By: Marilyn Reed
Sunday, May 13, was Mother’s Day. This was my eighth “mother-less” Mother’s Day. However, instead of visiting the cemetery and submitting a tribute to the local paper, I decided to run. This run was not for me. It was for her. My mother suffered a fatal heart attack in 2004. I ran to honor her memory and that of other black mothers gone too soon due to heart disease.
The Mississippi Department of Health says heart disease is the leading cause of death in Mississippi, accounting for over a third of all deaths in the state. Mississippi's cardiovascular mortality rate is the nation’s highest. Because black women have a tendency to be more overweight and likely to be less physically active than our white counterparts—we are more prone to heart disease.
Heart disease is hereditary. I am aware of my risk factors. I cannot change my DNA, but I can change my habits, re-programmed myself and re-write my family’s medical future. Once sedentary, I now run three miles per day. Changing my eating habits and drinking water is challenging but necessary.
Running is beneficial in many ways. It is my therapy. For the price of my new Asics, I can meditate, reflect, raise my self-esteem, analyze and work through my issues. Running gives me power and confidence. After my morning miles, I am no longer Lois Lane but Superwoman capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Now, recent research says that regular jogging increases life expectancy for females by 5.6 years. How great is that? When I ran this Mother’s Day, I honored my mother’s life because I am saving my own. Running will become my Mother’s Day tradition. What a beautiful tribute to my mommy and what a great way to preserve the sexy.
Marilyn Reed is a resident of Jackson, Miss., and a supporter of BGR! She enjoys working out and spending time with her family, friends and Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters.