JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – February is American Heart Month. The CDC says one person dies every 36 seconds in the States because of heart disease.
African Americans have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke due to underlying issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
One yoga instructor is working to raise awareness of heart disease in the Black community with a new fitness challenge.
“My father passed away in September 2019 from a heart attack. He was 55 years old. And you know he was a fairly young man, this was unexpected for my family, it was really sudden. No one was really aware that he had heart issues. And so, my father’s passing has really motivated me to be consistent in taking care of my physical and mental health,” said Anju Kane MPH, MA, and certified yoga instructor.
Her father, Byron Franklin’s untimely death motivated Kane to work through her grief by helping others live a healthier lifestyle.
This Black History Month, she’s started a new campaign to raise awareness around the #1 killer of Americans.
“Healthy heart challenge is a 28-day challenge that I created to encourage my friends, my family, my community to be intentional about taking care of their heart health. For Black History Month this year, I really wanted to honor my dad, but I also wanted to focus on promoting Black wellness and self-love,” said Kane.
Heart disease disproportionately affects members of the African-American community.
“Almost 50% of Black women over 20 have heart disease and Black adults are most likely to die from heart disease compared to other racial-ethnic groups. There’s a variety of reasons why this happens. We can look at lifestyle choice, but I also think it’s important to highlight the systemic factors that also play into why heart disease disproportionately affects communities of color.”
Kane says lack of access to healthy foods, green spaces, and quality healthcare make it even more challenging.
Here are some tips to overcome the health disparities:
Add 30 mins of cardio a day to strengthen the heart muscle,
Decrease your consumption of processed foods, replace these foods that are high in saturated trans-fat with heart-healthy ones like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
Manage your stress
“Managing stress, stress is a silent killer, so that’s really a big one. Long term stress can really take a toll on the body, so a consistent mediation practice or gratitude practice are really useful tools for managing stress,” said Kane.
Kane adds yoga is a great way to relieve physical and mental stress. She says this sun salutation can be done daily to help elevate your heart rate.
“Heart disease is preventable. Cardiovascular disease is preventable. 80% of deaths related to heart disease, especially as it relates to stroke and heart disease are preventable,” said Kane.
Small changes can lead to big gains when it comes to your heart health.
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