What Are the Benefits of Having a Health Coach?

They can help you reach your health goals, manage a health condition, and so much more.

Woman laughing with a friend

Updated on October 17, 2023.

Do you want to improve your overall health? Lose weight? Quit smoking? If you're looking to make changes to benefit your well-being, you’re not alone.

Change is hard, however, and sustaining behavior changes for the long term is even harder. That’s why many people work with a health coach, a professional “buddy” who can help you achieve your health and wellness goals, whatever they may be.

Here are a few of the ways a health coach can help you.

Help prevent or manage chronic conditions

Did you know that many chronic conditions—such as diabetes and heart disease—may be prevented by eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, managing your weight, and not smoking?

Translating these seemingly simple lifestyle goals into realistic daily activities can be challenging. But health coaching can help.

For example, the National Diabetes Prevention Program, sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, used lifestyle coaches (who were mostly dietitians) to help participants lose weight. Over three years, the study found a 58 percent reduction in new cases of diabetes for those who were at high risk.

Clients often have a condition, such as prediabetes, or they want to lower their blood glucose levels into a healthy range, or they have high cholesterol and want to bring it down without going on medications, says Flavia Magoba, a senior health coach with Sharecare in Silver Spring, Maryland. “We’ll talk about lifestyle changes they can make to help prevent progression to full-blown diabetes or heart disease.”

Based on her experience, Magoba finds that people with prediabetes are normally not referred to a registered dietitian until they actually have diabetes.

“It’s harder to reverse it then, whereas if you have prediabetes, it’s easier to prevent crossing over,” she says. A coach can help you change the way you eat. “We don’t provide fad diets. We provide solutions for lifetime changes,” she says.

Be an active participant in your own health

A coach helps you focus on why you’re motivated to change and encourages you to set your own health and wellness goals. After all, you’re much more likely to be committed to goals you set for yourself rather than those someone else dictates.

Magoba says good coaches learn as much as they can about their clients. “Are they looking for information? Do they need a lot of hand-holding? Are they resistant to change, or do they just need praise to maintain what they are already doing?" she says. "I meet them where they are but I don’t impose what I think they should be doing."

While a coach can be an invaluable source of information, support, and accountability, ultimately, clients are the experts of themselves, Magoba says. “They are the drivers of the process. They know themselves more than anybody does.”

Achieve sustainable results

If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking or lose weight and didn’t succeed (or relapsed), you know it’s hard to get change to stick. Research suggests that when individuals have someone to collaborate with, someone who recognizes their individuality, and encourages them to learn, they are more likely to change their behavior.

This, in a nutshell, is health coaching. It’s also a version of the familiar “teach a man to fish” parable: Coaching helps you develop the tools you need to make the long-term changes you want.

A bridge between your physician’s office and real life

Your healthcare provider (HCP) recommended you lose weight. Now what? A health coach can help you figure out what you actually need to do to lose the weight and keep it off.

“We’re not trying to replace what you’re doing with your doctor. Rather, we are an extra layer of support between doctor visits,” says Magoba. Your HCP gives you an instruction and coaches help you identify your personal vision, set actionable goals, and then take small, bite-size steps to reach those goals, she says.

Anyone can benefit from having a health coach if you want to make sustainable lifestyle changes to achieve long-term wellness goals.

“The demographics of our clients vary widely, from legislators to CEOs to the average Joe,” says Addie Spaller, a senior marketing specialist and former Sharecare coach manager. “These are the people working 9 to 5 who are busy with their kids and have let their health go. They want to set goals and get back on track.”

Ask your HCP or fitness club to recommend a health coach who's right for you and get started on your wellness transformation today.

Article sources open article sources

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). Last Reviewed May 2022. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is the National DPP? Last Reviewed: August 1, 2023.

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