February is both American Heart Month and African-American History Month.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans. But African-Americans face even more risk for it--along with stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Stress associated with poor health habits adds to that, the American Heart Association says.
Exercise and diet are key to battling those troubling statistics, beginning with weight management.
“Obesity and fitness are very important to all races and genders," Dr. Carl J. Lavie told WebMD. "But in African-Americans, we need even greater attention not only to reducing weight, but in improving fitness. The two go together but are separate, too."
Some experts say the problem stems from socio-economic factors. Those can include schools that don’t provide much physical education and nutrition, a lack of access to fitness facilities, and a fear of safety while exercising outdoors.
The Department of Health and Human Services provides health tips for African-Americansthat include useful information about obesity and diet.
To lose weight and keep it off, aim for 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. This means things like walking briskly or gardening. Then, when you’re able, add running or aerobic dancing. And include some form of resistance training at least twice a week to keep your muscles strong.
Community support is helpful, too. Please talk to us about any concerns, and we will help you get (or stay) on the right track.