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Mindful Athlete

Run, Don’t Walk, For Your Health

February 23, 2016

What’s better than walking away your stress? Running away your stress!

Studies show that running strengthens your joints, keeps you sharp, and actually makes you happier. Running is also a great way to lower your risk of heart disease. If you aren’t an active runner, February is the perfect month to start.

With Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, February is the month for spreading love and awareness. Since 1963, Americans have also designated February American Heart Month to a campaign against the heart disease epidemic. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men and women. In fact, every 60 seconds an American dies from a heart disease-related event. Unfortunately, the population that is most effected by heart disease is the African American community.

African American men from the southeast region of the United States are at the highest risk of heart disease. In fact, more than 40 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. This American Heart Health month, the CDC started the Million Hearts campaign to offer tips and spread awareness among the African American community. A great tip for reducing heart disease risk is cardio workouts, such as running; unfortunately running has not been a trend among the African American community.

In a 2011 National Runner Survey from Running USA, it was found that 90 percent of the 12,000 participating runners were Caucasian. Five percent were Hispanic, four percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, and only fewer than two percent were African American. With such surprisingly low stats, many people have questioned why there are fewer African American runners today.

There is a long history of African American competitive runners that dates back to 1879. And African American runners and athletes have made great accomplishments in the field, including, Wilma Rudolph and Florence Griffith Joyner. Some believe it’s the lack of public recreational spaces in local neighborhoods or the popularity of other sports (like football or basketball) that keeping running from catching on in the African American community.

A lack of support could also keep people from running. Here are three motivational running tips that can help any aspiring runner get started.

  1. Find your running inspiration. It can be a family member or friend who runs. Ask them for advice that can help you. Since it’s Black History Month, consider learning about famous African American runners as well, such as Jesse Owens whose life story has recently been made into a movie.
  1. Join a running club. Looking for support? You can’t go wrong with joining a running club. They’re a fun way to connect with other runners in your community. There has been a rise in African American running clubs as well. Check out Black Girls RUN!, Black Men Run, or the National Black Marathoners Association for local chapters of these clubs.
  1. Prepare yourself. Once you get in the groove of running, you can use your morning jog as your meditation time. Use these five tips to transform your regular workout routine into a time of introspection.
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