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Joe Montana Tips on Blood Pressure Control

As quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Joe Montana guided his team to four Super Bowl championships in the 1980s, winning a place as one of the greatest football players who ever competed in the sport. An exemplar of grace and poise under pressure, Montana time and again led San Francisco to victory with his late-game heroics, throwing the ball to brilliant receivers like Jerry Rice and John Taylor.

The former field general is now battling a different kind of opponent: high blood pressure. And this one can’t be defeated by dodging tacklers or tossing touchdown passes to Rice and Taylor.

The 49-year-old Hall-of-Famer learned about his hypertension on a visit to the doctor four years ago. Since then, he has improved his eating habits (not easy for this lover of fried food) and is devoted to his exercise routine—something that had slipped after his retirement from pro football.

Since 2003, Montana has teamed up with Harvard-trained cardiologist James Rippe, MD, in a public education campaign to make people more aware of the dangers of hypertension and the steps they can take to combat the problem. Called Take the Pressure Off…With Better Blood Pressure Control, the program is sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, makers of the anti-hypertensive medication Lotrel. The drug, along with exercise and healthier eating, has helped Montana lower his blood pressure.

Montana is a longtime San Francisco Bay Area resident who currently lives in the wine country of Napa Valley, California. The father of four recently sat down for an interview with ABILITY Magazine’s editor-in-chief Chet Cooper and senior health editor Gillian Friedman, MD.

Chet Cooper: What have you been doing since you retired…from the Lakers, right?

Joe Montana: (laughs) Yeah, I played with Shaq.

Gillian Friedman, MD: (laughs) Okay, what have you been doing since retiring from football?

Montana: I’ve started a little investment business out of my house. I do some real estate entitlement properties—I take properties and flip them.

Cooper: Does that hurt your back at all?

Montana: When I flip them? (laughs) No, I try to bend my knees a little!

Friedman: (laughs) Speaking of your knees—especially since exercise is a big part of controlling high blood pressure—how does your knee injury from your football days affect the type of exercise you can do now?

Montana: Well, if my knee didn’t bother me I wouldn’t have an exercise issue, because I love basketball. I could play basketball all day long, but my knee just won’t allow me to do it.

Cooper: What do you do for exercise?

Montana: Basically, I go between three exercise machines—the stairmaster, the stationary bike and the treadmill. With my blood pressure, I’ve really ramped up my exercise routine. I used to exercise once or twice a week, but now I try to get in seven days a week. I don’t just aim for 30 minutes—I try to get a full hour.

Cooper: Has your eating changed since you found out about your high blood pressure?

Montana: Yes, it has, but it’s probably not what everybody imagines. I hate the word diet—we all hate it when someone tells us we’re going to have to diet. I’ve found it works best if I just do things in moderation.

For example, I still like red meat, salt, potato chips and pizza, but I know I can’t eat that stuff every day. During the day I’ll try to eat a pretty healthy diet. For instance, this morning I had Ensure because I don’t like to have a lot for breakfast. Then at lunch I try to stick with something light. My daughter got me started on these vegetarian half-sandwiches—toasted bread stacked with tomatoes, pickles, onions, avocado and then a piece of lettuce on the top.

Friedman: Sounds good—you’re getting me hungry!

Montana: Before, I never thought I could get away with such a light meal, but I’ve found that as long as I’m keeping busy, that’s more than enough food to satisfy me. If I’m idle, though, I have a more difficult time.

At night I allow myself a normal dinner, but then I try not to eat anything else afterward except a protein shake. I started the protein shakes a couple of years ago when I did a bathing suit photo shoot with my wife for Sports Illustrated—they had couples doing it. My wife is in tremendous shape—she’s one of those lucky women who had four kids and looks like she never had any. She’s got a washboard stomach. But I had a lot of work to do! So a bodybuilder friend of mine said, “No matter what you do, don’t ever miss the egg protein shake at night. You can skip other things but don’t miss that because it helps your metabolism.” So that’s about the only thing I’ll have after dinner.

Cooper: What about salt?

Montana: It’s really hard for me not to eat salt. My kids move the salt shaker away from me, so they’ve been a big help.

Friedman: How did you first find out your blood pressure was a problem?.....Continued in ABILITY Magazine

foreword by Paul Sterman

ABILITY Magazine
Other articles in the Marlee Matlin issue include Letter from the Editor Hidden Disability; Senator Harkin Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act; Headlines Stroke Rehab, JAN and Web Accessibility, IBM and Technology Innovators; Humor Reality Check and Pet Peeves; Deaf Community — Vibrant and Strong; Assistive Technology CSUN Conference; Casting a Broader Net Performing Arts Studio West; Memoirs to Our Stars Jane Wollman Rusoff; Recipes Fruity Delights; Shall We Overcome A United Community; There is Room at the Inn Book Review; Once Upon a Sign Sign Language for Tots; Events and Conferences...subscribe

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Marlee Matlin — From Children of a Lesser God to Godmother

Linda Dano — Depression is Another World

Joe Montana Tips on Blood Pressure Control

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