Health data for African Americans isn’t at all great, but it should be put in front of people during Black History Month.
Black people have disproportionately high rates of health problems compared with whites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the top 10 causes of death for African Americans as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, unintentional injuries, kidney diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases, homicide, septicemia (preventing health care associated infections) and Alzheimer’s disease.
But the CDC also points out that African Americans are affected more by arthritis. That affects the quality of people’s lives particularly as they get older. The CDC notes that blacks are just as likely to be diagnosed with arthritis as whites are. However, African Americans are:
▪ 18 percent more likely to experience activity limitations because of arthritis.
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▪ 44 percent more likely to have arthritis-caused work limitations.
▪ 66 percent more likely to suffer severe joint pain because of arthritis.
But people can do a lot to manage the chronic disease. The CDC recommends:
▪ Two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. That’s 30 minutes a day for five days a week. It could include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, gardening, group exercise classes or dancing.
▪ Or an hour, 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. That’s 15 minutes a day for five days a week. This could include calisthenics, weight training or working with resistance bands. These can be done at home, in an exercise class or at a fitness center.
▪ Or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
People should add muscle strengthening exercises on two or more days a week. Don’t forget balance exercises on three days a week to reduce any risk of falling.
Balance exercises could include walking backward, standing on one foot and tai chi.