Sleep longer! Exercise! Eat more vegetables! Every day we’re given more tasks to improve our health. But it’s hard to make these habits on our own.
Having a partner can help. That’s why more people are turning to health coaches. According to Research and Markets, it was a $7 billion industry in 2020.
Health coaches are members of the healthcare industry. They combine training in the science of behavior change with coaching skills.
Health coaching can be done by nurses, physical therapists, medical assistants, or community health workers. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) even offers a health coaching certification.
Coaches help you make healthy lifestyle changes by creating a personalized action plan. A good plan takes your emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, and job needs into account.
Health coaches also provide accountability via one-on-one support sessions. They can connect their clients with group support and other resources like social workers.
Who benefits from health coaching
Research shows health coaching can be helpful for people with health conditions.
For example, one study found that working with a health coach for 6 months helped people with type 2 diabetes better manage their condition.
Another study showed that health coaching helped lower hospital visits for lung disease. It also improved the quality of life in patients.
People are taking notice. Some health providers, for example, now refer their patients to coaches. Health coaching is also part of some workplace wellness programs and insurance plans.
You may also benefit from health coaching if you’re simply looking to exercise more, sleep better, reduce stress, or eat healthier.
How to find a health coach
The “right” coach for you will be able to support you on your health journey. Here’s a checklist to get you started.
- Write down your goals. Are you dealing with a disease? Trying to quit smoking or improve your fitness habits? Curious about what diet is best or how to reduce stress?
- Get referrals. Ask a friend, social worker, psychologist, nurse, or other health care provider for recommendations. Some coaches offer complimentary consultations. Meet with multiple coaches until you find the right one.
- Ask for credentials. Health coaching is a pretty new field and largely unregulated. However, there are reputable programs that train and certify health coaches. Some to look for include: The American Council on Exercise, Duke Integrative Medicine, The National Society of Health Coaches, and Wellcoaches School of Coaching.
- Check for coverage. Find out if your insurance plan covers health coaching before making an appointment. If not, be prepared to pay out-of-pocket. Most coaches have their fees listed on their websites.