Alabama’s CHAMPION program takes on a silent killer
Good health strategies like eating a healthy diet and exercising can improve overall quality of life. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is sometimes referred to as the silent killer because typical signs or symptoms do not occur. Hypertension is the second leading cause of kidney disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only one in four Americans have their high blood pressure under control. In Alabama, 21.1% of individuals ages 18-44 have high blood pressure. The rate is 53.1% among adults ages 45-64, and 67.3% among adults age 65 and older. Many health experts recommend eating a healthy diet, limiting sodium intake to approximately one teaspoon per day, engaging in exercise and taking prescribed medication.
The Community Health Aerobic and Motivational Program Initiating Optimal Nutrition (CHAMPION) offered through Alabama Cooperative Extension System/Alabama A&M University is designed to improve eating habits, encourage physical activity and improve health literacy. In 2019, 423 completed the CHAMPION series.
While participants changed their eating habits, at least 72% began to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Fifty-one percent engaged in moderate aerobic activities four to five days per week for 30-60 minutes, and 78% engaged in strength training two to three days per week for 30-60 minutes.
In 2019 the program also started a campaign called Walking Like a CHAMPION to encourage people to walk as a daily form of exercise. To date, 827 individuals have joined the Walking Like a CHAMPION program.