Running at Dawn: A Diné Cultural and Health Teaching

Ariel Shirley, a graduating senior at the University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health who completed an internship focused on community education at the UA Sarver Heart Center, writes about the importance of running in the Diné (Navajo) culture. "Running is a teaching integrated into the Diné life cycle. I was taught to run east at dawn to greet our deities. Although it may seem ordinary to run in the morning, running is a way to honor our teachings. East is a significant direction in the Diné culture. It is the beginning of the lifecycle. Being up and active shows a sense of discipline and understanding of Diné culture. Implementing mindfulness while running shows the deities you are welcoming blessings in one’s life. Running is a teacher in itself." 

Alberta Arviso, PhD, and Ariel Shirley Ariel is the 2019 recipient of the Arizona Indians Into Medicine (AZ INMED) Award for Excellence and Service. She is pictured with Alberta Arviso, PhD, a learning support specialist in the University of Arizona Health Sciences Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Following graduation, Ariel plans to pursue a master of public health degree via the UA online program while working as an intern for the Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) Food Access Program, a partnership with the Navajo Nation Community Health Representative Outreach Program to improve the lives of those living with chronic diseases in Navajo. 

Read Ariel's Healthy Dose blogpost: