May 28, 2004

Small steps to a healthier life

By Karla Rodas

Getting healthy doesn’t have to mean running five miles a day or cutting all carbs out of your diet.

Small changes in lifestyle are what a program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is calling for. They suggest using four steps to a healthier life: get the facts, eat better, get active and learn more.

One of the leading causes of death for Hispanic Americans is heart disease. Staying active reduces the risk of dying from heart disease, dying prematurely, developing high blood pressure or developing colon cancer.

Physical activity helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints and can help to control weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Inactivity increases with age and is more common among women than men and among those with lower income and less education than among those with higher income or education.”

Older adults that exercise regularly can become stronger and able to move without falling.

This is one of the reasons why a group of friends in their seventies have committed to improve their bodies and spirits.

Raquel has been a member of Club Walk since its inception in 1998. Club Walk is at the Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita, which used to be called Plaza Bonita Center. She joins her friends and neighbors three times a week for the low impact aerobics class on the lower level.

Her friend Lupe, wearing her blue Club Walk shirt, has 15 years under her belt.

Although Lupe has knee problems that prevent her from doing the leg exercises she says she still benefits from the class.

“At our age we have a little of everything,” she said, “I can still move my arms.”

The others said they have more flexibility and feel more energized by keeping active. Staying active has mental benefits as well. It promotes psychological well being.

Lupe and her friends agree. If not for this exercise I have no doubt that I would be in a wheelchair and sitting at home depressed, said Lupe.

The setting is convenient for them because it’s in a familiar and safe environment. Sometimes they stay and socialize or take advantage of the sales.

Free blood pressure screenings are offered the first Tuesday of every month. New members can sign up for Club Walk every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8-10:30 a.m. upstairs in the food court.

Mary, a certified fitness instructor, begins her class on the lower level at 9 a.m. The program is sponsored by Paradise Valley Hospital. For any further questions you can contact Jane Campbell, Center for Health Promotion, (619) 472-4628 Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita is located at: 3030 Plaza Bonita Rd. in National City.

To view suggestions on how to make small changes to a healthier future go to: www.smallstep.gov.

Karla Rodas is an intern with the UCSD San Diego EXPORT Center and is a journalism student at San Diego State University. The San Diego EXPORT Center is a partnership of organizations focusing on community minority health and health disparities research.

Return to the Frontpage