How can you prevent the despair from occurring in regards to your own health?
- Don’t smoke or if you do, stop smoking
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chronic Disease in Minority Populations (1994) report, “African Americans continue to suffer disproportionately from chronic and preventable disease compared to white Americans. Of the three leading causes of death in African Americans -- heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- smoking and other tobacco use are major contributors to these illnesses.”
If you need help to stop smoking, check with area organizations such as the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, area hospitals or call 211 to find out about smoking cessation programs or for further online information, check out this website.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly
According to the American Heart Association, “high blood pressure (hypertension) affects more than 40% of African Americans. High blood pressure develops earlier in life in blacks than whites and is usually more severe. The longer it is left untreated, the more serious its complications can become. High blood pressure is also a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure. Because high blood pressure is so serious, early detection and treatment are very important.”
If you have not had your blood pressure checked lately, contact your health care provider to have it checked. Many health care providers allow patients to come in for blood pressure checks without having to schedule an appointment. Otherwise, there are many organizations in the community that do free screenings. You can check with this website or call 211.
- Eat healthier
According to the Eat 5 to 9 A Day program, “Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of an active lifestyle can help lower the risk for all of these diseases. Yet, African Americans have the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption among all ethnic groups.”
- Be more physically active
American Heart Association states that in addition to helping control weight, physical activity helps to prevent heart disease, helps control cholesterol levels and diabetes, slows bone loss associated with advancing age, lowers the risk of certain cancers and helps to reduce anxiety and depression.
- Stairwalking for 15 Minutes
- Shoveling Snow for 15 Minutes
- Walking Two Miles in 30 Minutes (15 min/mile)
- Raking Leaves for 30 Minutes
- Pushing a Stroller 1.5 Miles in 30 Minutes
- Wheeling Self in Wheelchair 30-40 Minutes
- Gardening for 30-45 Minutes
- Washing Windows or Floors for 45-60 Minutes
- Washing and Waxing a Car for 45-60 Minutes
- Running 1.5 Miles in 15 Minutes (10 min/mile)
- Jumping Rope for 15 Minutes
- Bicycling Four Miles in 15 Minutes
- Basketball (Playing Game) for 15-20 Minutes
- Swimming Laps for 20 Minutes
- Water Aerobics for 30 Minutes
- Dancing Fast (Social) for 30 Minutes
- Basketball (Shooting Baskets) 30 Minutes
- Walking 1.75 Miles in 35 Minutes (20 min/mile)
- Playing Touch Football for 45 Minutes
- Playing Volleyball for 45-60 Minutes
EXAMPLES OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY THAT BURN APPROXIMATELY 15 CALORIES.
- Maintain a healthy weight
By improving eating habits and increasing activity level, you are on your way to a healthier weight. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), “to stay at a healthy weight, you need to balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. You can get to your healthy weight and stay there by doing two things: eating right and being physically active.”
For further resources on helping maintain a healthy weight or to get to one, check out the 211 website for further information on resources in the community to assist with that goal.
- Have regular medical check-ups
African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, American Indian and Alaska Native communities are disproportionately affected by the health gap.
Access to health care is important. By utilization of health services regularly, one can prolong and increase the quality of their lives by making changes that positively affect our health or by catching health issues or diseases in the early stages where early treatment will prevent poorer outcomes and additional health issues from occurring.
Each of us can make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others by making sure they visit a health care professional regularly. Don’t wait to see your doctor, nurse, dentist, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or other health provider.
Take A Love One for a Checkup Day, the third Tuesday of each September, has become a campaign in closing the health gap. Many national and local organizations aim to inform and educate communities of color about the health gap, empower individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles, and obtain access to health care.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recommends, “Always be sure you know everything about a medicine before you take it. This information will help you get the full benefits from your medicine. It will also help you avoid taking too much or too little of a medicine. Taking medicine in the wrong way can make you worse instead of better.” Tell your physician if you are taking or practice alternative or complimentary medicine, such as herbal teas, colonics, vitamin supplements, meditation, etc.
- Reduce stress
According to All About Black Health.com, “approximately 40% of all heart attacks are preceded by a psychologically stressful event. According to a recent study, stress management programs can reduce the risk of heart attack and other cardiac events by up to 70%.”
How can you reduce your stress?
a. Change your outlook – manage your reactions to events and people
b. Get support – find someone who will listen
d. Release the guilt – Mistakes happen, fix it if possible and let it go. Often others have forgotten
what we hold on to!
e. Breathe – Inhale deeply, exhale fully.
f. Ask for help – We can’t do it all.
g. Don’t worry about what we can’t control – focus on what we can control.
h. Listen to your body – Don’t ignore warning signs.
i. Use scents – Aromatherapy promotes relaxation
j. Get your sleep – Sleep allows our body to relax and repair.
- Learn CPR
The window between a heart stopping and medical personnel arriving can be the difference between life and death. Learn how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and give someone a chance at life by providing life saving techniques until medical personnel arrive. Call the American Heart Association today to sign up for a class at (616) 285-1888 or go to the American Heart Association’s website to find out about a class here.
- Become your own advocate
Increase your knowledge of your health risks and conditions so that you can make healthy choices for a healthier lifestyle. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to those you know who work in health care or connect with organizations in the community who can provide you with further information. Today’s doctors are struggling with managed care, increased patient loads and other regulations so they do not always cover everything that you may need. Therefore, you need to take an active role in being informed and healthier.