No one needs to remind us that Blacks face greater health challenges than our white counterparts — from diabetes and obesity to HIV and cancer. But that doesn’t mean we have to lead the way in self-fulfilling prophecy.

Members of the African-American community can, if we are so inclined and diligent in our efforts, follow a few simple tips that medical officials say will add years to our lives and improve the quality of those additional years.

Still, the question remains are we willing to make the changes? I, for one, am already on that path and I’m hoping some of you will join me.

The good news: you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods or act as if you’re in training for a marathon to improve your health. Over time, small changes to eating, drinking and physical activity habits go a long way in controlling weight, feeling better and making a person healthier.

But we must first face the facts. More than three-in-four Black adults are overweight or obese. And excess weight increases the chance of certain cancers, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. Ask your physician what a healthy weight is for you and be prepared to lose weight.

Instead of those fried chicken lunches, try drinking milk, eating dark and leafy vegetables like collard greens or kale, cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks and start eating more whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.

Choose steamed veggies, water, sugar-free coffee or tea and initiate an exercise regimen.

Exercise should be added to your routine slowly at first, like walking briskly for just 10 minutes, either before work or during your lunch hour as well as after dinner, so that your daily total is 30 minutes. But you can also do gardening or even add aerobics. And to make it fun, add a friend or two. You can even do housework with more energy, park farther away or get off public transportation a few blocks from your destination and walk the rest of the way.

Finally, write down your goals and track your progress.

This health supplement focuses on prevention and awareness. And there are simple ways to prevent serious health problems and prevent other ailments from becoming fixtures in our lives.

Improving our health can be fun — but first we must listen to our bodies and then be willing to make a few changes. So, are you ready? Ready, get set, go!

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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