February is Black History Month. It is also American Heart Month. So to honor both I’d like to share a few little things that we all can do to be good to our hearts. Heart disease, including stroke is the number one killer among all Americans but African-Americans are at greater risk than any other group.
As an African-American woman, I know that we have some cultural rituals that serve to keep us at risk for Obesity, Diabetes, and out of control cholesterol and blood pressure. We are also more likely not to have adequate healthcare to deal with problems when they arise.
So the fix will mean making changes to the types of food we feed our families, how we prepare those meals, and how we spend our free time. The American Heart Association www.heart.org , recommends the following preventative measures:
- Watch Your Weight
- Quit Smoking and stay away from Secondhand Smoke
- Control your Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
- Drink Alcohol in Moderation
- Get Active and Eat Healthy
- Manage Stress
I know its hard to make sweeping changes all at once and so I have a few suggestions that you can implement a little everyday.
The Little Things You Can Do Today
1. Visit your doctor or local health department and get Screening for Heart Disease.
2. Check out www.healthfinder.gov/prevention for tools you can use to help lessen any risk factors you may already have.
3. Make it a family affair: Let your family know that you’ll be making some changes to the foods you buy and how they are prepared. Also look for family activities sponsored by your local Parks and Recreation Dept. or YMCA that will get the entire family moving toward better health.
4. Invest in a pedometer: Your daily activities of living count towards your overall calorie expenditures. So count your steps throughout the day as you go about your daily routine and look for opportunities to add more steps each day. For helpful tips on how to reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day visit www.thewalkingsite.com/10000steps.
5. Go Natural! Consider wearing your hair natural until you have reached your goal weight because the cost of being unhealthy is far more than the cost of maintaining any hairstyle. Those of you who have high-powered jobs may opt for wearing wigs so that you can be free to sweat out your hair and still be presentable for board meetings.
6. Create a Stress Free Zone: If you can make your home your sanctuary great! But if not a room , a garden, or even your garage can be converted into a No Stress Zone. When you’re in that place all worries, cares, and drama are left behind. Be sure to outfit your space with flowers, scented candles, or whatever brings you calm and helps you feel at peace. Do whatever you have to do to guard your hiding place and let people know that negativity is not allowed in the Zone.
Until next week,
Nicole McLaughlin, PT
- 10 things every black woman should know about heart disease (thegrio.com)
- African Americans in Alabama Get Help to Fight Heart Disease and Stroke (prweb.com)
- Heart Disease and the Black Woman (tapcopim.com)