Just glossing over the health news this year, we have seen a lot of stories that focus on poor health in the African-American community: disproportionate rates of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, HIV/AIDS, STDs and cancers; smaller life spans and higher rates of death; higher likelihood of living in areas with little access to healthier foods; and a serious lack of access to quality health care and insurance — to name a few.
For those of you who are thinking about your health now, I know that this news can be depressing and make you feel like poor health is your destiny. But that doesn't have to be our truth. We can control our health destiny; it takes effort and persistence on our end.
And for those who are not concerned with your own health, because you are young and may not see any signs of any immediate health problems, please keep in mind that it doesn't mean that you are as healthy as you should be. A lifestyle of sedentary living will catch up to you, and it's important to keep in mind that there has been a serious increase of younger African-Americans who suffer from more grown folks' ailments such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
Now is the time to take control of your health, instead of waiting until your 40s.
For 2012, I urge you all to be healthier, take charge and learn more about health with the following resolutions:
• Know your numbers: You can't gauge your health if you don't know where you stand. A physical exam will reveal your blood sugar levels, cholesterol, triglycerides, Vitamin D levels, HIV status, etc. This is all crucial information you need to have in order to know how to proceed forward with your health habits.
• Meditate: Look, stress can kill you and increase your risk of developing other illnesses. Studies show that meditating every day for just 10 minutes can have some serious health benefits such as lowering your blood sugar and de-stressing you. So, find a quiet space in your house, sit and clear your thoughts.
• Get moving and start lifting: This is a "no-duh." You have to work out and strength-train if you want to live longer and have a higher quality of life. Take a Zumba class, run on the treadmill, walk around your house, do an On-Demand workout class — whatever you do, just do something 3-5 days a week, every week. Your waistline will thank you, as will your heart.
• Say no to soda: I know that cola and sugary drinks taste good, but the reality is that they’re one of the reasons why obesity is such a serious issue in our community. So try to reduce the amount of soda that you are drinking per week and opt for good old water and unsweetened ice tea.
• Get more sleep: Studies show that Blacks get less sleep than Americans of other races and ethnicities, and our health pays the price for it. You should shoot for eight hours of sleep every day.
So when the clock hits midnight on New Year's, raise that glass for a year of better health!
BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world.
(Photo: Grand Rapids Press/Landov)