What We’re Reading: The Longest Walk

According to the ADA, Native Americans have the highest prevalence of diabetes amongst any ethnic group in the United States, at nearly 17%. In order to raise awareness of diabetes, several Native American tribes, together with health advocates and other participants, are taking a walk: A five-month-long, 5,000-mile walk from California to Washington, DC.


The founder of “The Longest Walk,” Dennis Banks, created the event in 2009 in order to raise awareness of the importance of exercise in managing diabetes. After he was hospitalized for serious diabetes-related complications, Dennis made drastic changes to his diet and exercise. These changes helped to reverse his diabetes, and he has become an advocate for exercise in diabetes management since then.

This year is the third annual “Longest Walk (Reversing Diabetes).” The event began on February 14 and is expected to finish on July 8. Native American leaders and participants starting in San Diego may choose to walk all or part of the journey, and will be joined by others in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Virginia, Georgia, and nine other states. Each day, they will walk 15–25 miles, or run 50–100 miles as part of relay teams. According to Edwin Romero, chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians who are helping to organize the walk, “the importance of nutrition and regular exercise is a message that we work to promote through our ongoing support of diabetes awareness programs. We want to do everything we can to enhance the health and well-being of our people, young and old.”

To learn more about “The Longest Walk 3 (Reversing Diabetes),” you can visit www.longestwalk3.com.

This blog entry was written by Web Intern Helen Zhu.

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  • Frank & Rosa Alby

    We were in Gresham, OR, to see the walkers off when they started the northern route. We all knew they would hit deep snow and cold wind when crossing Mt. Hood Pass that night, but none were detered. With drum, songs, and prayers, the walkers began an endurance journey, all carrying our hopes for a cure to diabetes. Walk strong, soldiers, our prayers are with you.

  • National Relief Charities

    We appreciate your post and can understand why you would call diabetes “the longest walk.” So many of the folks on the American Indian reservations where we work are learning to live with and manage diabetes.

    I wanted to share that in 2010 we (National Relief Charities) teamed up with the American Heart Association (AHA) for a heart walk in Phoenix. We distributed information about the “4 super-risk factors” for Native Americans.

    Because Native Americans have the highest rate of diabetes in the world, they are also at higher risk of heart disease… Thus, managing diabetes also includes managing heart heatlh, and walks are great for this. Many factors contribute to heart disease – stress, heredity, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and poor diet. Yet, according to the AHA, these are outweighed by 4 super-risk factors: diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and depression.

    I hope you’ll follow our blog too at http://www.blog.nrcprograms.org. Thanks again for your post.