Lifestyle Medicine for Chronic Disease

What is lifestyle medicine for chronic disease? And how might it help or apply to your circumstances?

Picture of healthy diet to reflect healthy behaviors that can improve physical health with chronic conditions.
Photo by Ella Olsson on

During a health crisis, we often try to address physical suffering first. This might include traditional medicine and science. For example, working with your doctors. Taking medications. Undergoing surgery. Participating in therapy. You work with a healthcare professional and follow their instructions or guidance.

But what if you could feel even more empowered to make choices that directly improve your health? The truth is, you can play an important role in your own physical relief. The behaviors you choose can contribute to your physical well-being. In other words, you have some control over your physical health when living with a chronic condition or disease.

Behaviors to Improve Physical Health

Lifestyle medicine for chronic disease is a growing specialty in healthcare. It emphasizes the patient’s role in their own health. So, what is exactly lifestyle medicine? One definition describes it as:

“the evidence-based practice of helping individuals and families adopt and sustain healthy behaviors that affect health and quality of life.”

American College of Lifestyle Medicine

Examples of healthy behaviors include things like stopping smoking. Making good food choices. Also, increasing physical activity and limiting alcohol consumption.

Lifestyle medicine is essentially a prescription for how to use food and behaviors to improve health. This is true if you are trying to prevent health problems in the future. But Lifestyle Medicine can also help you manage, and in some cases even reverse, chronic disease.

This is empowering! At the core of most chronic disease is physical suffering. Medications, therapy, and surgeries may help. But as important is what you choose to eat. How active you choose to be. And what behaviors you choose to engage in. Your lifestyle choices can positively affect your health and relieve physical suffering.

Physical Suffering

Why is it important to relieve physical suffering where possible?

Let’s look at the far-reaching affects of physical suffering again. Chronic conditions or diseases usually begin with physical signs and symptoms. Over time, as symptoms persist or do not go away, other areas of life begin to suffer as well. For instance, you may become stressed, anxious about your health, or frustrated. This leads to poor mental health. Also, lack of sleep, mental fatigue, constant pain, or sexual dysfunction can strain relationships. You may feel lonely in your new normal. Or question the meaning of your life during difficult circumstances. So, you may struggle to find peace. And the financial cost of managing a chronic condition can be steep.

Therefore, physical suffering often leads to suffering in other areas of our health. So, if you can relieve physical suffering, even a little, how would that change your life?

Final Thoughts

Imagine if your physical health wasn’t hopeless. What if you have more control in your physical health than you think right now? Lifestyle Medicine reflects a growing mindset that you play as big a role in your health as your doctor. What you eat and the choices you make can have a significant impact on your total health, well-being, and quality of life.

So, if you want to play a more active role in managing your physical health, what you can you do? Work with your doctor and family to create a diet that works for you. Consult with a physical therapist or trainer on how to start an appropriate exercise program. Explore ways to stop smoking or get better sleep.

If you need help organizing your thoughts or strategies, consider wellness coaching. Together we can work together to brainstorm strategies that fit your interests, abilities, and circumstances. And stay tuned to my next blog where we explore physical health and chronic conditions more.

Disclaimer: This blog is a resource through which you may obtain information regarding your health and wellness.  Information is intended for the general reader and is not a substitute for medical advice.  The content in this blog is intended to be informational only and not interpreted as specific advice for you.  There may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in information contained in this blog. You should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional who is familiar with your health and past medical history before making any changes you may read about in this blog.

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