It’s National Heart Month!  The American Heart Association recommends what they call “Life’s Simple Seven” for optimal heart maintenance.  We’re going to go into exactly what those seven things are and what you can do to get your heart going, which as it happens, is number 3.

  1. Lose Weight/Maintain Healthy Weight:  This one is easier said than done. Always be sure to think of weight loss as an added benefit of eating healthier foods and living a more active lifestyle.  It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.  Start by making small changes! For instance, if you drink 6 sodas a day try to only drink 4 sodas for the next week. Then 3 sodas a day for the next week. Then get the idea.  These changes will add up in no time and you won’t feel overwhelmed by your goal. Losing weight is a gradual process. If you fall off the wagon one night, don’t beat yourself up, you’re human, get back on track with the next meal.


  2. Better Food:  Food is mainly fast these days.  Processed and pre-packaged.  Eating better first starts with preparing your food at home with quality ingredients.  I know what you're saying...I can’t afford organic! There are ways to intermingle Organic into your diet without breaking the bank. You will find meal planning to be a lifesaver! Not only to prevent you from grabbing that chocolate bar but also with your food budget.

  3. Get Moving:  Between Juggling work, family, friends, and finding some time to rest in between it’s no wonder most of us are asking “When do I fit exercise in?”.  You’re not alone in this feeling. Again, start off slow, a little is better than none to start off with. Use tricks like parking farther away from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk after dinner etc.  After you’ve gotten used to these small changes keep adding a little more until you’re living the life you want to live.

  4. Blood Pressure:  Understanding and controlling your blood sugar is probably the best thing you can do for your heart. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for stroke, heart attack, and other cardiological diseases.  So what do you do? Check your blood pressure regularly.  Your blood pressure is considered normal, or in the healthy range, if the systolic pressure is lower than 120 and the diastolic pressure is lower than 80, or 120/80. It’s important to work with a medical professional to get it back into a healthy range.

  5. Lower Your Blood Sugar:  Stroke and heart disease are the number one cause of disability and death among people with type 2 diabetes.  If you're at least 45 years old, you should get tested for diabetes, and then you should be tested again every 3 years.  Diabetes is manageable by eating healthier foods (focus on lean meats, veggies, fruit, and complex carbs). You should also focus on exercise, stress management, reducing alcohol consumption and avoiding tobacco products.

  6. Stop Smoking:  Or using any tobacco products for that matter.  Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and is difficult to quit, however, it can and should be done.  Every time nicotine is consumed in any form it raises your blood pressure, which puts more strain on your heart.  The good news is that quitting can make a big impact on your health and have almost immediate benefits.

  7. Control Cholesterol:   Excessive cholesterol can get deposited in your arteries as fatty deposits called plaque, leading restricted and blocked arteries. Eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts. Try to limit red meats, saturated and trans fats. Remember to keep added sugars, sweets and salty foods to a minimum.  Get your exercise in so you can help keep your blood pumping smoothly through your arteries.

Changing your life is a hard task. It will not be easy but you can do it. Take the first step...and then another...and another.

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