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Join me for the Go Red, Get Fit challenge

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Heart Month is here. It is also the start of the Go Red, Get Fit Challenge- a committment to heart healthy living for the entire month of February.

Since my big 50th birthday is just days away, I'm taking the challenge. I decided to ask my own doctor what I should be doing.

While not my favorite thing, hitting the scale at the doctor's office before the start of this challenge is important.

When it comes to heart disease prevention, my cardiologist, Dr. Frank Tilli, says, it's a key factor, "Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, and that's why we talk about things such as the BMI, the body mass index."

A BMI over 25 is considered overweight, and over 29 is obese.

Dr. Tilli, of Genesys Heart Institute, recommends I lose 30 pounds. It's a tall order, that will take longer than a month.

However, one thing that may get better in no time is my heart rate. As I become more fit, my resting heart rate should drop.

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.

"We say 30 minutes, meaning about 5 minutes of time to warm up, about 20 minutes where you're actually giving a good effort and you get your heart rate in a nice target range, and then 5 minutes to cool off," Dr. Tilli explains.

When it comes to heart health, Tilli stresses, the right type of exercisie is key, "I'm all for lifting weights, within reason and toning your muscle and keeping your body in shape but, the truth of the matter is, the cardiovascular, the aerobic exercise is what really is going to benefit your heart."

Of course, increasing exercise will help you lose weight, but the key ingredient for weight loss is what you eat- your diet.

"What I suggest for all of us- you, me, everybody- is what the experts recommend," Tilli says, "And they point to the Mediterranean diet. "

Eating a diet extra heavy on fruits and veggies, with lean meats and whole grains will also help lower blood pressure.

"Uncontrolled blood pressure not only increases your risk of heart attack in stroke, particularly in women, higher blood pressure can increase the risk even more so than it can in men," Dr. Tilli cautions me.

A year ago, my blood pressure was through the roof. It's why I first visited Dr. Tilli. I am taking blood pressure medicine, which has helped, but what I want to know is, will making these recommended lifestlye changes and losing the weight get me off the pills?

"We can maybe avoid escalating therapy in the future. So, we may be able to get you to a lower dose. It'd be great if we could get you off completely, but there's no guaranty that can happen. And, traditionally, as people age, their blood pressures do rise."

I am going to hold out hope for a blood pressure prescription free life.

Meanwhile, to make this Go Red, Get Fit challenge even better, I am asking you to join me.

I will be tracking my progress all month, through Go Red, Get Fit event on social media, on the FOX66 AND NBC25 TODAY shows.

We'll also have information about the Heart Association's Go Red, Get Fit challenge right here, on our website.

Make sure you stop by my Leslie Toldo facebook page and on Twitter, @leslietoldo, for daily updates.

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