Nonprofit Hosting Walk to Celebrate April as Black Women’s Health Month in Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Saturday, the group Black Women 4 Healthy Living will hold a health walk to celebrate Gov. Kim Reynolds declaring April, Black Women’s Health Month. 

The president of this new nonprofit said the event is a start to a series of walks to help women cope with stress. A nurse practitioner at UnityPoint Health, Jesse Becker, said stress can be more damaging to the body than people think. 

“If you chronically live with stress that stimulates those stress hormones every day, then your body is constantly in a state of stimulation,  increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased respiratory rate increases with gastric acid production,” Becker said. “All of those things when the body becomes overstimulated those organs specifically are constantly overstimulated. That’s not a good thing.” 

According to the Department of Health, Black women are 60 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than the general public. 

“If I could sum it up we’re dying from stress. Stress-induced diseases, so preventable. It’s stress, and stress will kill you,” Miller said. “And even though they say Black don’t crack, we sure do break down, we may be strong and resilient in law, a lot of ways but there’s a cost to that.” 

According to the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, nearly half of Black women over the age of 20 have heart issues. 

However, Macmillan Cancer Support says walking a mile a day can reduce your chances of dying from a preventable disease by 50 percent.  

Miller said the health walk this weekend will kick off a series of walks Black Women 4 Healthy Living plan to host over the next couple of months. 

Leaders of this nonprofit were previously involved in GirlTrek, a national group encouraging Black women to use walking as a practical exercise.

Miller said they decided to branch off and start Black Women 4 Healthy Living to include faith in their mission and take a more catered approach to the needs of women in Iowa. 

“We want to affect change and we want to be a part of this community. We want to be a part of the state, not just as just people working and surviving. But we want to be thoroughly thriving and be a part of the vision of this city,” Miller said. 

Since becoming a nonprofit last year, the group has hosted a neighborhood clean up, a Breast Cancer walk, a voter rally, and a blood drive. Miller says this is only the beginning. 

The Black Women Health Walk will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, at Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 1650 Garfield Ave. in Des Moines.

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