Sun, Jan. 26

Lifestyle prescription is the medicine your body craves

We are very powerful. With correct lifestyle choices, we can prevent about 80 percent of chronic conditions. This percentage will be even higher for our children's generation.

So if you are not motivated to make lifestyle changes for your own health and wellness, do it for them.

I am focusing today on the lifestyle diseases -- cardiac disease, stroke, hypertension, cancers, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and respiratory disease -- which are often linked to diet, smoking, substance abuse, and a sedentary lifestyle. The stresses of modern life such as financial concerns can also exacerbate these conditions.

But we are not helpless victims of circumstance! We can change. That is the message of lifestyle medicine, which focuses on increasing physical activity levels, improving nutrition, reducing stress, and making better social and environmental choices (healthier relationships, more restful sleep patterns) in order to prevent, manage, or reverse many chronic conditions and diseases.

Instead of masking a given condition with any number of medications, lifestyle medicine takes a more natural and holistic approach to wellness and empowers each of us to be the caretakers of our health.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the father of modern western medicine, intuitively understood the importance of a holistic-approach to health. He did not mention pills or surgeries as his preferred approach to treat illness and poor health.

Instead he advised: "Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food" and "Walking is man's best medicine."

Hippocrates considered illness a reaction to imbalances in the body. 2500 years later, his emphasis on diet and exercise remains relevant and valid. But to benefit from this age-old truism, you have to be willing to change your behavior.

Nothing frustrates me more than when I hear someone claim they don't have the time or money to exercise or eat healthfully. Nothing gets me angrier than to hear someone who is already sick say they don't feel motivated enough to do the prescribed functional exercises at home or pay for an acupuncture session and massage.

If you don't invest in health and wellness today, the future cost can include chronic and debilitating conditions and a revolving door of doctors and prescriptions because your health will have been so compromised.

Our current health care -- which includes the insurance industry -- is focused on profit, not prevention. Too often the health care system uses the Band-Aid approach, using medications to mask the underlying problem.

A much better prescription to follow is the one written 2500 years ago by Hippocrates, a lifestyle medicine action plan that promotes physical and emotional wellness while helping avoid a host of preventable diseases and conditions.

Magdalena Romanska, PhD, Certified Wellness Coach and Fitness Specialist & owner of the Be Fit Fit Personal Training and Wellness Studio ( Her Be Fit Fit blog is available on

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