As a health and wellness professional, I truly believe that the services we provide at Performance Health & Fitness are helping our members and our community to be able to have additional tools to help manage and prevent chronic illness and diseases. This doesn’t mean that by implementing a healthy lifestyle you don’t have to go to your annual physical with your primary doctor as that appointment itself is also a preventative tool. There are also genetic factors that contribute to the development of chronic illnesses and disease but in the end, we have more control over our health than we think.

When we don’t feel well or we have an ache or pain our first thought is to go and see our primary care physician to see if they can help us determine what is going on. I agree that this needs to be the first step as they can make sure that it isn’t something too severe that needs immediate attention and they can provide a temporary solution if the issue is causing a debilitating effect on our daily lives. But! If we took a deeper look into our daily habits I bet we could find a habit that needs to change in order to decrease the pain ourselves or see a physical therapist as the pain could be caused by a musculoskeletal issue. The physical therapist can also do the necessary testing to see if the pain is caused by a structural issue to then refer us to get imaging done. Overall, incorporating healthy lifestyle habits on a daily basis helps us to take the best care of our bodies to help decrease doctor visits, decrease the use of prescription medications, and decrease our chance of developing a chronic illness or disease.

According to the National Health Council, 40% of our population is dealing with a chronic illness or disease and some are suffering from multiple. In 2009, 7 out of 10 deaths were caused by a chronic disease and half of those were caused by a stroke, heart disease, or diabetes. Implementing healthy daily habits such as good nutrition, good hydration, daily movement, stress management, and quality sleep allow us to take the best care of our bodies which helps to prevent any dysfunction that can lead to chronic health issues.

Having a holistic view when it comes to your overall health helps us to not only achieve our specific goals but it helps us to flourish from the inside out for the rest of our lives. Increasing longevity and quality of life. For some of us, we may not know what we are doing currently which is greatly hindering our results and our health. A health coach will help you to determine where your strengths and weaknesses are to achieve optimal health. Then based on that initial consultation come up with a step-by-step plan to help you achieve your results and increase your overall well-being.

Resistance training helps our muscles, joints, and bones to stay strong and healthy which helps to prevent osteopenia, osteoporosis, heart failure, decreases insulin resistance, and the need for surgery to replace bad joints. Cardiovascular training helps our cardiopulmonary system to perform at its best and allows these systems to function optimally to prevent stiffness from misuse and helps to increase circulation. Flexibility training helps prevent our bodies from becoming rigid and tight which can lead to injury or surgery. Any type of exercise ultimately helps to prevent chronic disease as we are helping our body to be able to function and perform at its best by continuing to keep it strong and healthy.

Chronic stress can put our systems into overdrive which can lead to dysfunction and keeps our cortisol levels high so that it affects our sleep at night. Neither of these things helps our bodies to be able to rest and digest or to take a breather from everything during the day and decrease our cortisol levels. Proper recovery helps our brain and our body to function at their best. Without recovery, we risk increasing our chance of obesity, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary diseases, decreases in our mental health, and causing dysfunction in our body.

If you are dealing with chronic pain ask your physician if it would be beneficial to utilize physical therapy to see if there are any musculoskeletal issues that are causing the pain or they may be able to help direct you to someone that can look deeper to make sure it isn’t something structural. Chronic pain can be caused by a limited range of motion in a joint or a certain muscle that isn’t firing normally which is causing overcompensation from other muscles causing injury. Pain doesn’t have to be endured and most of the time doesn’t go away on its own. Finding the root cause of the pain can be very beneficial to work alongside any pain management your physician suggests. Utilizing some soft tissue work and strengthening the weak muscles can work wonders. Sometimes if a physical therapist can help determine the root cause of the pain then pain medications may be unnecessary.

By looking at your daily lifestyle along with all the systems in your body as a whole to help determine what the root cause of your chronic illness or disease could be is the definition of Functional Medicine. By starting off with changing your lifestyle habits it can help health professionals to determine the next step in the treatment process whether that be physical therapy, psychotherapy, dry needling, strength training, nutrition therapy, or any other functional medicine practice before settling on prescription medications or surgery as a last resort. “Food and Exercise is the best medicine.”

By implementing a healthy lifestyle you can help yourself to decrease the number of doctor’s visits and out-of-pocket costs of the constant use of prescription medications or hospitalizations. A common diabetic medication, Lantus, has gone up 24% over the past 6 years from $408 to $505. Xarelto, a blood clot medication, has gone up over 54% in the past 6 years from $357 to $550. An EpiPen which most households have in case of emergency has increased 52% over the past 6 years from $458 to $697. The point of showcasing these numbers is that the price of prescription medications is continuing to rise and won’t be going away with the high demand of consumers. As an additional treatment plan if you were to utilize preventative tools that a health coach can help you to live a healthier lifestyle which then helps to reduce out-of-pocket costs, wouldn’t you want to try?

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