April is National Minority Health Month and this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, will focus on increasing awareness regarding the “social determinants of health.” Their 2017 theme is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities.”

“Social determinants of health,” social, economic and environmental factors that impact health, can include the use of poor neighborhoods as dumping grounds for hazardous waste. They also include, from an economic perspective, neighborhoods where grocery stores cannot be found, and fresh fruits and vegetables are not options readily available, leaving families to depend on fast food or limited healthier options.

Social determinants of health can also be seen as poor living conditions such as living in unsafe neighborhoods where children can no longer ride bicycles, play and socialize outside and families are afraid to leave their homes and even walk.   All these issues negatively impact our health and well-being.

I remember when I was younger growing up in the South Bronx, playing outside with my friends, walking to local parks and even just walking to the larger outdoor markets to buy fresh fruit or treats. We were strongly urged to play outside (sidewalks) and walk everywhere. My Mom who grew up in a village located in the mountains of Puerto Rico walked everywhere and either picked her food (love those mangos), dug up root vegetables and/or went to the streams to pick small shrimp and watercress. It was a different time where we ate differently and movement was a larger part of our lives.

Why am I talking about this and why is this important? Our ability to move impacts our lives. In March of 2017, the Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention released updated facts on Arthritis and it’s impact on overall health.   The CDC stated that about 54.4 million Americans have doctor diagnosed joint pain, inflammation and stiffness. The report went further to state that many of the cases occur in individuals below 65. Unfortunately, females are more disproportionately affected by arthritis.   Also, arthritis is more prevalent in individuals who are obese, and/or are diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease.   https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm

So where we live, what we buy and how we eat impact our health. In addition to these factors, our sedentary life-style plays a huge role our health and longevity. Our lack of movement, joint pain, and the increase in obesity and other co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and depression rates are hurting our communities. It becomes a Vicious Cycle. What can we do about this and how can we break this vicious cycle? Are there any simple steps we can take or changes we can make to start to move towards health and wellness? As we say in Spanish Si se puede or Yes we can! It starts with a simple step. Movement is Life!

 Please visit our website www.startmovingstartliving.com to learn more about this issue and find resources to help you learn about what you can do to change this dynamic.   We must learn how we can break the Vicious Cycle of joint pain, inactivity, obesity, and depression.

 Rose Gonzalez                                             

Movement is the magic pill, which will help you make that change one step at a time. Join me, and others as we move and walk our way to a healthier and happier life.