Find Your Path to an Active and Healthy Lifestyle

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By U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, M.D.
Department of Health and Human Services

CAPT Felicia Collins, M.D.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director, Office of Minority Health
Department of Health and Human Services

As National Minority Health Month enters its last week, it has been inspiring to experience and learn about the events and activities taking place across the nation in support of minority health.

Each year, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) works with partners and other stakeholders to coordinate the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) observance of National Minority Health Month, which dates back more than 100 years, to a 1915 campaign by Dr. Booker T. Washington. The 2019 theme is Active & Healthy, and throughout the Department, we have been encouraging all Americans to live healthier by being physically active.

The theme is designed to promote the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and the Move Your Way Campaign developed by the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). According to the guidelines, adults need 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity and at least two days of moderate or greater intensity muscle-strengthening activities a week.

Being physically active is one of the best things we can do to improve our health. It is particularly important in improving health outcomes that can reduce health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities.

In 2018, just 21.7 percent of Latinos and 19.9 percent of African Americans met ODPHP’s aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines. And the numbers weren’t much better for whites. Just 26 percent of white Americans met both guidelines. So, it is clear that Active & Healthy is an important message for every community.

Being physically active doesn’t necessarily have to happen at the fitness center, in spin class or on the treadmill. For some of us, it can mean walking the dog for longer periods of time or at a quicker pace. Others might be physically active on the soccer field or basketball court, or the dance floor. The other good news is that any amount of physical activity counts toward the weekly total and has real health benefit. You don’t have to train to run a marathon to be Active & Healthy! Just aim to sit less and move more throughout the day.

At HHS, being Active & Healthy has been happening at places like the campus of the National Institutes of Health, where the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) hosted its 3rd Annual Minority Health 5K Walk/Run on April 24.

In addition, on April 24, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a discussion about the impact of the social determinants of health –including physical activity — on physical and mental health, and other conditions that are more common among racial and ethnic minorities.

On April 17, OMH joined the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, NIMHD, ODPHP and others for a Twitter Chat to promote physical activity and staying healthy.

And on April 1, Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, joined more than 50 HHS staff members for the kickoff walk of the OMH Active & Healthy Challenge. Visit the OMH website to learn how you can join the month-long challenge by converting all of your physical activity for the entire month into steps. The winner will be announced after the challenge ends.

We are in the final days of the Active & Healthy Challenge! However, we will continue to promote the benefits of physical activity throughout the year with the goal of encouraging more Americans to incorporate the Active & Healthy lifestyle into their daily and weekly routines.

Categories: Special Observance
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