Learn the benefits of lifestyle medicine and implement five practical changes to your routine that can transform your health and wellness.
Lifestyle Medicine For Your Health
The focus of lifestyle medicine is to prevent, treat, and often reverse disease by targeting unhealthy behaviors with evidence-based lifestyle interventions. The goal is to aim for longevity with minimal medications. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), meaning non-infectious diseases, are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States. About 71% of all deaths in the world are due to preventable chronic diseases. (1) We can change behaviors that can decrease the risk of blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, digestive issues, depression, and dementia. Many people with conditions lack physical activity, have poor nutrition, and engage in excessive substance use. (1) However, shifting towards a healthier lifestyle can help prevent and better manage chronic diseases. Start by taking control of your health and communicating your needs with your primary doctor.
5 Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Your Well-Being
- Regular Exercise: Do you struggle to start or maintain a physical activity routine? You are not alone. Create a realistic and practical fitness exercise that caters to your daily routine. Understanding your purpose for exercising will help you stay motivated. Benefits of engaging in physical activity:
- boosts cognition (2)
- sharpens thinking (2)
- improves mental health (2)
- strengthens bones and muscles (2)
- decreases the risk of diseases (2)
- increases your chances of living a fruitful life (2)
The good news is that any intensity, amount, and type of exercise that you choose to engage in will benefit your mind and body as long as you are moving regularly.
- Plant-Rich Diet: The advantages of switching to a plant-based diet are numerous in improving the quality of health. Studies conclude that following a plant-based diet may reduce body fat, promote nutritional balance, decrease the development of chronic illness and cancer, help with inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and improve mood. (3) When deciding to partake in a plant-based diet, it is essential to take a gradual approach. Consult with your physician or a registered dietician for support.
- Sleep Hygiene: Are your sleeping habits inconsistent? Practicing optimal sleeping behaviors such as limiting screen use, avoiding substances before bed (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol), engaging in stress management, exercising regularly, and reducing bedroom noise can help maintain healthy sleep hygiene. (4) It’s important to have a consistent sleep schedule and to have sufficient and quality amounts of sleep. On average, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep. (5) Benefits of sleep:
- improves memory (5)
- increases productivity (5)
- improves energy & mood (5)
- regulates blood sugar (5)
- stabilizes blood pressure (5)
- boosts immune system (5)
- Stress Management: Stress is a normal body response to positive or negative life circumstances. Although stress can sometimes offer benefits, elevated and prolonged levels of stress are detrimental to health. Profound levels of stress impact memory, learning, cognition, and physiological functions. (6) Strategies to reduce stress involve deep breathing, yoga, muscle relaxation, massage therapy, reading, humor, time management, coping skills, and cognitive-behavioral approaches. (7) Guidance from a licensed professional to reduce chronic stress is also recommended.
- Emotional Wellness: Taking care of your emotional wellness is vital for your mental and physical health. A lively mood can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease blood sugar levels, improve weight, and increase longevity. (8) Engage in purposeful activities that bring you joy and value your experiences by practicing mindfulness. (9) Try meditation techniques to promote relaxation and peace. Be in touch with your emotions by acknowledging and releasing feelings. Develop and strengthen connections with others to protect your health and increase your quality of life. (9) Show gratitude to loved ones, friends, and self to increase happiness.
It is never too late to practice healthy lifestyle changes that can benefit your overall health. Progress takes time and patience, and taking one step at a time is best. Having a great support system can make things easier and keep you motivated. Consulting with a medical provider that practices lifestyle medicine can help you develop a personalized treatment plan. Book a FREE meet and greet with me to begin your whole health journey to live a healthier and happy life at www.drlifestyle.org.
- World Health Organization. (n.d.). Noncommunicable diseases. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/noncommunicable-diseases.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 5). Benefits of physical activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm#brain-health.
- Fehér A, Gazdecki M, Véha M, Szakály M, Szakály Z. A Comprehensive Review of the Benefits of and the Barriers to the Switch to a Plant-Based Diet. Sustainability. 2020; 12(10):4136. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104136
- Irish LA, Kline CE, Gunn HE, Buysse DJ, Hall MH. The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep Med Rev. 2015;22:23-36. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2014.10.001
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018, April 4). The benefits of slumber. National Institutes of Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/benefits-slumber.
- Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072. Published 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480
- Ong, L., Linden, W., & Young, S. Stress management: what is it?. Journal of psychosomatic research. 2004; 56(1), 133-137. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00128-4
- Positive emotions and your health. National Institutes of Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/08/positive-emotions-your-health. Published November 1, 2018.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, July 16). Emotional wellness toolkit. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nih.gov/health-information/emotional-wellness-toolkit.