- What is lifestyle medicine
- Wellness and its components
- Digital health and wellness
- Lifestyle factors and their health implication
- Lifestyle modification and its benefits
- Personal wellness plan
WHAT IS LIFESTYLE MEDICINE?
- A lifestyle refers to the way of life of a person
- Lifestyle medicine refers to the integration of a person’s way of life into the modern practice of medicine both to reduce risk factors for disease and / or where disease is present to serve as adjunct to its therapy and control.
- It is a relatively new discipline, which bridges the gap between health promotion as found in public health and clinical medicine.
- It involves the use of lifestyle interventions in the management of disease.
The scope of practise of lifestyle medicine
The scope of practise of lifestyle medicine extends from primary prevention to secondary prevention and tertiary prevention.
Primary Prevention: This involves preventing a disease from developing by modifying the behavioural or environmental cause. For example: helping a person from becoming overweight by implementing lifestyle changes.
Secondary prevention: involves modifying risk factors t o avert the complications of disease. Example: helping an overweight person with diabetes avoid diabetic complications.
Tertiary prevention: Involves rehabilitation from a disease state and prevention of reoccurrence. Example; advising an obese patient with poor diabetic control and previous amputation to undergo a weight reduction program and adhere to her insulin regimen to avoid another amputation.
WELLNESS AND ITS COMPONENTS
Wellness entails a constant effort to remain healthy and achieve the highest potential for wellbeing. Such effort should result in positive outcomes in the seven dimension of wellness including physical, occupational, intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional and environmental dimensions.
DIGITAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Digital Health and wellness aims at keeping us away from physical and psychological harm that could result from the use of digital technology.
- It is crucial that we are informed of the hazards of the digital life and how to keep healthy and safe.
- As the world today has attained such a digital importance, and dependence on the internet is high, we need to make sure that people know and understand the physical and psychological damage and risks that can occur.
INTERNET ADDICTION WARNING SIGNS
- Denial and lying about the amount of time spend on the computer or about what they are doing on the computer.
- Excessive fatigue and change in sleeping habits, such as getting up early or staying up late (to spend more time online).
- Academic problems, usually grades slipping.
- Withdrawal from friends and declining interest in hobbies.
- Loss of appetite; irritability when cut off from computer use; a decline in their appearance or hygiene.
- Disobedience and acting out.
FOUR TOP HEALTH PROBLEMS OF COMPUTER USE
- Computer /repetitive stress injuries (RSI)
- Bad posture e.g. wrong hand position, wrong sitting position
- Hurting hands
- Computer vision syndrome (CVS)
- Health problems of sedentary lifestyle
- Health effects of the use of cellular phones
Repetitive stress injury also known as repetitive strain injury, repetitive motion injuries, repetitive motion disorder, cumulative trauma disorder, occupational overuse syndrome, overuse syndrome. It is an injury of the muscles, skeletal and nervous system that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, pressing against hard surfaces or sustained or awkward positions.
RSI is best understood as an apparently healthy arm that hurts.
Treatment of RSI
- Modifications of posture and arm use are often recommended
- Ergonomics: the science of designing the job, equipment and workplace
- Adaptive technology ranging from special keyboards, mouse replacements and pen tablets interfaces to speech recognition software might help improve comfort.
- Break timers: the program frequently alerts user to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts user to a predefined daily limit.
COMPUTER VISION SYNDROME (CVS)
This is the general term used to describe a variety of vision related symptoms that may be aggravated by regular use of a computer for two or more hours a day.
Symptoms of CVS include tired eyes, headache, double vision, red and watery eyes, dry eye, neck & shoulder aches. Other contributing factors to CVS include
- Constant gazing at a near distance at the monitor which leads to convergence fatigue
- Fixed posture while working long hours
- The eye muscles do not get much opportunity to move
- Uncorrected visual defects
What can be done
- Eye exercises
- Effective breaks
- Eye wear
Ergonomic, the science of work, is a field of technology that considers human capabilities and limitations in the design of machines and objects that people use, the work processes that they must follow, and the environments in which they operate.
Computer ergonomics for example is
- To ensure that the screen to eye distance should be at a distance of 16-30 inches from the eyes.
- Adjusting height of the seat so that the middle of the computer-screen is about 20degrees below the eye level
- Minimize glare by
- Direct the overhead lights away from computer screens
- Position your monitor so that all windows are to be side rather than to the back or front.
- Adjust window blinds so that sunlight is away from screen and your eyes
- Install an anti-glare optically coated glass filter on the computer screen
- Ergonomic chairs
- Eye wear – Computer glasses which have special tint, special UV coating that blocks UV rays.
Effective short breaks
Computer users can reduce fatigue by taking breaks from work and can benefit from taking a five minutes break for every 30minutes of work.
The lifestyle factors with important health influence include
- physical activity level, nutrition, alcohol, tobacco, substance abuse, sexuality, spirituality, stress handling, health literacy, weight control, digital behaviour, personal hygiene, the use of humor and music.
Consequences of inappropriate lifestyle factors
* Sedentary living can lead to
– poor cardiac function
– overweight and obesity
– Physically unfit individual
– Metabolic syndrome
* Poor diet and nutritional practise
– High cholesterol & serum lipids
– Overweight & obesity
– Vitamin & mineral deficiencies
– Diabetes and hypertension
* Alcohol abuse
– Liver cirrhosis
– Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
– High risk behaviour
* Substance abuse including tobacco use
– psychosis – Lung cancers – Addiction
– violence and trauma – High risk behaviours
* Poor handling of stress
– Hypertension – Poor concentration – Stroke
– Diabetes – Poor memory – Overweight and obesity
– Decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction
Beneficial effects of Lifestyle modifications
Some lifestyle modifications have beneficial effects on palliative care:
- Exercise improves symptoms and tolerance of pain in most chronic illnesses.
- Appropriate diet provides energy, boast immunity and improves clinical outcome
- Adequate water intake relieves constipation and improves general wellbeing
- Regular meditation reduces stress and improves psychological health
- Improved personal hygiene reduces risk of opportunistic infection and enhances wellness
- BMI review. BMI = Weight (kg) / Height (m2)
- Daily exercise is a must: average of 30minutes of aerobic exercise per day
- Dietary precautions: High intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low fat dairy products and whole grain and low intake of sodium, sweetened beverages and red and processed meat.
- Stretching exercises
- Breathing techniques
- Progressive relaxation
- Group support
Personal Wellness Plan
- The hallmark of life is to live longer, happier and free of disability
- A personal wellness plan is an insurance for achieving this laudable aim
- Everybody should have a personal wellness plan that addresses most aspects of the seven dimension of wellness
- The plan should be simple to follow and have measurable indicators
- The individual should measure the progress of implementation of the plan and assess its impact on his health
Example of a typical wellness could be as follows:
* Meditation, early morning exercise and water prevention therapy.
* Limit meals to balanced diet with progressive reduction in size of meal. Take five courses of fruits and vegetable daily
* Practise personal hygiene, maintain a clean environment and apply the win-win principles in your dealings with colleagues at work and friends.
* Ensure a minimum of 7-8hours of sleep every day.
* Accord top priority to the use of personal safety measures such as immunisation, use of bed nets, seat belts and other preventive devices.
- There is no longer any doubt that daily habits and actions influence health and quality of life.
- Lifestyle medicine holds the solution for today’s and tomorrow’s health problems
- Lifestyle medicine is both preventive and curative and complement many of today’s treatment modalities.
Dr. Mrs. B. Ayuba
Praise Baptist Church,
Ogun State, Nigeria.