How would your life be different if you had a guide giving you the right tools for success to reach your wellness goals, and supporting you along the way?
That's exactly what health coaching offers, and although it's not a new concept, it's gaining popularity with those who want to maximize the success of their health and fitness goals. In fact, predictions say the health coaching market will hit over $25.95 billion by 2030.
Whether you want to ditch unhealthy eating habits or start a new fitness routine, if you're curious about health coaching, here's what to know about the science-backed benefits.
What Is Health Coaching?
Health coaching uses psychological and motivational strategies to help people reach their goals. That includes providing the tools, skills, and knowledge to support behavior change and form health-promoting habits. Because what good is having a destination without the roadmap to get you there?
"Many health coaches have a more advanced understanding of working to improve mindset and motivation around health and behavior change to a greater degree than most healthcare professionals," says Lifeforce Clinical Advisor Ryan Greene, DO, MS, and Co-Founder and Medical Director at Monarch Athletic Club. This is why the Lifeforce Membership includes one-on-one health coaching in addition to quarterly blood testing and expert clinical support to help members optimize their body, hormones, and overall health.
Although there are various types of health coaches out there, Lifeforce Health Coaches have experience, education, and/or certifications in health coaching, and receive training on tactics like motivational interviewing and active listening to drive behavior change and help people reach their goals. Many also have expertise or advanced training in exercise science and integrative nutrition, among others. Lifeforce Health Coaches work together with Lifeforce Physicians to put members’ personalized plans into action. Coaching sessions — which can happen over text or email — include everything from goal setting, to education, to accountability check-ins.
"The average primary care visit is typically around seven to 10 minutes of face-to-face time, which makes connection and meaningful change in terms of lifestyle and behavior a bit more difficult," says Dr. Greene. Lifeforce telehealth visits (which average 30 minutes) are three times as long, however working with a health coach is still key to get maximum support, motivation, and personalized strategies for success.
"Health coaches truly allow individuals to succeed, achieve their goals, and sustain them," says Lifeforce Physician Renae Thomas, MD, MPH. Here's more information on exactly how working with a health coach can be beneficial, according to science.
1. Improves Your Nutrition
One of the greatest benefits of working with a health coach is improving your diet. Researchers looked at 11 different trials and found that people who had a virtual health coach ate more fruits and vegetables and less unhealthy fats than those without one. Plus, those dietary changes are associated with other benefits, such as weight loss (more on that below).
2. Helps You Move More
Making movement part of your daily routine is something that health coaching can also improve. Research looking at 27 studies on people over 60 found that working with a health coach increased their physical activity. Another report on the effectiveness of health coaching found that individuals with health coaches log higher step counts and minutes of physical activity compared to those without health coaches.
3. Can Help With Weight Loss
Working towards a weight loss goal with a health coach is a different experience from just strictly following a specific diet, which is what makes it so effective. One study found that those who worked with a professional health coach lost more than 9% of their body weight over 24 weeks.
Another clinical trial on 415 people also found that those who met with a health coach virtually or in person lost significantly more weight than those who went about their weight loss solo. Similar results were also found on research conducted over a two-year period, which points to health coaching as a potentially long-term weight loss tool.
4. Improves Overall Quality of Life, Health, and Medical Care
The mental and physical benefits of working with a health coach can improve your quality of life, health, and medical care in more ways than one.
Studies on the effectiveness of health coaching found that coaching may help support many health factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, fasting glucose, and sleep hygiene, all of which can improve your quality of life. Not to mention, additional research also points to mental health benefits, too.
Taking good care of your overall health with the support of a coach has other positive ripple effects as well. Research on more than 1,000 people found that those with health coaches reduced their healthcare costs and saved as much as $412 per month.
5. Holds You Accountable
Consistency is key when it comes to sustaining any healthy lifestyle changes. According to Dr. Greene and Dr. Thomas, you can significantly increase the chances of sticking to those changes when working with supportive health coaches who hold you accountable.
"First-line medical treatment for many of our most common and chronic diseases and health struggles is lifestyle change, but change can be hard," Dr. Thomas says. In fact, some research has found that only 46% of people who resolve to complete a goal are successful.
Meanwhile, working with a health coach who holds you accountable can make a big difference in reaching your health goals. Studies on people trying to quit smoking found that working with a health coach may increase your chances of successfully quitting by 73%.
6. Helps with Sticking to Routines
Health coaching can help empower people to make decisions about their health and take steps toward implementing positive change. One study found that after 12 weeks of coaching, folks improved their healthy eating behaviors and goal-setting skills by learning to adopt healthier behaviors.
"I find the health coach fills in the essential gap between my recommendations for lifestyle change, and the critical resources, tools, encouragement, and support needed for implementation of them by the patient, especially long term," Dr. Thomas says.
While physician visits are often focused on reviewing lab reports, answering medical questions, or ordering more tests, health coaches can spend an entire session exploring things like goal setting and tactical ways to reach their goals. The Lifeforce Membership offers both clinical support and health coaching to ensure that each member has everything they need to achieve lasting results.
Health fads and crash diets may come and go, but health coaching gives people tools and techniques they can always count on. Think of working with a health coach as an investment that pays dividends into your wellness bank account.
Ready to find a health coach to help you reach goals? For a limited time, get $50 off our best-selling Diagnostic plus $60 off your first three months of Membership (which includes one-on-one health coaching). Head HERE to learn more.
This article was medically reviewed by:
Ryan Greene, DO, MS, Board Eligible Integrative and Preventive Medicine Specialist
Renae Thomas, MD, MPH; ABFM Board Certified in Family Medicine, ABPM Board Certified in Public Health, & General Preventive Medicine; ABLM Board Certified in Lifestyle Medicine
Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism