Health coaches are often seen as wellness cheerleaders who help you navigate diet, lifestyle, and behavioral changes. You may think health coaching isn’t everything it’s hyped up to be, but science has proven 10 proven benefits of health coaching.
Many Americans are looking for ways to take better control of their health. Whether it’s ditching bad habits, adopting new eating patterns, or simply moving more, there are many ways to improve your health. But it can be hard to make these changes on your own, which is why many people are turning to health coaches.
Health coaches are often seen experts on human behavior, health, and motivation and while they offer a one-on-one experience that can help you navigate difficult diet, lifestyle, and behavioral changes, how can you be sure they are really worth your time and hard-earned money?
What is health coaching?
Health coaching examines wellness by evaluating lifestyle and dietary factors and helping you understand the risks associated with obesity, smoking, stress, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity. Health coaching provides tools and improves your skills, as a result you can implement changes that will last long after your sessions end.
What qualifications should a health coach have?
Anyone can call themselves a health coach–even someone without formal training or education–so you should always look for someone who is credentialed as a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC). Other qualified health professionals (like Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, personal trainers, or other experts) can also work as health coaches.
There are proven benefits of health coaching
Whether you want to lose weight, improve your diet, quit smoking, reduce stress, or feel confident in managing a health condition, health coaches can help you succeed. Here are ten scientifically researched benefits of health coaching.
#1: Health coaching can help you improve your diet.
Health coaches can help you navigate challenging dietary changes and improve your diet. In fact, studies show that people who have a health coach tend to eat more health-boosting fruits and vegetables and less unhealthy fats compared to people who don’t have a coach .
Whether you want to avoid gluten, eat fewer refined carbs, or eat out less, a health coach is there to provide small, tangible changes to help you reach your goals. This could include adding an extra vegetable each day, eating at home an extra day per week, or prioritizing protein at meal times to enhance satiety. Health coaches also discuss any barriers that may prevent you from making these changes, and, as a result, will modify their suggestions based on your lifestyle and dietary preferences.
#2: Health coaching can motivate you to move more.
Research shows health coaching can help people to be more physically active, as those who receive health coaching have been found to log significantly higher step counts or minutes of physical activity compared to those who did not have health coaching . Other studies have found that health coaching significantly increased physical activity in people over 60 years old, which is beneficial for preventing chronic disease and maximizing independence in older age .
Health coaches can provide motivation and accountability if you find it difficult to make physical activity part of your regular routine.
#3: Health coaching can help you better understand your health.
From diet and lifestyle changes to managing doctor’s visits, lab tests, and medications, improving your health can be a daunting and complicated process. That’s where health coaches can help the most, as they make sense of the overwhelming world of nutritional science and social media misinformation.
Health coaches also draw connections between your blood test results, your lifestyle, and your personal priorities to identify where nutrition and supplements can have the most impact. Each time you meet with your health coach, you will gain a better understanding of what your results mean and how supplements can improve them.
#4: Health coaching can boost weight loss.
If you’re looking to shed some pounds, numerous studies have shown that health coaching can help you lose weight and keep it off.
Notable research indicates that people who received one coaching call per week achieved significant weight loss and reductions in body mass index and waist circumference compared to those who didn’t receive coaching [5,6,7].
Health coaches help you with your weight loss goals by focusing on diet and lifestyle changes and keep you motivated by reminding you to aim for progress, not perfection.
#5: Health coaching can improve cholesterol and blood pressure.
Research shows that health coaching can help improve heart health. For example, people who received coaching have been found to experience a reduction in cholesterol and blood pressure compared to those who were not coached [8,22].
Health coaches create recommendations based on your test results. Whether it’s adding more fiber-rich foods, limiting refined carbohydrates, avoiding trans-fats, recommending certain supplements, or increasing physical activity, they create a plan that works for you and continually modify their recommendations as needed.
#6: Health coaching can improve blood sugar control.
One study has found type 2 diabetics who received weekly telephone coaching significantly reduced their blood sugar levels by 1.3% compared to a 0.5% reduction in the control group who received standard care. Additionally, more than 79% of coaching participants stated their coach helped better control their diabetes, and more than half expressed interest in receiving further coaching .
Additionally, research indicates that people who received six months of health coaching had greater self-efficacy, metabolic control, improved knowledge, and, as a result, better clinical outcomes than those given usual care [20,21].
#7: Health coaching provides a customized health improvement plan
It’s easy to take an online health questionnaire, but oftentimes these assessments don’t take you’re your medications, daily routines, and dietary practices into account, generally providing a very basic response. Health Coaches understand that your body is unique, and your nutrition plan should be, also.
Health coaches are interested in your whole health picture. By understanding your goals, dietary routines, family history, specific health concerns, and lifestyle habits, they are able to make more accurate and personalized recommendations unique to you.
#8: Health coaching can help decrease medical expenses.
When managing a chronic condition, taking your meds will keep you out of trouble. Still, many struggle with understanding their medications and fail to take them appropriately. Several studies show health coaching can significantly improve medication adherence and reduce hospitalizations .
#9: Health coaching can create a positive change.
Making a positive change is much easier when there is someone in your corner rooting for you, as studies show that only 4% of people are likely to complete a goal on their own when compared to 95% of people who have an accountability partner [26,27].
Health coaches are your built-in accountability buddies. They utilize emails and follow-up calls to communicate with you and understand how you’re feeling and what you’re going through. These regular check-ins can help keep you accountable, but more importantly, they give you a support system that generates results.
#10: Health coaching improves your overall quality of life.
Health coaching has been shown to significantly improved risk factors that can greatly improve your quality of life .
Additionally, research has found that health coaches have a positive impact on people’s depressive symptoms, social aspects, psychological health, and perceived stress levels .
Health coaches are experts on human behavior that can help you navigate specific diet, lifestyle, and behavioral changes. While they can help improve your overall health, it’s important that you work with a qualified person who also makes you feel at ease. Whether you’re looking to improve your diet, increase physical activity, quit smoking, or lower your cholesterol levels, health coaches can help you gain the knowledge, skills, tools, and confidence you need to take charge of your health and well-being.