Keep moving toward better health
People of all ages take part in a walk in this 2012 event at Camp Heart of the Hills in Welling as part of the Cherokee Nation’s annual Diabetes Prevention Program retreat. The Indian Health Service suggests “individuals of all ages can benefit from daily physical activity.” WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
In this 2016 photo, people exercise during a boot camp class at the Cherokee Nation Male Seminary Recreation Center in Tahlequah. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ fitness initiative called Move Your Way, physical activity will “boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce your stress and improve your sleep.” ARCHIVE
TAHLEQUAH – Squeezing physical activities into a daily routine, experts say, can help reduce risks for diabetes, some forms of cancer, obesity and the No. 1 killer in the Cherokee Nation – heart disease.
A few of the “active” recommendations include short walks, climbing stairs, biking, housework, gardening or simply standing up while working.
“Some physical activity is better than none,” the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases suggests. “Start by moving for 10 minutes a day. Every few weeks, add 5 to 10 minutes until you are active at least 30 minutes most days.”
The Indian Health Service suggests “individuals of all ages can benefit from daily physical activity.” Specifically, Native Americans have “long experienced lower health status when compared with other Americans,” according to the IHS.
“Diseases of the heart, malignant neoplasm, unintentional injuries and diabetes are leading causes of American Indian and Alaska Native deaths,” an IHS report states. “American Indians and Alaska Natives born today have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the U.S. all-races population.”
CN health leaders point to heart disease as the leading cause of premature death and disability within the tribe.
“I looked at all the patients who came to our health services in calendar year 2018,” Dr. David Gahn, public health medical director, recently told CN leaders. “Of all the people with the diagnosis of heart disease, 57 percent were less than 60 years old. There are people in their 30s and 40s dying of heart disease. Why this is a public health issue is because heart disease is largely preventable. Cigarette smoking is the No. 1 cause of death and disability in the United States, in Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation.”
Other major heart disease risk factors, he said, include obesity, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ fitness initiative called Move Your Way, physical activity will “boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce your stress and improve your sleep.”
The government recommends engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 150 minutes a week.
“Anything that gets your heart beating faster counts,” the Move Your Way guide states. “If you step it up to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, aim for at least 75 minutes a week.”
Another recommendation is to take part in muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.
“Do activities that make your muscles work harder than usual,” the guide recommends.
Over time, physical activity can lower risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and some cancers, control blood pressure and help maintain a healthy weight, experts say.
The IHS recommends toddlers and children play actively for at least 60 minutes each day. The nonprofit KidsHealth also suggests children get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily.
“Kids and teens are sitting around a lot more than they used to,” the KidsHealth website states. “They spend hours every day in front of a screen looking at a variety of media. Too much screen time and not enough physical activity add to the problem of childhood obesity.”
Healthy adults 18-64 years of age are urged to walk 30 minutes a day “for good health” or an hour a day to also “lose body fat,” according to the IHS. Seniors aged 65 and up, or from 50-64 with chronic conditions, are encouraged to walk 30 minutes five days a week.
“Being active can help protect you from some diseases,” the IHS suggests. “To avoid falls, please see a physical therapist to learn balance exercises that can help.”
To help prevent heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends adopting healthy eating habits combined with regular physical activity.