Open Accessibility Menu

How to Improve Heart Health Outside of Diet and Exercise

How to Improve Heart Health Outside of Diet and Exercise

February is National Heart Month – heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. With that in mind, with sat down with Dr. Rohn Rigby to ask him what factors influence heart health (outside of diet and exercise).

Q: What are the main factors that are affecting weight loss and heart health, besides diet and exercise?

A: There are several pillars, outside of diet and exercise, which I focus on: stress, sleep, gut health, and social environment.

Q: How does stress affect our health?

A: We live in a stressful world. Negative stress can affect our bodies in lots of different ways. On a chemical level, negative stress tends to push sugar into our bloodstream. Over time, chronic stress can lead to weight gain and, eventually, heart problems. If you are wrestling with chronic stress, it’s a good idea to consider working with a therapist or finding other ways to restructure your habits in such a way as to help you reduce your stress.

Q: How important is it to get good quality sleep?

A: Regarding sleep, quality is always more important than quantity. It’s critical to focus on your sleep hygiene so that you can maximize your time spent in REM. If you wake up feeling well-rested, then you’re less likely to reach for that sugary treat to help you stay alert. If you improve your sleep hygiene and still find yourself having trouble sleeping, consider speaking with your doctor.

Q: What is gut health?

A: A lot of research today is looking at gut health. The lining of your large and small intestines contains a lot of good bacteria that help your body break down and absorb nutrients in your food. Each person’s gut microbiome is unique and it plays a key role in a person’s propensity to become overweight and eventually develop heart problems.

Keep in mind that gut health is not necessarily the first factor we look at regarding obesity and heart health. However, it can play a critical role. It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor about your gut health – in some cases, a probiotic can be prescribed that may help you in your weight loss journey.

Q: How can your social environment affect your heart health?

A: Your social environment can affect you, really, in every aspect of your life. It’s so important to keep a positive social environment – friends, and family that helps encourage you to do what you need to do to keep your body and your heart healthy.

Dr. Rohn Rigby

Along with his practice as a family medicine doctor, Dr. Rohn Rigby is certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine in medical weight loss. He specializes in helping overweight and obese patients reduce their BMI and live healthier lifestyles. Dr. Rigby believes that there are many factors that attribute to successful weight loss and creates tailored plans according to each patient’s unique needs.