DEAR HARRIETTE: My family has a history of hypertension and high blood pressure. I recently went to the doctor for my annual checkup, and she was pleased with my overall physical health; however, she told me that my blood pressure was a bit high for her liking. My doctor told me that I would need to add an exercise regimen to help reduce my blood pressure. How do I fit an exercise regimen into an already busy schedule? -- Releasing the Pressure, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR RELEASING THE PRESSURE: Health challenges such as yours present the requirement of a lifestyle change in order for you to stay healthy -- or even alive. Yes, this may seem daunting, but it is true. High blood pressure is called "the silent killer" because it commonly has minimal side effects, yet it can and has caused strokes in thousands of unknowing victims. Doctors do suggest that exercise, healthy eating and weight loss can significantly reduce or even eliminate high blood pressure -- in some people. Even if high blood pressure doesn't go away, these things are good for you.
Will it be hard to add daily movement into a tight schedule that did not previously include physical activity? Sure. You have to decide that your life is worth it. Once you do, get support by joining a walking group, a gym, Weight Watchers or some other group activity that will keep you honest about your developing routine. Reduce your sodium intake, cut out the alcohol, shy away from fatty foods and put the kibosh on stress. Easier said than done, I know, but if you put yourself first, you create a chance to live the life you envision for yourself. You can do it!