African-American women know health benefits of exercise but aren’t taking action

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NEW YORK, NY, Aug. 8, 2006 – Ninety-seven percent of African-American women said they know physical activity can significantly impact their health, but only 9 percent exercise enough, according to an American Heart Association survey. Current recommendations are that women should engage in moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes five times per week.
Synovate, Inc., a market research firm based in Chicago, conducted the national survey in February 2006 using their online consumer panel.
Benefits of physical activity include a lower risk of high blood pressure control, diabetes and obesity. The American Heart Association reports that data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) study from 1990 – 2000 showed almost 20 percent of black women were obese by ages 18-24, increasing to over 35 percent by ages 25-44.
The American Heart Association survey also revealed:
úAbout 85 percent of African-American women said obesity contributes more to heart disease than physical inactivity. This supports the idea that if you are thin, you can be sedentary.
*Half as many African-American women (18 percent) cite health as
a personal goal as do their white counterparts (37 percent).
*African-American women are four times more likely to change their spending habits than change their level of physical activity.
“These survey results are alarming with regard to the current health state of African-American women,” said Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.H.A, Director of Nuclear Cardiology at New York University School of Medicine. “We know that, compared to white women, African-American women have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and more than twice the prevalence of diabetes – a major risk factor for heart disease especially among African Americans. Given their greater risk, African-American women are not doing enough to improve their health through physical activity.”
Donna Richardson Joyner, one of the nation’s premier fitness and wellness experts and a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, said “My challenge to African-American women is to raise their level of physical activity. An investment in your health is an investment in your future.”
Joyner said she became spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Choose To Move program to educate women about the benefits of physical activity – including increased energy to meet the demands of family and career.
Choose To Move is a free 12-week program that includes tips on how women can incorporate physical activity and a flavorful, healthy diet into their lives. It includes an easy-to-follow plan, a helpful handbook, monthly e-mails with suggestions for physical activity, tips on how to stay motivated and recipes with nutrition information. Some of the tips include:
* Schedule time for you and your spouse to be active together.
Take a walk around the neighborhood after dinner, or go for a bike ride.
* Challenge yourself to try new physical activities to avoid
boredom and stay motivated.
* Choose healthy snacks. Instead of grabbing a candy bar, carry fruit, yogurt or a handful of roasted almonds.
* Make simple cooking substitutions. For example, instead of using table salt, try a salt-free seasoning blend to flavor your favorite meats, vegetables and other foods.
* To get the most benefit during the day, exercise as early as you can, even on a lunch break. Physical activity, even moderate walking, improves fitness, enhances energy levels and promotes a positive state of mind.
Choose To Move is part of Go Red For Women, the American Heart Association’s national movement to raise awareness that cardiovascular disease is women’s No. 1 killer and show women how to reduce their risk. Women can register for the program by visiting americanheart.org/choosetomove or calling 1-888-MY-HEART (1-888-694-3278).
Register now and receive a Choose To Move X Band with an instructional poster while supplies last. You can use the resistance band to incorporate strength training into your daily routine, whether at work, home or traveling. Just stick it in your bag and go!
Check out Choose To Move’s “online neighborhood” discussion board to share your success stories and tips for staying motivated. Let your “neighbors” know how the program is working for you and get help from them in return. Visit y.americanheart.org/jiveforum/index.jspa.

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