Lifestyle Medicine: Some companies go beyond wellness to embrace a new prescription for health
The term “medicine” calls to mind pills, injections, and visits to the pharmacist. But what if the most effective treatment can’t be written on a prescription pad?
Lifestyle medicine is an approach to health and healthcare that has gotten tons of press recently. But unlike some health trends, it has a lot of science behind it – which has health-conscious companies paying attention.
What is lifestyle medicine?
Simply put, lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based approach to preventing, treating and even reversing diseases by replacing unhealthy behaviors with positive ones, such as:
- Eating healthfully
- Being physically active
- Managing stress
- Avoiding risky substance abuse
- Getting adequate sleep
- Having a strong support system
Like the name implies, lifestyle medicine is used to address common, chronic diseases related to unhealthy behaviors.
Is lifestyle medicine the same thing as a wellness program?
Lifestyle medicine is a specific type of wellness that is promoted by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine in collaboration with the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine. It is looked upon favorably by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Both lifestyle medicine programs and employee wellness programs use scientific evidence to help people make lifestyle changes to improve their health.
How common is lifestyle medicine?
While more providers and patients are embracing lifestyle medicine to treat certain preventable chronic diseases, it is still not very common. Most physicians simply aren’t trained to educate their patients about lifestyle changes, even though the small choices people make every day impact their health dramatically. People are much more aware of how their lifestyles impact their health today than in the past. But there is still a long way to go before everyone has access to a provider who practices lifestyle medicine.
At Premise Health, we see lifestyle medicine as central to our delivery of healthcare. We have more medical professionals who are formally trained and certified in lifestyle medicine than any other single healthcare provider, and we’re collaborating with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to develop training in its core competencies to be available to all our providers. In addition, we require training in incorporating behavior change skills into conversations with our members, regardless of the type of service or professional. We’re committed to training our providers about lifestyle medicine, so they can bring this approach to our members.
What can companies do to encourage healthier workplaces and lifestyles?
Some innovative organizations have embraced lifestyle medicine to help their people stay healthier. We’ve worked with clients to offer plant-based cooking classes, personal training, and other lifestyle medicine approaches proven to help people change their habits.
Other organizations have taken smaller, but still important steps to promote health in the workplace. Examples include:
- Stocking vending machines with healthier choices
- Choosing lean proteins and vegetables for catered meetings, instead of standards like donuts and wraps
- Inviting local fitness instructors to hold classes onsite
Sponsoring employees in local team sports, like soccer or softball
People spend much of their day at work, which means that companies who prioritize health can have a big impact.
Is lifestyle medicine the future?
Medication and surgical therapies will always be an important part of healthcare. But we think that lifestyle is the future of prevention and treatment for many chronic, preventable diseases.
The executive director of the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine, Stephan Herzog, says it best:
“Gone are the days of diagnosing the ill, prescribing the pill, and sending the bill, which has worked so well in combating communicable disease. [That approach] is hopelessly inadequate in the fight against chronic disease.”
We couldn’t agree more. It’s time to pioneer a new path, and lifestyle medicine is one part of that.
Where Premise Health Fits In
Changing unhealthy behaviors and making better choices is foundational to Premise Health’s approach to medical care, disease prevention, and health promotion. That’s why our lifestyle medicine program focuses on managing diet, sleep, stress, physical activity, and relationships, to take healthy living to a whole new level.
With lifestyle medicine services, our clients have a supportive team by their side to guide their employees on a holistic path to better health.
If you’re in charge of health at your organization, let us know how access to primary care affects your people. Get in touch – we value your questions and feedback.