As a movement practitioner, I love it when my clients become my teachers. One conversation with someone going through the process of changing their life and fighting challenges may prompt, lead, or sometimes shove me into examining my practice, my approach, and my connection with the people I serve. Just recently Mary, one of my clients, wanted to meet with me to discuss her progress and our conversation inspired this article.
From Couch to Coach: The Benefits of Health Coaching for Improving Physical Activity in Parkinson’s Disease Patients
The benefits of health coaching for managing chronic diseases has been growing in popularity for the past decade and contrary to popular belief, a health coach is not someone who is just providing guidance on weight loss. The concept of activation is a crucial component to managing healthy behaviors and for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or other neurological conditions, the ability to adhere to exercise programs can be a challenge.
According to Terry Ellis, assistant professor at Sargent College and Director of the Center for Neurorehabilitation, a virtual coach was effective in helping individuals diagnosed with PD adhere to a daily walking regimen. After one month of coaching, Ellis’ study demonstrated a 100 percent retention rate among participants due to the ability of the coach to build social and emotional relationships.
For those living with neurological conditions, both the availability and accessibility to exercise programs for this population can be a limiting factor. For those with advanced symptoms, driving themselves to an exercise class is not possible and can place an added strain on their caregiver to coordinate such processes. A health coach can be just what is needed to link the patient to the outside world by which they feel connected socially and emotionally. This can provide enough motivation for them to engage in the necessary level of exercise the can significantly reduce symptoms related to PD or other neurological conditions.
Health coaching for this population should focus primarily on:
- Managing the severity and variability of symptoms through a day, week or month and counsel the patient on how to stay on track with healthy behaviors
- Ensuring adequate social and emotional support and possibly connecting them to community resources such as respite programs, support groups, or educational classes
- Connecting them to experts that can help them remain physically active while avoiding injury or falls
- Support the needs of the caregiver through the progression of the disease and guide additional services that may be required should symptoms worsen
- Health coaches are not expected to be experts in the disease itself, but rather an outlet for the patient to express their needs and ensure the highest quality of life possible.
Ellis, T. (2013). Feasibility of a virtual exercise coach to promote walking in community dwelling persons with Parkinson Disease. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Vol. 92, Issue 6, pp. 472-485. Doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31828cd466.
SILVER SPRING, MD (December 1, 2015) – PHIT America has found a partner in the medical community that shares the same mindset and vision of a healthy and active American population. That partner is the Medical Fitness Network.
Both PHIT America and the Medical Fitness Network are dedicated to educating Americans about the power and importance of exercise and having a physically active lifestyle.
“We at PHIT America are focused on educating Americans about the importance of reversing the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ which is affecting 83 million Americans,” states Jim Baugh, Founder, PHIT America.
“Exercise has an essential role in the treatment and prevention of many chronic medical conditions,” says Lisa Dougherty, Founder/CEO, Medical Fitness Network. “Exercise also improves overall health and quality of life. These benefits are applicable to people of all ages and most all states of health.”
“We share a mutual goal of educating people about healthy living, the importance of exercise and finding help if you face chronic diseases/medical conditions and their risk factors,” adds Baugh. “We are pleased to offer those who come to our website this important community resource of fitness, complementary health and wellness professionals that the MFN provides.”
Both PHIT America and MFN are in complete agreement when it comes to pursuing the following goals:
- Educate Americans about the issues of physical inactivity and compel them to be active, fit, and playing more sports to achieve better health
- Get one million children active by 2020! This will be achieved by promoting and supporting grassroots and school-based programs which will get more children active, fit and healthy
- Help to pass common-sense U.S. legislation (PHIT Act) which will result in more active and fit Americans which will prevent health care costs
- Bring together companies, organizations, celebrities, local ‘influencers’ and concerned Americans to work on a common approach to get America more active, fit and healthy
“The Medical Fitness Network is excited to have both our fitness and healthcare professional members and consumer visitors learn more about the work, research and resources of PHIT America,” adds Dougherty.
About the Medical Fitness Network
The mission of the MFN is to improve the quality of life for those with chronic medical conditions or who need pre or postnatal care by connecting them to qualified fitness & healthcare professionals. MFN provides a free national network of exemplary fitness and healthcare professionals with a background in treatment and rehabilitation of various diseases and medical conditions.
About PHIT America
Founded in January 2013, PHIT America is a non-profit campaign focused on overcoming the severe ramifications of the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ through three strategic approaches – education, supporting school-based activity programs, and advocating – which will get Americans, especially our youth, more active, fit and healthy. For more information about PHIT America, visit www.PHITAmerica.org.
PHIT America, 8505 Fenton Street, Suite 211, Silver Spring, MD 20910 www.phitamerica.org
Diabetes, if left unmanaged, has many serious complications such as loss of vision. It is imperative for anyone with diabetes to follow their doctor’s treatment plan. The plan may include dietary changes, exercise and medication. Exercise is important as it will help your body to use sugars naturally. It also has many other health benefits such as stress management, decreasing high blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis.
Two weeks ago I had the pure pleasure to interview Zoe Heineman. While Zoe is an acquaintance of mine and I’ve met her several times, I had no idea she had run two marathons and was about to run her third. While that’s impressive enough, Zoe runs with Type 1 diabetes. No easy feat.
Throughout his life my father, Leonard DeVito, was very physically active and competitive. Had his mentor not suggested pharmacy school he would have chosen coaching. He played competitive basketball as an adult, golfed at every opportunity as a ten handicap, took yoga, worked out and accepted every invitation to alumni vs. current student sporting events.
Under stress, both psychological and physical, the body’s sympathetic nervous system or SNS goes into overdrive. Pain, fatigue from fighting the disease, the side effects of treatment all place stress on the body and generate difficulties with sleep, digestion, elimination, growth, repair and cell reproduction.
Multiple Sclerosis or MS, is considered a neuro degenerative disease and inflammatory immune condition that can cause problems throughout the body. MS affects approximately two million people each year with no known cure, making it a “chronic disease”.
It’s no secret that America has a weight problem. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, more than a third of U.S. adults are obese — nearly 79 million people. On top of that, obesity also affects our kids, with nearly 18 percent of children and 21 percent of adolescents categorized as obese. The price tag for our girth as a nation is equally impressive.