Leading the Way in Lifestyle Medicine

Leading the Way in Lifestyle Medicine

Just like maintaining your car with a regular tune-up to keep it running smoothly, lifestyle medicine teaches patients good habits to reverse or prevent disease (so they don’t end up in the hospital).

This new field of practice takes a holistic view of the individual and promotes lifestyle behaviors, like good nutrition and physical activity to stave off or reduce chronic disease.

“It’s a field of medicine that trains doctors to participate in public health initiatives and deliver preventive services for patients,” says Bonnie Coyle, M.D., Chairman of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at St. Luke’s Health Network.

Dr. Coyle works with whole populations to develop community health approaches. Her department offers screenings for early disease detection and prevention.

“We are a lifestyle medicine service,” Dr. Coyle says. “We counsel patients on adopting a diet that helps prevent disease and includes exercise programs.”

According to Dr. Coyle, nearly 80% of all chronic disease can be reversed or prevented with four main steps: eating a plant-based diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.

“Individuals have power through their own actions,” she says.

Dr. Coyle is board certified by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. She is on the faculty at the Temple St. Luke’s School of Medicine where a new training program is about to begin to teach young doctors lifestyle medicine and how to prescribe behavior changes over medication when possible. The program is just one of only a few offered in the United States.

“We want all doctors better trained to help, so people can make changes in their lives and have greater health benefits,” Dr. Coyle says.

St. Luke’s offers an adolescent peer mentoring program, pregnancy services and counseling for young mothers, plans for smoking cessation, cooking classes for diabetics, and counseling for sleep issues. The network also organized “Get Your Tail on the Trail” in partnership with the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor to promote and organize hiking groups for fitness. They also host “Walk with a Doc” where patients can join in regularly scheduled two-mile walks with physicians and chat about health matters.

“It can really be empowering when someone realizes they don’t have to suffer and can recover dramatically and have a better life,” Dr. Coyle says. “We all want to live long, but we want to live healthy.”

For more information, call 1-866-STLUKES.

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