If you have resolved to improved your health in 2024, you’re not alone. A study by Forbes Health revealed that being more fit and active are among the most common resolutions. How we achieve these goals is a matter of changing our daily habits, a core principle of Lifestyle Medicine.

A new approach to primary care

Lifestyle Medicine emphasizes making healthy lifestyle choices to prevent and treat chronic health conditions. Studies show that diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease respond positively to changes in the daily choices we make regarding diet, fitness, and sleep. Clinicians who practice Lifestyle Medicine may prescribe changes to diet or activity instead of or in addition to medication. Sufficient changes to a patient’s daily routine may even diminish conditions that have been passed down from one generation to the next.

The six pillars of Lifestyle Medicine

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine has identified six categories, or pillars, of good health:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Social connection
  • Stress management
  • Avoidance of risky substances

Each pillar is a lens through which daily activities can be assessed. Every patient had their own challenges. One patient may eat well, but not get enough sleep. Another may have great social connections but consume too much alcohol.

Kinwell clinicians can sort fad from science and guide patients toward healthier habits. They identify which pillars to focus on and provide custom lifestyle prescriptions. Kinwell patients can work with a health coach to create a plan for gradual or significant changes to their daily routine. Health coaching is free for established patients.

Lifestyle Medicine and traditional primary care

Lifestyle changes can be used alone or in conjunction with traditional medical therapies to treat and prevent disease. Implementing healthy habits can reduce the need for expensive healthcare services, hospitalizations, and medications.

Most importantly, healthy habits can improve a patient’s quality of life. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine has recommendations on each health pillar. [Note: these may link to a PDF with more information on LM.]

  1. Nutrition: Decrease meat, processed and fast foods, and refined sugar by choosing whole plant foods that are fiber-filled and nutrient-dense. Drink plenty of water to quench your thirst.
  1. Physical activity: Spend less time sitting by building more activity into your day. Park farther away to encourage walking. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Increase activity slowly, with a goal of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week.
  1. Stress management: Distance yourself from stressful situations by taking time for fun, hobbies, and other activities you enjoy. Try meditation, yoga, dance, gardening, or spending time in nature.
  1. Restorative sleep: Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. To help fall asleep, avoid caffeine (especially after noon), get at least 20 minutes of sunshine during the day, and develop an evening relaxation routine.
  1. Avoidance of risky substances: Risky substance use can increase the risk of many cancers and heart disease. Reduce or eliminate smoking, vaping, and alcohol intake by substituting other relaxing activities. A free resource to help you quit smoking is 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  1. Social connectedness: Social connectedness is essential to emotional resiliency. Spend time with friends and family who lift your spirits. Set regular times to engage with others.

Want to change your daily routine? Kinwell is here to help. Make an appointment with your Kinwell clinician to discuss how lifestyle changes can prevent and reverse disease and increase overall well-being. Schedule a visit through your MyChart account or call 833-411-5469.