Those who study and practice lifestyle rehabilitation medicine understand that lifestyle medicine is preventive medicine. And while many would say that doctors already understand the benefits of things like eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Lifestyle medicine, however, works to extend research into the understanding of how comprehensive lifestyle interventions can address the core, underlying risks of disease. Rehabilitation research in the field of lifestyle medicine focuses on health maintenance, rather than rehabilitation medicine that begins after a diagnosis.
Lifestyle medicine is also interdisciplinary, because best practices as determined by lifestyle rehabilitation medicine can improve health results in all fields of medicine. Here at ACRM, we have recently created the Lifestyle Medicine Networking Group, and we’re proud to have a network of some of the best clinicians and researchers in the world who work to promote and study interdisciplinary lifestyle rehabilitation medicine.
In today’s post, we’ll be exploring a few of the areas of medicine that fall under the umbrellas of lifestyle medicine, as well as providing background information for those who may be new to the field.
One of the goals of lifestyle medicine is to reduce the emotional and physical suffering associated with lifestyle diseases and to promote the understanding the making significant lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of disease.
Lifestyle-related diseases include, but are not limited to:
- Cardiac Disease
While the causes of these diseases are multifold and diverse, rehabilitation research and rehabilitation medicine has shown that making changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and eating a plant-based diet can reduce your risk.
General Lifestyle Medicine
One of the focuses of lifestyle medicine is performing research focused on the ways that lifestyle choices influence one another. For example, the way that getting better sleep can also help individuals achieve a healthy weight. The word “lifestyle” encompases a broad and diverse set of interventions, unlike, say, a focus specifically on heart health.
Here are two of the many examples of lifestyle rehabilitation medicine research. Consider how you can intentionally incorporate lifestyle medicine into your own rehabilitation medicine practice.
Beyond simply improving general health and wellness, rehabilitation research has shown that exercise can help in situations in which patients would most likely choose to rest and recover. For example, personalized exercise programs, created by a physical therapist or personal trainer, have been shown to improve post-surgery outcomes, in all types of surgery. Having increased strength and fitness can speed recovery times. Cancer patients have found that exercise programs during treatment have helped minimize side effects and prevent loss of function.
Sleep and Nutrition
More and more research is showing that sleep is essential to the functioning of every system in the human body. Research, like this study out of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, has shown that improved sleep, diet, and exercises in adults with serious mental illness showed significant improvement in self-management of their chronic illness.
Other studies have shown that the lack of rest affects hormone balance, which influences food craving, and can result in bad dietary choices. Poor sleep also causes a rise in cortisol, putting undue stress on the body.
This blog post is a very brief introduction into lifestyle medicine, and if you’re interested in learning more, consider joining or contacting the ACRM interdisciplinary Lifestyle Medicine Group. Learn the benefits of joining ACRM as well as member dues and membership application. The ACRM conference is another great way to network with colleagues in the field of rehabilitation medicine. Join ACRM today to contribute to the conversation and research surrounding traumatic brain injury recovery.