In America, every February we celebrate Black History Month and Heart Month. But let’s be clear from the top – celebrating Black stories and preventing heart disease should be an everyday to-do!
Throughout history, Black people have contributed greatly to medical and public health advancements that have impacted the entire world. Starting with the First Dynasty of Egypt involving the mummification process to the 1890s when Dr. Daniel Hale Williams opened the first black-owned hospital in America and performed one of the first documented heart surgeries. Most recently, Dr. Rheeda Walker’s, “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health” addresses how racism and socioeconomic factors over decades has impacted mental health and provides evidence-based solutions.
Despite these milestones, history has shown us that Black people have been subject to systemic racism that has led to significant disparities in our access to healthcare and optimal health outcomes—including those related to heart health. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the US. The American Heart Association reports that from 2015 to 2018, 58.8% of Black females and 60.1% of Black males had some form of cardiovascular disease.
So how can you lower your risk for heart disease and improve heart health?
#1 Start small and build in the following areas:
Aerobic: Aim for 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity 5 days/week. This can be broken down into 10 minute bouts such as going on a 10 minute walk three times a day OR an in-home circuit of walking up and down yours stairs, jogging in place, jumping jacks, and butt kicks.
Strength Training: Aim for 2 or more days of full body routines. This could be a bodyweight circuit of push-ups, crunches, back extensions, dips and lunges. Perform 3 sets X 20 reps with a 60 rest between sets.
Aim for nutrient-rich foods such as fruit, nuts, vegetables and lean protein during the day. Limit your fried food and fast food intake.
Know Your Numbers
Work closely with your physician to know your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and hormone levels. This information can help determine the risk level for certain chronic diseases.
#2 Work with a professional or join an online support group.
Join a group such as WW (S/O Oprah!) or work with a coach to help create an enjoyable and accountable program of SMART Goals with weekly online check-ins. For example, if you're just starting on a weight loss journey to improve heart health, you and your coach could agree that over the next 8-weeks, you will walk for 30 minutes 5 days a week, drink 8 cups of water a day and meditate for 5 minutes each morning.
Weekly online check-ins encourage on going feedback and goal management.
If you have any questions feel free to reach out. Stay tuned!