23May
By: Sara Gustafson Last Updated: March 15, 2017

Overweight woman training with personal trainer

Over the last 50 years we have seen a significant rise in autoimmune disease, food and environmental allergies, diabetes, and obesity. And while our medical industry continues to advance scientifically and in technology, the time doctors can devote to teaching their patients about healthy lifestyles and nutrition is still minimal at best. Doctors work primarily to identify and treat the symptoms, and they may offer patients advice on changing their diet along with a prescription (if needed) but after a couple of appointments there’s only so much a general practitioner can do. They do not have the time or bandwidth to really work with their patients on developing goals and making changes. This is where doctors are starting to look towards health coaches to supplement their care for patients.

Personal Touch

Health coaches step in and help where doctors are unable to, providing patients with specific goals to work on, recipes and diet guidelines, exercises and lifestyle management tools to help reduce the stress that could be contributing to their disease or illness. Health coaches are able to follow up with patients sometimes on a weekly basis to help them stay on track and answer any questions or concerns without the long wait to get another appointment. These types of coaches are a huge benefit to doctors who are looking outside the box to increase the number of patients who succeed in treatment and improve their quality of life through education and support.

Studies on the Rise

A study that examined the effects of the health coaching add-on care showed improved cholesterol numbers in patients compared to those who only received care from a physician. Another study performed last year in the UK showed that health coaching improves the management of chronic diseases. They observed that patients felt more motivated and closely supported to work towards their health goals with the addition of having a health coach.

In a study looking at the relationship between health coaches and low-income patients with Type 2 Diabetes, they were able to discover that the patients who received additional support from a health coach reduced their HbA1c levels by 1.07% verses o.3% in those who only received care from their primary physician. More studies need to be done on the positive affects of health coaches in a variety of areas, but the conclusions that are being found already point to the obvious, increasing worth of health coaches amongst many practices and organizations.

Beyond the Doctor’s Office

Doctors and their patients aren’t the only ones recognizing the assets of a health coach. Gyms, insurance companies, corporate wellness programs, schools, university athletic departments and even professional sports teams and olympic trainers are seeking out peer health coaches to supplement their client and athlete programs. Health coaches are sought out as mentors to help guide, empower, support and motivate individuals to implement and sustain lifestyle and behavioral changes in order to achieve their health, fitness and athletic goals.

Personalized Care Leads to More Success

Every individual, whether a patient with chronic illness or an elite athlete, is different. Not one person is the same and therefore requires an individualized approach. This is a unique gift that health coaches can provide for anyone they work with. Health coaches are able to tailor nutritional guidelines, exercise programs, stress management tools and lifestyle programs to each person based on their bio-individual needs. They can offer more in terms of a personal approach that doctors and physicians simply cannot match. They get to know the person and apply everything they learn about their health, physical needs, environment and lifestyle to design attainable goals and motivate them along the way. Whereas physicians generally look at family health history combined with current health symptoms to pinpoint the problem and offer medication when necessary. Health coaches go beyond the prescription notepad and help to educate patients along the way, which in the longterm helps each individual become more qualified and confident in managing their healthcare. This, in turn, also improves the patient-doctor relationship by improving open communication. When a person becomes enlightened about their own health and fitness and puts that into practice with the help of a health coach, they are better able to discuss treatments, symptoms and concerns with their physicians.

Health coaching is a booming trend that doesn’t show evidence of burn-out. As more and more people report the benefits of working with health coaches, the more they will be sought out. This is a profession experiencing a sharp rise and it will only continue upwards from here.

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