This summer, Columbus, Ohio residents gathered to run or walk through the city to send the message that health is important in the Black community, particularly for Black men. There were nearly 10,000 people in attendance for the event.
The African American Male Wellness Walk Initiative was created to raise awareness for diseases that can easily be prevented. For example, African-Americans are three times more likely to die from diabetes, and are more likely than any other ethnic group to die of cancer. Black men are disproportionately affected by prostate cancer, and are three times more likely to pass away as a result of the disease. The Ohio health event featured a 5K walk or run to encourage Black families to exercise more. The event also provided health screenings, free of charge. This is the eleventh year of the African American Male Wellness Walk Initiative, and organizers hope to spread their message not only in Ohio, but across the nation.
“The overall health and wellness of the community is dependent on the health of our men,” said Brian Byrd, the National Chairman and Deputy Chief of the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department.
Byrd also shared that Black men are dying from diseases that don’t have to occur in the body, and this is occurring about 10 times more than it does in men of other races. Those who are working with the African American Male Wellness Walk Initiative also hope to raise awareness about child obesity among people of color. When children see their parents exercising, they are more likely to adopt this healthy habit.
Black men (as well as Black women and children), can take more control of their health by exercising at least three times a week for half an hour or more. Reducing the amount of processed salt and sugar in the diet can also reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Relaxation techniques such as breathing therapy and meditation can also help to solidify a person’s health and wellness goals, and reduce the stress that can lead to serious health issues within the Black community.