National Minority Health Month brings awareness to healthy living


Brianna Benitez

The Texas State Student Recreation Center a place where all students can practice physical fitness. Photo By Brianna Benitez

Brianna Benitez

The national Office of Minority Health (OMH) is challenging minorities to incorporate fitness in their daily routines in honor of Minority Health Month.

National Minority Health Month occurs every April. The theme this year is centered on active and healthy living. The OMH is encouraging American minorities to improve their health through physical activity.

The Office of Institutional Resources reported that minority enrollment at Texas State has increased in recent years.

As of fall 2018, Hispanic students counted for 37.6%of the student population while African-American students counted for 11.18%. Minority enrollment at Texas State accounts for over50% of the student population. 

In order to accommodate non-native English speakers, the Student Health Center provides video remote language interpretation services to ensure all students receive the best care possible.

In addition to clean eating, exercise and physical fitness play a vital role in a healthy lifestyle. However, according to the OMH, only 1 in 4 adults meet the physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Lack of physical activity can increase the chance of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which can be more extreme among racial and ethnic minority groups.

According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Hispanic individuals are 50% more likely to die from diabetes than white people. Additionally, Hispanic individuals have a greater risk of being pre-diabetic compared to non-Hispanic people.

Factors that can increase someone’s chances of having diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of the disease or exercising less than three times a week.

Rebecca Rodriguez, special education junior, is a certified Zumba instructor at the Student Recreation Center. Rodriguez said Zumba is an effective form of exercise since it incorporates cardio, toning and strength building.

As a college student, Rodriguez understands the difficulty in finding the time to include fitness into her schedule. However, she said finding a community of like-minded individuals helped her stay accountable during her fitness and health journey.

“Exercise is a great way to release any pent-up tension or stress negatively affecting us,” Rodriguez said. “It’s good to incorporate physical activity not just to be physically healthy, but to have a healthy mindset.”

The American Heart Association reported heart diseases as the number one cause of death for Americans. Specifically, high blood pressure is most common in African Americans.

Research from the American Heart Association shows African Americans may carry a gene which causes a higher sensitivity to salt compared to other races. For individuals who carry this gene, as little as one half a teaspoon of salt could raise blood pressure as much as 5 mmHg, with the average number about 1.5 mmHg.

If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Integrating in regular physical fitness and limiting stress can aid in preventing high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

Julia Fusilier, public health sophomore, runs a health and lifestyle blog titled “Zest for Life,” where she discusses the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

Fusilier said practicing healthy living at a young age is important, given it can help decrease the chance of developing chronic diseases and gaining weight in the future.

Fusilier said students can start living healthier lifestyle in small ways, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to class instead of riding the bus.

She said getting a little bit of exercise every day, making healthier food choices and taking the time to destress can go a long way.

“Exercise and healthy eating isn’t as hard as it seems,” Fusilier said. “It’s all about the smaller life changes.”

Although the obesity rate for Asian Americans is relatively low compared to other minority groups, it is increasing at a vigorous rate.

According to research completed by the Journal of Community Health, Asian Americans can develop obesity-related complications, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, at lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared to other races.

Researchers believe this difference can be traced to cellular factors. When pregnant, fat tissues in Asian women are limited in terms of expansion. This results in the Asian population experiencing obesity complications at lower BMIs compared to other races who handle more expansion in fat cells better.

Furthermore, lifestyle changes Asian individuals may undergo after moving to America can affect their health. Once in the U.S., Asian individuals are more likely to consume foods high in carbohydrates, fats and sugars. This change can be drastic for those who are accustomed to regularly eating foods with healthy fats and carbohydrates.

OMH is challenging minorities across the nation to change health statistics. Join the movement by using #NMHM19 on all social media platforms.

To stay informed on minority health facts, follow the Student Health Center on Twitter to receive informational tweets throughout Minority Health Month.

For more information about minority health and Minority Health Month, visit theOffice of Minority Health online.

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