Same Ol’ Song: Wellness With A Little Help from Our Friends

By Martha Michael

Male Friends Rock Climbing in Gym

If you're like most people, you get health advice and inspiration from someone in your life because "that's what friends are for." But there are also plenty of experts to provide you with assistance if you're aiming to improve or maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you like the idea of pursuing some personal growth, but you'd rather seek it on your own, you're actually not alone.

An article in the Boston Globe says that Americans spend approximately $549 million per year on self-help books, mostly about weight loss. The author cites Marketdata Enterprises in Tampa, a company that reports many of those buyers go to the well repeatedly for self-help material.

"A particularly fierce American hunger for self-actualization grew out of the 1960s and flourished in the '70s, promising to help us realize our human potential," the article says. And to access some of the resources you read about, you may find it's time to develop a partnership. But if you reach out and say "Help, I need somebody," make sure to follow it up with "not just anybody."

Life Coach

For individuals who find themselves unmotivated and singin' the blues, it may be a good idea to seek out a psychotherapist, who's trained to advise clients wrestling with emotional issues. But if you're simply looking for a guide to motivate you and walk beside you in improving your confidence, performance, and to draft new goals, the best person may be a life coach.

Professionals in the field aim to help clients do their own work assessing and setting new personal trajectories. Teasing out trouble from your past, however, is out of a life coach's scope, according to author Ashley Stahl in Forbes Magazine.

"As a professional coach, I am only qualified to work with clients who are willing, able, and ready to move forward," Stahl says.

While many females are active in the life coaching industry, individuals of both sexes from a wide range of industries engage in the practice, a profession that's designed to contribute to overall wellness. One myth, Stahl points out, is that an effective life coach must come from the same industry as the client in order to make progress. But that's not what’s important. When choosing a coach, your personal comfort is key, plus you want someone who walks the talk, though your life coach is not a template for you to clone -- another myth Stahl exposes.

"A stellar coach is not single-minded about what success looks like -- he or she is only an example, not the definitive model, of what is possible for you," she says.

You won't be alone in turning to a life coach. Forbes says the industry brings in $1 billion per year.

Chiropractor

You may think that chiropractic care is your go-to only when you have pain or injury to the back or other joints, but an ongoing maintenance program is an effective way to minimize your health risks, improve joint motion and experience a healthier, more active lifestyle. A study in Spine shows the benefit of routine spinal manipulative therapy to decrease the prevalence of lower back pain, says a National Institutes of Health report. Researchers found that patients had less recurring pain with routine visits to a chiropractor after an initial intensive manipulative treatment.

The same report says that regular chiropractic maintenance proved more effective than other post-injury treatments in a study that followed 894 workers for a year.

Researchers found the fewest number of recurring problems in the group of injured workers who received regular chiropractic care, which stood in contrast to three other groups receiving either medical management, physical therapy or no therapy.

Trainer

Though the idea of returning to the sweaty, exhausting routine of the gym makes you nauseous, at least you can cling to the idea that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And like other arenas of life, it seems you've got an advantage if you’re like James Taylor and you've got a friend.

In a Shape Magazine article titled "10 Reasons You Should Work Out With a Personal Trainer," there are solid arguments that may motivate you to work with a fitness professional.

It’s a good idea to get a trainer because:

  • They're objective
  • They push you harder
  • They offer accountability
  • They're often eye candy

On the more practical side, you can often get a free session to see if it's for you, and if your trainer isn't knowledgeable, or you aren't getting results, you can always try out a new "friend." And if the one-on-one isn't working, don't go back to your lonely ear buds-and-treadmill routine, pop in some Fleetwood Mac and go your own way. Try a class because based on the evidence, it appears that "people who need people" are the healthiest people in the world.

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