead Execs Don’t Get Bonuses: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Your Career with a Healthy Heart, over twenty-two chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, dementia, and diabetes have been linked to how many hours a day you sit! Getting up and moving, periodically, throughout the day increases blood flow and oxygen absorption. Simple solutions include:

• Setting your alarm or smartwatch to remind you to get up and move around every 30 minutes
• Consider using a standing desk
• Stand up when taking phone calls
• Consider a brisk walk on your lunch break
• Exercise 30-40 minutes each day

Incorporating more movement into your day doesn’t have to be difficult or infringe on your daily tasks. Even small steps to get your blood pumping will be well worth your time.

2) Check Your Diet
Having a balanced diet chock-full of fruits and veggies will greatly reduce your risk of heart disease by (a) helping you maintain a healthy body weight and (b) reducing your chances of having high cholesterol. In fact, Kahn recommends fruits and veggies regularly occupy 50% of your plate.

It’s not always easy to meal prep and plan, especially if you’re frequently taking potential clients to eat out. But incorporating some of these small steps into your routine will make the transition easier:

• Cut back on processed foods. The more processed food we eat, the more our body craves them.
• Cut back on refined sugar. Much like with processed foods, our body can easily become sugar-dependent and lead to us craving more sweets.
• Instead of choosing a high-calorie condiment like mayonnaise or ranch dressing, opt for lower calorie mustard or olive oil.
• Budget your dietary intake. In the same way that monitoring our expenses keeps us on track to meet our financial goals, a food log helps increase awareness of our eating habits, making it easier to incorporate minor changes.

3) Get Plenty of Sleep (But Not Too Much)

Many entrepreneurs wear their long hours on their sleeve, insisting that sleeping is less important than finishing a project, answering emails, etc. However, your lack of sleep may actually hinder your ability to make sound business decisions during the day.

Just like with exercise, you must strike a healthy balance with sleep. More sleep isn’t necessarily a good thing, either. Sleeping too little or too much can be detrimental to your energy level and mental clarity. Running low on energy and feeling as if you’re “in a fog” will almost definitely decrease your productivity and decision-making skills at any given time.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, while adults over 65 may only need 7 to 8. However, the foundation also notes that you should monitor your own behavior to see what number works best for you.

Consider implementing some of the following suggestions into your routine for a better night’s sleep:

• Put yourself on a sleep schedule — even on the weekends
• Exercise daily
• Implement a relaxing bedtime ritual such as taking a bath
• Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow
• Turn off electronics before bed

If you’re really struggling, you can even take it a step further and try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for sleep. This helps you to better understand your personal sleep habits and unlock the ideal sleep hygiene for your particular optimal health.

Seeing it Through

Everyone has an arterial age. If you suspect that you have not been taking the best care of your heart health, consider having lab work done. Kahn recommends asking your physician to order an extended panel to specifically check your cardiological health. Sometimes this is the best incentive we can have to apply some heart-healthy changes to our daily lives.

After all the work you have put into your business, don’t you owe it to yourself to have the physical and mental fortitude to enjoy its continued success?

Investment Advisory Services offered through Resolute Wealth Advisor, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.