Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by
When you're starting to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes the hair is one of those reasons.—U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, August 2011
I once wrote about how black women can care for their hair when physically active. It featured the perspectives of women ages 21 to 65 on how we protect our weaved, straightened, and natural styles while exercising. After reading the post, a well-respected public health leader admitted, “I did not know that hair care was an issue that kept black women from exercising.”
I wasn’t surprised that a middle-aged, middle class, white male had missed this not-too-insignificant tidbit. But I was saddened that someone with a prominent role in prevention wasn’t aware of an important factor behind the obesity crisis among black women.
There are many reasons why four out of every five black women in the U.S. are overweight or obese: We live in neighborhoods that make eating cheap, high-calorie foods and beverages very easy, but physical activity very hard. Some wonder if our genes predispose us to excess weight; others say that we are beyond motivation, given data suggesting that too many of us suffer untreated depression.
But hair, for black women, adds a whole other level of complexity, as we struggle with how we can maintain our hairstyles while being physically active. Hair is no small matter for us—it is intimately connected with our life experiences, from whether we get married, to how much money we make, to who we socialize with. Ultimately hair is a powerful mediator for how African-American women feel about themselves.
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Aug 11, 2014, 9:52 AM, Posted by
How can we help people get more sleep?
I asked that question in a blog post back in February. Since then, I’ve been actively exploring the area of sleep health. I’ve talked with researchers, behavioral economists, physicians and mindfulness experts. I’ve talked with people who think they get enough sleep, and people who think they don’t. I’ve talked with anyone I can to discover what we need to know and do in order to help Americans sleep.
Sleep has tremendous ripple effects on our overall health and well-being. Lack of sleep affects your brain. There’s evidence that it affects your working memory. And as any new parent will confirm, we don’t need research to tell us that those who are sleep deprived are less able to control their tempers.
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Jul 11, 2014, 12:04 PM, Posted by
Just about everybody experiences stress, to a greater or lesser degree. The bad news: Too many of us fall into the "greater" category.
All of that stress has consequences not just for our mental health, but for our overall wellbeing, says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, Writing in the professional social networking site LinkedIn.
Lavizzo-Mourey cites the results of a recent NPR/RWJF/Harvard School of Public Health poll, which shows:
- One in four said they experienced a great deal of stress in the previous month.
- Almost half reported a major stressful event or experience within the past year.
- Seventy-four percent said stress affected their health.
- Forty-three percent said that a health concern is a leading cause of their stress.
- Eighty percent of people in poor health reported that their health problems raised their level of stress.
If we are to make progress in building a Culture of Health, we need to acknowledge the deleterious role of stress in Americans' lives and health—and everybody needs to be at the table.
"This is clearly an area where health care providers, communities, and employers can help," Lavizzo-Mourey writes.
Read Lavizzo-Mourey's blog post on LinkedIn
Jun 29, 2014, 11:23 AM, Posted by
But I wasn't happy at first. While on vacation, I was mortified when I saw “him” lying at the bottom of the pool. “He” was my constant companion through boredom-and caffeine-fueled late-night working sessions.
Snap back to reality. Moments later my other companion—my husband—frantically rescued my iPhone from the depths of crystal clear waters. First aid involved promptly powering off the phone and depositing “him” into a bag of rice where “he” would remain for a week (or two!), drying out
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Jul 30, 2013, 2:18 PM, Posted by
Jody L. Struve
Here at RWJF, we are looking everywhere for good ideas. The other day, I found inspiration in a typo: “Thank you for your health,” a colleague signed her email, when she meant to write help.
I thanked her back: “Thank you for your health, too!” And, as I hit reply, amused by my little joke, I realized my smile was connected to something deeper than simple wordplay—I felt, for that moment, like a good citizen.
Now admittedly, I’m someone who can get goose bumps when reminded of our basic humanity by a politely held open door. But thanking someone for their health, especially after just being recognized appreciatively for mine, snapped into focus how our health, our own personal health and what we do with it, impacts everyone around us—as clearly as tossing an empty can into the recycling bin.
We each have an active role to play in being good health citizens.
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