Lifestyle Medicine

What is Lifestyle Medicine?

Lifestyle Medicine is defined as the application of medical, behavioural, motivational and environmental principles to the management of health problems. It incorporates self-care and empowers the patient to take control of their health and well-being. It involves the use of evidenced-based lifestyle interventions delivered by a trained clinician to prevent, treat and reverse disease. It addresses the root causes of ill health, taking a holistic approach to improve health and well-being.

Lifestyle Medicine focuses on the whole person and their lifestyle and is based upon the six pillars of:

  • Physical activity and exercise – supporting you to find and engage with physical activity which is enjoyable and sustainable for you.
  • Diet and nutrition – teaching you the knowledge and skills to follow an eating pattern that is healthy for your body and mind.
  • Sleep – helping you to improve the quality of your sleep.
  • Mental well-being and stress reduction – teaching you proven techniques to reduce stress and aid relaxation, taking a whole-person approach to mental well-being.
  • Harmful substance reduction or cessation, e.g. tobacco, drugs, alcohol, toxins – giving personalised advice on risks and how to safely reduce or stop.
  • Healthy relationships and social connectedness – supporting you to improve the quality of your relationships and social connections which can benefit both mental and physical health.

The Lifestyle Medicine approach seeks to support individuals to make positive behaviour changes and really understand their health. It is not about blaming or lecturing people but instead using evidenced-based approaches and empowering patients to improve their health and well-being. Practitioners understand the physical, emotional, environmental and social determinants of disease. They take a personalised approach to creating a care plan for each individual patient and provide psychological support to make your healthy behaviour changes really stick.

Who will benefit from a Lifestyle Medicine approach?

If you are living with a chronic health condition and want to improve your overall health, reduce your need for prescription medications or reduce your long term health risks then a lifestyle medicine assessment and personalised health and well-being plan can help. Many people can dramatically improve their health by addressing one, some or all of their needs (improved diet, reduced stress, a balanced level of physical activity, improved sleep, reduced harmful substances and improved social connectedness). Conditions include:

  • Diabetes, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, fatty liver
  • Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke/TIA (mini-stroke)
  • Asthma, COPD
  • IBS, dyspepsia, inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerance
  • Depression, anxiety, low mood, stress, burn-out, insomnia
  • Joint pains, arthritis, inflammatory conditions, fatigue, fibromyalgia
  • Hypothyroidism, menopausal symptoms, infertility
  • “Long Covid”, auto-immune conditions, poor immune function (susceptibility to infection)
  • Dermatological conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
  • Or you may simply be feeling you are not fully in a state of health – struggling with fatigue, niggling aches and pains, malaise, lack of energy, unsettled digestion, disturbed sleep etc.

Where there is a strong family history of chronic disease you may wish to take a proactive approach to your health, reducing your long term risks of disease and maximising your healthy lifespan. In this case Lifestyle Medicine can provide a personalised assessment of your risk factors and create a plan to support health and well-being while reducing the risk of chronic disease.

Or you may simply be looking for support to develop a healthier lifestyle if you:

  • have made lifestyle changes before but found them difficult to stick to
  • lack motivation to make the changes in the first place
  • wish to make changes but don’t know where to start
  • want a truly personal health plan which takes into account sleep, stress, nutrition and physical activity while also helping you to kick that unhealthy habit and improve your relationships too!

Whatever your reasons, the great news is that your health and well-being plan doesn’t have to take ages or involve endless visits to the gym or eating only salad. With a personalised approach focusing on your goals and taking account of your preferences you can actually enjoy making these changes, often in only a few minutes a day! As well as advice on what changes to make a Lifestyle Medicine approach uses evidenced-based psychological approaches to help motivate and support you to achieve your goals. 

Listen to Dr Dyson's podcast on Lifestyle Medicine here.

Useful websites:

Lifestyle Medicine at The Natural Practice

Dr. Dyson is a member of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine (BSLM) and is undertaking certification with the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine (IBLM) through their Diploma examination. She therefore has up-to-date knowledge of the Lifestyle Medicine approach and combines this with her clinical experience as a GP. You can book for an Integrated (Lifestyle) Medicine initial appointment where she will undertake a comprehensive, holistic assessment and support you to improve your health.  This includes creation of a detailed health and well-being plan - a few simple changes to make in your day-to-day routine which will really help to improve your health.  Follow up appointments last 30 minutes and are recommended to assess progress, offer support and adjust your goals as your health and well-being improves.

For more detailed information about how support is structured please click here



Dr Ruth Dyson

Physician, Integrated Medicine

Dr Kate Shapland

Physician (Integrated Medicine)