Do You Have High Blood Pressure? Find Out with This New Online Interactive Tool

Do You Have High Blood Pressure? Find Out with This New Online Interactive Tool

Nearly half of the adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. This means that you or someone close to you has a blood pressure reading at 130/80 or higher.

It wasn’t always this way – just a couple of years ago 1 in 3 Americans had high blood pressure instead of nearly 1 in 2.

So why the change? Does this mean we’re getting less healthy?

It’s quite the opposite. Based on years of scientific study, the change means we’re actually more aware of the effects of elevated blood pressure.

Two years ago, the definition of high blood pressure changed from 140/90 to 130/80 (technically 130+ or 80+, but we’re keeping it simple here). The result is that more people became classified as having high blood pressure. It doesn’t mean that thousands of people became ill overnight, though. It means we want people to know that high blood pressure is serious, and that it can begin damaging your blood vessels and organs at lower levels than previously thought, particularly if you don’t act to keep your numbers from rising.

It’s worth noting that blood pressure tends to rise naturally as we age, so it typically hasn’t been on the health radar for people under age 45. However, with the new definition, an important health alert was sent to people in their 20s and 30s to pay attention to their blood pressure levels. Among men aged 20 -44, the rate of high blood pressure nearly tripled. Among women in that age range, it doubled.

The American Heart Association has created an interactive tool that can help you not only identify your health risk according to your blood pressure level, but also provide notes on what actions you can take to ensure it stays at, or gets to, a healthy level. You can check it out at

Making changes that matter can have a significant impact on your blood pressure levels. In fact, most of those who suddenly find themselves with high blood pressure under the new definition will be given a “prescription” for lifestyle changes – not medicine – that can lower their pressure.  Even for those who do require medication to control their levels, lifestyle changes help those meds work better and can even help you stay on lower doses. Some examples of a lifestyle change prescription include:

Physical activity:

  • 90 – 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity can drop your top blood pressure number (called systolic pressure) by 5-8 mmHg.
  • 90 – 150 minutes per week of dynamic resistance exercise can drop your systolic blood pressure 4 mmHg

 A healthy diet:

  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, such as the DASH eating plan can drop your systolic pressure up to 11 mmHg.

 Sodium (i.e. salt):

  • Reducing your salt intake by about 1000 mg per day has a similar effect on systolic pressure as increasing aerobic activity – dropping it about 5 mmHg.

 Weight loss:

  • For about every 2 pounds lost, your systolic pressure could drop 1 mmHg.

The benefits of lifestyle change can add up quickly. Many of the same lifestyle prescriptions that lower blood pressure also reduce the risk of other dangerous conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity can help you lead a healthier and longer life!

Article contributed by Sondra DePalma, DHSc, PA-C, Cardiology, PinnacleHealth Cardiovascular Institute, Harrisburg, PA

American Heart Association Volunteer

Disclaimer: Some slight edits may have been made to the article’s original copy for grammatical reasons and/or clarity. 

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Could Your Gym Membership Equal a Tax Break?

Could Your Gym Membership Equal a Tax Break?

On July 25, 2018, the 2018 PHIT Act was passed by the U.S.  House of Representatives. Now PHIT heads to the Senate.

If written into law, this bill would allow for some fitness expenses to be deemed a write-off, meaning your gym membership could be one step closer to qualifying as a tax break.

Aside from a gym membership additional activities and expenses that would be covered if the bill becomes law include safety equipment used in an exercise program performed in either a formal setting or self-directed.

Additional eligible fitness expenses would include:

  • Exercise Classes
  • Personal Trainers
  • Dumbbells & Free Weights
  • Medicine Balls
  • Race & Fitness Event Registration Fees
  • Resistance Bands
  • Treadmills, Elliptical & other equipment
  • Martial Arts Classes
  • Yoga accessories
  • Training Aids
  • Fitness Trackers

According to an article released by CNBC,

The tax break would be limited to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for heads of households and couples who file joint tax returns.

To receive your tax break, you would need to count your medical expenses against your income and itemize your deductions. The eligible health care costs would need to exceed a certain amount of your AGI (adjusted gross income) in order to be a deductible. “For 2018, that threshold is 7.5 percent. In 2019, it goes to 10 percent,” as stated by CNBC.

Gym memberships, weight loss programs, and fitness classes are currently only deductible for taxpayers who have a qualifying medical condition that meets certain criteria.  If this new bill becomes law, it could help the many others who are looking to make an investment in their health.

For those unfamiliar, in 2017 a nearly identical bill was proposed known as PHIT America which promoted individuals to get active and encouraged healthy physical activity.

You can find the full PDF version of the bill here.


  1. O’Brien, Sarah. “That Gym Membership Is a Step Closer to Being a Tax Break.” CNBC, CNBC, 12 July 2018,
  2. Erb, Kelly Phillips. “Congress Considers Bill To Make Gym Memberships, Fitness Classes Tax Deductible.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 July 2018,
  3. Smith, Jason. “Text – H.R.6312 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): PHIT Act.”, 19 July 2018,

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LA Fitness Welcomes Service Animals

LA Fitness Welcomes Service Animals

A special message from LA Fitness: 


Do you or someone you know have a service animal? Then LA Fitness welcomes you. Our service animal practices are located at the front entrance of our gyms. So simply come on down to any LA Fitness location nationwide with your service animal and you’re all set. No further information or documentation is required. So come on down to the gym, we’ll see you here!

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On Air: Welcome to The Living Healthy Podcast

On Air: Welcome to The Living Healthy Podcast

Have you heard? LA Fitness has officially launched its first ever podcast!

The Living Healthy Podcast acts as an extension of the Living Healthy blog but in an audio format. It’s the perfect entertainment for your drivetime commute, or for those who would rather listen to health and fitness advice rather than read about it.

Listeners will get on-demand health, nutrition, and inspirational advice to better assist them in reaching their personal fitness goals.

The inaugural episode focuses on the Top 5 Myths of Nutrition and features LA Fitness registered dietitian Debbie James.

Episodes can be found on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, and many others! Download the free LA Fitness mobile app to stream the podcast directly from our Living Healthy blog.

Jill Grueling, Executive Vice President of Operations at LA Fitness shared,

“We want to help cultivate a larger fitness network that would be able to help support and encourage each other to maintain healthier lifestyles. We believe the launch of the Living Healthy podcast will aid in providing another platform for our members and future members to stay motivated and inspired to live their best lives.”

What Are You Interested In?




We Want to Hear from You!

How are we doing? What do you want to hear about? Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us on air? Send us your thoughts, questions, and stories to or reach out to us on one of our many social platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and use the tag #LivingHealthyPodcast.

You or your question could end up on the air!

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The Silent Killer – Podcast Ep. 5

The Silent Killer – Podcast Ep. 5

Welcome to the 5th episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of Living Healthy, we’re covering high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, and speak with experts in the field regarding this deadly silent killer.

How Are We Doing? 

Timecard Markers – The Silent Killer – Podcast Ep. 4


Begins at 0:01 

MOS (Man on the Street): 

Begins at 1:10 

Introduction of Dr. Warren Johnston, Cardiologist and President of OC Division of AHA (American Heart Association) and Director of the Women’s Health Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital 

Begins at 2:08 

AHA New Guidelines: 

Begins at 3:28 

Marijuana Use and High Blood Pressure (HBP): 

Begins at 5:40 

The Silent Killer: 

Begins at 8:10 

At What Age Does High Blood Pressure Begin? 

Begins at 8:38 

What Causes HBP? 

Begins at 9:33 

Nutrition’s Role on High Blood Pressure/Introduction of Debbie James, RDN 

Begins at 10:51 

Physical Activity’s Role on High Blood Pressure/Introduction of Pro Results® Trainer, Morgan Connors  

Begins at 15:01 

Is HBP Really Life or Death? 

Begins at 18:35 

This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Recommended Podcast Episodes 



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