“I see Lifestyle Medicine as

integral to the way we

deliver care to our patients” 

“Those who don’t make time for exercise will eventually have to make time for illness”

– Edward Stanley

What is Lifestyle Medicine?

Lifestyle Medicine is an evidence-based approach to preventing and treating disease by focusing on creating healthy lifestyle habits including regular physical activity, healthy eating, adequate sleep, managing stress and building healthy relationships and support systems.

I work as a GP in the NHS and I am a strong believer in  the importance of prioritising conversations about lifestyle with our patients and supporting them in using lifestyle interventions to prevent and treat lifestyle related chronic disease including obesity, diabetes and mental health problems.  

The choices we make matter. Everyday habits and behaviours, such as eating an excess of unhealthy food, drinking too much alcohol, continuing to smoke and not being physically active, are responsible for around 40% of all deaths in England, and cost the NHS more than £11 billion a year (Public Health England). The NHS has a critical role in treating illness and in keeping people well, but to help make the NHS sustainable for future generations, as clinicians we can play a role by being more proactive about supporting our patients to make positive lifestyle changes. 

“Lifestyle Medicine” is nothing new. Neither is it complex or fancy. It is not the same as complementary or alternative medicine. Ironic that it has the word medicine in it as it offers an alternative way to preventing ill health and managing existing disease without an over reliance on medicines. Medicines play an important role in chronic disease  and can be life saving, but I can’t help thinking that they are often used as a sticking plaster, rather than addressing the root cause of symptoms and disease.  If making changes to our lifestyles was easy, then we would all be living the healthiest lives we could. It would be naive to believe that this is all that it takes.  It’s not easy to break habits and create new healthy behaviours and the psychology of  our habits, alongside environmental and social factors  add complexity and challenge.   Not to mention, the limited time we have with our patients in general practice  ( 10 minutes)  and the lack of training on nutrition and physical activity.  These challenges certainly don’t put me off  using  a Lifestyle Medicine approach in my clinical practice. 

Lifestyle medicine is seen by some as an adjunct form of treatment- an extra to what we are already offering our patients. I hope that one day it won’t even need a separate title, it will be integral to the way we deliver care to our patients, bridging  the best aspects of public health and conventional clinical medicine.  This requires a shift in the way we approach health and disease. There may be challenges ahead but I believe the change is coming and I am excited to be part of the Lifestyle Medicine movement!

Where can I learn how to use Lifestyle Medicine in my own life?

Book recommendation:

The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life  by Dr Rangan Chaterjee. This book has easily digestible information on how to make simple easy changes to your lifestyle. I recommend this to both my colleagues and patients!

Recipe books:

Mindfulness and meditation:

Health Coaching:

Work with a health coach who can support you in making positive changes in your life and creating the healthy lifestyle you want.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HEALTH COACHING

I’m a doctor/ healthcare professional/ medical student- how do I learn more?