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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Instructor Spotlight | Working Out is Truly the Best Medicine

Instructor Spotlight | Working Out is Truly the Best Medicine

“Working out is truly the best medicine! There is not a pill out there that can make you feel as good as you do with regular workout sessions. So just do it!  You will never regret working out. Classes make it fun and allow you to meet new people. We all feed off of one another in the class so bring your energy and join me!”

Karla K.

Group Fitness Instructor, LA Fitness

I currently teach 10 classes a week for LA Fitness, in following formats: Sculpt, Bodyworks Plus Abs, Cycle, Aqua Fit, and Senior Fitness. I love to teach a variety of formats because you get to meet a variety of people this way and interact with members of every age and fitness level. My current fitness goal is to feel good, and I do!

I started teaching for LA Fitness about 10 years ago, around the time that LA Fitness had opened in Michigan. LA Fitness was looking for instructors, so I began my AFAA group certification and was hired right after. Teaching has helped hold me accountable for my workouts. I look forward to going to work. It really is the best job in the world. To have 30+ members waiting for you and looking forward to “your” class is a great feeling. I often tell the members who are thanking me for motivating them that they also motivate me to be a better instructor for them!! So, I always thank them right back!

I have always worked out from a young age in my living room where I would do step aerobics from the TV. I danced at a studio for 6 years and did Poms [high school dance team] in high school. When I graduated high school I joined Vic Tanny, which then became Bally Total Fitness. I always took the classes when I could, with step being my favorite class.

Eventually, I got into running. I would run 20 to 30 miles a week before work or school or in the afternoon whenever I could fit it in. I earned my BA in psychology from Oakland University. I got married had two children and used my treadmill a lot. I came back to the gym when my treadmill broke. I joined a different gym and just ran a lot! Then, I started taking classes at Bally’s again, and shortly after my local Bally’s location was acquired by LA Fitness is when I went and became group certified with AFAA and began teaching at LA Fitness.

Teaching has brought my fitness to a new level of amazing! I have never had so much fun or felt so good! LA Fitness brings training workshops to our state at least once a year to train us in different formats, and they are always great and professional.

As for my diet, I am mostly vegetarian. I chose to stop eating meat when I was 19 years old. Although my decision to become vegetarian wasn’t primarily for health reasons, I do believe it helps me to stay at a good weight and feel great and healthy.

Some slight adjustments may have been made for clarity and/or grammatical purposes. 

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Instructor Spotlight | Transforming Lives Through Yoga

Instructor Spotlight | Transforming Lives Through Yoga

“Going to the gym and working out has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. For that reason, I have been enjoying a good and healthy lifestyle so far.”

Shaun G.

Group Fitness Instructor, LA Fitness

I was working at Bally’s Total Fitness for a number of years in their martial arts program (TMA). I was a Taekwondo instructor (Second Degree Black Belt). Unfortunately, Bally’s Total Fitness filed for bankruptcy and they closed the TMA program. Within a few months, I decided to become a member of LA Fitness and shortly after, I started working as an aerobics instructor.

Going to the gym and working out has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. For that reason, I have been enjoying a good and healthy lifestyle so far. It takes a lot of discipline and hard work. It becomes a habit and addiction that you cannot live without. By teaching at LA Fitness, I have met a lot of people with the same pattern and routine.

In today’s modern world, we are blessed with things that make our lives easier, better, and faster. At the same time, all of these comforts have their side effects too. In today’s world, there are many things that work for us and many things that work against us. Having a modern gym such as LA Fitness with state-of-the-art facilities is a blessing that makes our life better.

We are fortunate to live in the Dallas, Fort Worth area where there are plenty of LA Fitness clubs within few miles of each other. LA Fitness offers a number of different classes at different locations and times.

Most of the members that are attending these classes become regular members. They see the benefit of these Group Fitness classes. Most of them enjoy exercising with others. They love the motivation and inspiration these classes offer. As an instructor, helping people get in shape and stay in shape without dropping out is fulfilling. Not all people are the same, and they have different needs.

As I mentioned before, it takes a lot of discipline and hard work to reach a fitness goal. However, helping people to reach their fitness goals is a great feeling and has its own reward. In a way, by helping other people you are helping yourself. These Group Fitness classes at LA Fitness give members a chance to surround themselves with people that have the same goals. They get a chance to have a happy and joyful lifestyle. Some of them become friends, socialize for life, and give each other support, advice, and motivation.

My goal is to help as many people as I can through Yoga. Yoga is not just wonderful way to work out but also a path to self-discovery. You can lose weight and tone up your body while transforming your life at the same time. This ancient practice or discipline is one of the best things you can do for mind, body, and spirit.

Classes Taught:

I have been working at LA Fitness for almost 5 years. I teach Yoga, Boot Camp, Body Works, Cycling, Mat Pilates and Power Circuit, but my main passion is Yoga. I teach eight Yoga classes a week in four LA Fitness locations (Rowlett, Sachse, Richardson, and Garland in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.)

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Meet Shontelle Shelton of Team USA Women’s Football

Meet Shontelle Shelton of Team USA Women’s Football

“If I had any advice to give it would be to, live loud and have fun while doing it!”

Shontelle Shelton

LA Fitness Member

I grew up in a household where my family was involved in sports year-round and my mother was my basketball and softball coach while growing up. So as the “coach’s kid”, there were already high expectations, and I did whatever I could to meet or exceed those expectations in sports and in school.

The most dominant sport in my youth was always basketball. Never in a million years did I think I’d be playing women’s tackle football on an international stage, especially in my 40’s. I’ve been playing full contact football for a total of 13 seasons. I currently play defensive end and quarterback for The Toledo Reign located in Toledo, Ohio, which is a part of the Women’s Football Alliance. Currently, there 60+ teams located in the United States in the WFA.

In the fall of 2018, I was selected to play on the East All-Star team in the Las Vegas Hall of Fame Game. Also, I was selected to play for American Football Events USA All-Star team to play in their first-ever women’s Mayan Cancun Bowl against Mexico’s Women All-Star team (Guerreras Jaguars) which took place on March 9, 2019, in Cancun, Mexico. Out of the 400+ women to submit to play for Team USA, only 40 were selected. It wasn’t just exciting to be selected to be one of the first to play for Team USA, but an honor to be selected to represent my country on the football field as a football player and as an Air Force veteran.

One of the most amazing aspects of this team was that 40 strangers came together from different backgrounds, ages, and religions with no egos and with 1 mission, and that was TOGETHER. We put our all on the field and walked away with a victory. And that mission was complete with a 48 to 12 victory! Today those strangers are considered my family.

When it comes to fitness and football; football can be a demanding sport and very hard on the body. I typically work out about 3 to 4 days a week which includes football practice. A lot of my training involves cardio, HIIT, and weight training. During the off-season, I like to hit weights hard. But during the regular season, I don’t hit weights too hard because my body needs to recover from my gameday battles on the field. I believe that in any level of sports, ensuring that you’re healthy and in good shape is key to a successful season.

My training for Team USA involved preparing for a game that would be in hot and humid conditions, unlike preparing for my regular season with Toledo Reign which has typically colder and milder weather due to our season beginning in the spring. I approached my cardio regiment a little different and ensured that I began hydrating weeks before playing in Mexico heat.

I began working at LA Fitness as a personal trainer. During that time, I developed many friendships with coworkers who were also trainers and we would pick each other’s brains about training tips and advice.

During my 2018 season, I had surgery to repair my bicep tendon that I ruptured in a football game. The hard part of being an athlete is not just watching from the sidelines but hearing that you may not never play or do something you love again. My coworker Leo (who is also a personal trainer) at the Warren, MI location was very instrumental in helping me to strengthen my arm back. What my surgeon predicted would take more than 10 months to heal, I was able to get back in 6 months. I was able to play in the Hall of Fame game in Vegas 5 months post-op and for Team USA 8 months post-op.

If I had any advice to give it would be to live loud and have fun while doing it!

Additional team info can be found at:

YouTube link for USA vs. Mexico Women’s football:

Thee Toledo Reign:

  • Coach Mitchi (419)654-2719

Follow Shontelle on Instagram: @CityLeague_Legend 

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Instructor Spotlight | Celebrating 19 Years in the Fitness Industry

Instructor Spotlight | Celebrating 19 Years in the Fitness Industry

“As a former overweight guy, my weight will always be a struggle. I consistently work on my diet and find ways to shock my body.”

Wes F.

Group Fitness Instructor, LA Fitness

Prior to entering the gym, I used to weigh 350 lbs. with a 52-inch waist. My mother and I made a commitment to change and reinvent ourselves every year. I got earrings, tattoos, and new haircuts. Finally, I decided to lose weight.

I was a treadmill and weights guy until I saw a guy teaching a step class. People were piling into the aerobic room just to take his class. I finally got the nerve to try it for the first time. It was the most exhausting thing I had ever done.

I continued to take classes and followed my favorite instructor around town. One day after class, he looked at me and said, “You should start teaching.” At this time, I was down to 280 lbs. and laughed off the idea. I thought people would think that I’m too big to teach classes.

He said, “Wesley, you got it. Don’t worry about the weight, it will continue to come off.” So, I went and got certified through AFAA.  My first class was February 1, 2000.  I am now celebrating 19 years in the Fitness Industry.

Throughout my tenure in teaching, I got certified in over 25 formats, became a certified personal trainer, danced for a ballet company, and became a Master Instructor for several formats. I teach at fundraisers, charities, competitions, and fitness conferences.

As a former overweight guy, my weight will always be a struggle. I consistently work on my diet and find ways to shock my body. Looking at old pictures of myself compared to where I am now, I see miles of maturity and shrinkage. Starting from overweight and untoned to fit and muscular.

As a fitness professional, I tell all my students that Group Fitness classes are just a part of the solution.  Your effort to maintain a steady diet must match the effort you make to attend class, using the LA Fitness quote, “You can’t out train a bad diet.”

For some, teaching Group Fitness classes is easy and simple. However, they underestimate the amount of work it takes to prep for class, keep your class current, and always have the energy to be exciting and motivating.

In my 19 years, I have learned it has to be more than just class. It is about the experience. With that, I stress form and technique, stamina and energy in my classes, while providing the best music and variety of exercise.

For all of my peer instructors, personality and education is everything. If you are not engaging and knowledgeable about teaching, then your class will be bored and lack trust in you.

Classes Taught:

At LA Fitness, I teach Step, Kickboxing, Body Works, Power Circuit, Yoga, Pilates, Aqua Fit, Cardio Jam, Boot Camp, and Cycle.

Current Fitness Goals:

I have become even more focused on my weight training and stretching. I want men and women to see the most successful athletes are people with an equal balance of strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Some slight adjustments may have been made for grammar and/or clarity. 

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