One step at a time: D.C. resident walks for health and community

Deborah Nix, left, leads a walking group that started out NIH study on physical activity.

Last updated on August 6th, 2021 at 12:06 pm

For Washington, D.C., resident Deborah Nix, walking connects her to the community and gives her confidence. “A friend of mine saw me out walking recently, and said, ‘Girl, you’re looking good!” Deborah says.

Walking has also helped Deborah and her fellow community members get healthier.

Walking with NIH

Deborah helps lead a community walking group as part of the Washington, D.C. Cardiovascular (CV) Health and Needs Assessment study. The program is led by NIH researcher Tiffany Powell-Wiley, M.D., M.P.H.

It aims to help people better track their nutrition and exercise, and ultimately improve their heart health. As part of the study, Deborah got a physical examination from Dr. Powell-Wiley at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. They screened her for heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and related chronic conditions.

“They walked me through every step and explained everything to me,” Deborah says. “It has been a real eye-opener to be part of the program.”

Recruiting others

Deborah also recruits other community members to participate in NIH research.

Now, more than 100 D.C.-area residents have taken part in studies by Dr. Powell-Wiley’s group over the past six years. Many participants joined through cooperation from area churches.

“Working with Dr. Powell-Wiley has been a blessing,” Deborah says. “People, including me, have noticed that walking has lowered their blood pressure, their weight has dropped, and they have more energy.”

Looking forward

Deborah plans to keep walking and focusing on her health, even when she’s done with the study.

“I try to spread the word as much as possible,” Deborah says. “If we can be healthier, we can help our communities be healthier.”

Her advice for others who are looking to follow a healthier lifestyle is to take time for themselves.

“As women, we often put other people first, and then forget about ourselves,” Deborah says. “Make sure to prioritize yourself.”

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