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Blacktivate Lesson 003: The Pressure. (A two-part series)

Did you know that hypertension is just another way of saying high blood pressure? Seems like basic knowledge to some, but to those who don’t know, this blog might shed a little light on the situation. High blood pressure is when the pressure of your blood against the arterial wall is high enough to cause damage to the artery itself or the organs. Wowwwzer, that is way to technical for where I want to go with this week’s blog. Let me break it down-Pickle Style!

Imagine trying to open your favorite jar of pickles. I don’t know about ya, but I love the Zesty kind. Yummmmmm! I digress; imagine trying to remove the lid from the jar but you just don’t have enough strength. But, you remember a few old school remedies: 1) tapping the bottom of the jar, 2) running the jar under some warm water, or 3) swirling it around in the air. After selecting your remedy of choice, the lid magically loosens and you get to enjoy your pickles. So what really happened in those few seconds of magic? Physics.

If you opted for old school remedy one, hitting the bottom of the jar, what occurred was the loosening of the contents and the piling of the contents on the lid. Just like that you heard a pop and all the internal pressure was released allowing you access to your pickles. This piling analogy is similar to the pressure of your blood against your arterial wall.

Time for a brief education pause:

Arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. They are pretty important!

Fortunately, you will not hear an actual pop if your blood pressure gets too high. The most obvious reason why you won’t is because you are not a jar of pickles. (If I was a jar of pickles, I’d certainly be Zesty!) All joking aside, the more concerning reason why you won’t hear a pop is because high blood pressure is a “symptomless silent killer” [1].

To root all of this information in the foundation of Blacktivate, it is important to know that high blood pressure can contribute to stroke and diabetes. Sadly, these are three of the major chronic diseases that disproportionately impact the Black community. Black people are 60% more likely to be diabetic, 40% more likely to die from heart disease, and 30% more likely to die from a stroke.

Having high blood pressure is not a death sentence, but if it goes uncontrolled can ultimately become the death of you. You don’t want that. Your friends and family don’t want that. And, I certainly don’t want that either. If you see yourself in the gold, orange, or red zones [2], it is truly time to activate your health and wellbeing. Stay tuned for Part Two when I provide helpful tips to help lower your blood pressure and start that activation process.

Until next time, be well!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

References:

  1. What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure? American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer/what-are-the-symptoms-of-high-blood-pressure
  2. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings  \
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Blacktivate Lesson 001: Physical Activity and Aging

How many times have we, as Black women, heard the saying, “Black don’t crack?” I am 44-years old and people still think that my 23-year old daughter is my sister. “Thank you, I’ll take that!!!” Second question, how many of us have heard that exercise is the fountain of youth? I’m sure quite a few of us have heard that, but it still doesn’t seem to be enough to get us to engage in physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overall, 27.5% of adults age 50 and greater reported no physical activity outside of work. Since I’m six years shy of this big nickel circle, I’m really interested in physical activity and aging. (Truth be told, I even started taking a Centrum Silver.) But, seriously, this statistic only increases with age, gender, and race. With this knowledge, it is time to bring this topic to the forefront and start educating my sisters. If you are ready for the journey, keep reading.

In that same research article, provided by the CDC, they reported that inactivity prevalence was significantly higher among women than men and among Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks compared to that of non-Hispanic Whites. Furthermore, Black women rank lowest among race and sex demographic groups to achieve recommended levels of physical activity (Joseph et al., 2015). Stay with me now…I’m curious. Could it be that we, as Black women, are relying on the fact that due to our melanin that movement really doesn’t matter?

Black women, just in case you haven’t heard it from anyone else, I’m here to tell you that, “MOVEMENT MATTERS!” I, your sister in health, have nearly 20 years of experience in health promotion and I have seen it work wonders in the lives of my clients and students. Most importantly, my Mama’s oncologist told me before she died, that her faith and her fitness enabled her to fight for 26 years! Yes indeedy, movement matters my melanin mamas!

Now, here is where I’m going to step on a few toes. As a former personal trainer and group exercise instructor, I can confidently say, “Move for the purity of movement!” I know that physical activity will lower your risk of certain chronic diseases. I know that physical activity will help to lower your weight. But, when you engage in physical activity for the sole purpose of achieving an “end” rather than enjoying the “journey” to that end, you miss the point.

Black women, we are a beautiful people with a beautiful story. And, we are fortunate to have won the genetic lottery where we don’t actually look our age. Since we are already winners, let’s win with wellness. Are YOU with me? If so, let’s activate our health and wellbeing. It’s time to…

Blacktivate!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

Reference:

Joseph, RP, Ainsworth, BE, Keller, C., Dodgson, JE. Barriers to physical activity among African American women: An integrative review of the literature. Women Health. 2015; 1-21.