How Background Music Influences Our Behavior at Work

A new study suggests that happy, rhythmic music increases cooperative behaviorand that may be good news for employers.

Last summer, I took my niece shopping at an urban clothing store in New York City. While she shopped, I couldnt help but notice the music blaring on the stores speaker systemit left my ears ringing and my nerves shot. I could only take it for about a half hour before I just had to leave the store.

Im sure the music was designed to appeal to the younger crowd shopping thereAKA not me!and certainly music has been shown to impact buying behavior. But it made me wonder: What about the people who work there and cant leave the store? Does the music impact them?

Now, a new study suggests that background music can influence people in surprising ways that could have special relevance for employers designing their workspaces.

In the study, recently published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, researcher Kevin Kniffin of Cornell University and his colleagues mimicked a workplace by paying university students to participate in an economics game, while listening to music.

During the many rounds of the game, participants were randomly assigned to listen to either happy, rhythmic music (e.g., the pop song Im Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves) or unhappy, non-rhythmic music (e.g., the heavy metal song Smokahontas by Attack Attack) in the background.

The results showed that participants who listened to happy music were more likely to cooperate, regardless of their age, gender, or academic major, than those who listened to unhappy music.

Perhaps thats not surprising, if happy music makes us happy and happy people are more cooperative. But that wasnt exactly what was going on; in a second experiment, researchers found that happy music was linked to increased cooperation whether or not it boosted participants mood.

Here, researchers added a control group who didnt listen to music and measured participants moods before, during, and after playing the game. Results again showed that the happy-music group cooperated more than the unhappy or no-music groups.

And, while a better mood was tied to greater cooperation, it couldnt account for the differences between groups. In other words, something else about happy, rhythmic music seemed to be encouraging cooperation.

According to Kniffin, this finding fits with previous research on music showing that it can increase cooperative behavior through synchronization among listeners.

When people are presented with a steady rhythm or beat, they are inclined to mimic that beat and, in turn, get in sync, he says. That translates naturally into more cooperation during decision-making.

Though results from this study are preliminaryfor example, the researchers didnt consider the impact of participants liking, disliking, or being familiar with the songsthey do point to the fact that music could impact workers, as well as clients or shoppers. Kniffin believes this is especially relevant to employers.

Compared with expensive off-site team-building retreats, our findings suggest that inexpensive modifications to the office soundscape can boost mood and performance, he says.

Some of his previous research has found that even simply having workers eat together can increase job performance.

If his findings on happy music hold, Kniffin believes that they may translate into changes in the workplace that could benefit employees and employers without hurting the bottom line.

Hopefully, that New York department store and others like it will take note.

By Jill Suttie

– The Greater Good Science Center, The University California Berkeley

배경 음악은 직장에서 어떤 영향을 미치는가

새로운 연구에 따르면 행복하고 리드미컬한 음악은 협조적인 행동을 증가시키고 고용주에게도 좋은 소식이 준다.

지난 여름, 나는 조카와 뉴욕의 한 의류점에서 쇼핑을 했다. 쇼핑을 하는 동안, 가게의 스피커에서 울려 퍼지는 음악에 그 곳을 떠나기 전까지 30여분 동안 온통 귀가 울리고 신경이 멍해졌다.

나는 그런 음악이 그 곳에서 쇼핑하는 젊은층을 위해 디자인되었다고 생각한다. 확실히 음악은 구매 행동에 영향을 준다. 그렇다면 거기에서 일하고 가게를 떠날 수 없는 사람들은 어떨까? 음악이 그들에게 영향을 미칠까?

이제 새로운 연구에 따르면 배경 음악은 사용자가 작업 공간을 설계 할 때 특별한 관련성을 가질 수 있는 놀라운 방법으로 사람들에게 영향을 줄 수 있다.

이 연구에서 코넬 대학의 케빈 니핀(Kevin Kniffin) 연구원은 음악을 들으며 경제학 게임에 참여하도록 대학생들에게 돈을 지불함으로써 직장을 모방해 보았다.

여러 라운드 동안 참가자들은 행복하고 리듬감있는 음악(예 : Katrina와 Waves의 “I ‘m Walking On Sunshine”) 또는 슬프고, 리듬이 없는 음악(예 : Attack Attack에 의한 헤비메탈음악 “Smokahontas”)을 배경으로 했다.

그 결과 행복 음악을 듣는 참가자들은 불행한 음악을 들었던 사람들보다 나이, 성별, 학업, 전공과 상관없이 협조율이 높았다.

행복한 음악이 우리를 기쁘게 하고 행복한 사람들이 더 협조적이라는 점은 놀랄 일이 아니다. 그러나 그보다 두 번째 실험에서 연구자들은 행복한 음악이 참가자의 분위기를 부추겼든 아니든 간에 협력 관계가 강화되었다는 사실을 발견한 점이다.

여기에 연구원은 음악을 듣지 않은 그룹을 추가하고 게임을 하기 전, 도중, 후에 참가자의 분위기를 측정했다. 결과는 행복한 음악 그룹이 슬픈 음악이나 음악이 없는 그룹 이상으로 협력했다는 것을 다시 보여주었다. 행복하고 리드미컬한 음악에 대한 뭔가가 협력을 고무시키는 것처럼 보였다.

니핀에 따르면, 이 발견은 청취자 간의 동기화를 통해 협조 행동을 증가시킬 수 있다는 음악에 대한 이전 연구와 일치한다.

“사람들이 꾸준한 리듬이나 비트를 들을 때, 그 비트를 모방하고 차례로 동기화 될 경향이 있고 의사 결정 과정에서 자연스럽게 협조가 이루어진다”는 말이다. 이 연구의 결과는 예를 들어 연구자가 좋아하는 것, 싫어하는 것, 노래에 익숙한 사람들의 영향을 고려하지 않았지만 음악은 근로자뿐 아니라 고객이나 구매자에게도 영향을 미칠 수 있다는 사실을 지적한다. 니핀은 이것이 특히 고용주와 관련이 있다고 생각한다.

“값 비싼 휴양지와 비교할 때, 사무실 음향을 저렴한 가격으로 바꾸면 분위기와 성능이 향상 될 수 있다“고 한다.

그의 이전 연구에 따르면, 단순히 근로자가 함께 식사하는 것으로도 업무 수행을 향상시킬 수 있다고 밝혔다.

행복한 음악에 대한 그의 발견이 뒷받침된다면, 니핀은 근로자와 고용주에게 이익을 줄 수 있는 직장 변화를 꾀할 수 있다고 생각한다.

바라건대, 백화점과 다른 기업들이 이 사실에 주목할 것이다.

준비: 주경숙

원문:  How Background Music Influences Our Behavior at Work by By Jill Suttie

Pioneers in Lifestyle Medicine—Dr. Dean Ornish


Over the last 35 years, Dr. Dean Ornish has become an icon in the Lifestyle Medicine movement. Per his website [1], he has authored six books and over twenty-five articles. He currently serves as the Medical Editor for the Huffington Post. He’s been advisor and consultant to two US Presidents and recipient of countless awards and honors. His lifestyle medicine and wellness plan was the first to be covered by Medicare in the US. He’s participated in research studies proving that it is possible to reverse heart disease [2], reduce or reverse high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, cholesterol [3], and slow down the aging process with a healthy lifestyle [4]. His Lifestyle Medicine program covers four areas—nutrition, physical activity, stress management, and love and support [5]. Since we’ve discussed the importance of nutrition and physical activity in previous blog articles, we’ll focus on the benefits of stress management and connectedness (love and support) in Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness.

Stress Management

Chronic stress is damaging to our physical and mental health. The American Heart Association lists several common symptoms of stress including [6]:

• Headache
• Backache
• Neckache
• Stomachache
• Tight muscles
• Clenched jaw
• Insomnia
• Fatigue
• Anger
• Anxiety
• Feelings of helplessness
• Easily irritated
• Impatience
• Forgetfulness

Chronic stress can lead to poor lifestyle decisions that negatively impact wellness such as excessive consumption of unhealthy food, alcohol, and even illegal drugs. These behaviors contribute to the development of illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, certain types of cancer, and stroke. Learning to successfully cope with stress is critical in preventing these diseases. Dr. Ornish’s program introduces stress management techniques such as “stretching, meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, and imagery” [7]. Several studies on cardiovascular, blood pressure and anxiety rates support the use of these techniques as providing relief for symptoms of stress [8,9]. However, there has been much debate over whether these therapies directly impact symptoms or simply put the patients in a better state of mind to deal with their illnesses. Regardless of the answer, if it helps patients modify behavioral responses that increase their risk for disease, the techniques are a success.


In additional to stress management, Dr. Ornish promotes love and support through connectedness and community [10]. Humans are meant to congregate, exchange ideas and share experiences. When we are isolated and alone, we experience greater incidence of illness and premature death. A study conducted in Amersterdam focusing on the effect of loneliness and depression on mortality in adults aged 55-85 over nineteen years found loneliness and depression both individually and together to be a significant indicator of early death in adults [11].

Dan Buettner traveled the world to interview communities with the largest populations of the oldest people in the world [12]. In his book, The Blue Zones 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, he revealed one of the common factors in longevity is connectedness. In all the communities, family and social networks were part of daily life. They provided emotional and sometimes financial support to each other. When faced with illness, it is critical to our well-being to have the support of medical professionals and the support of others—family, friends, support groups, and community groups.


Whether you’re a patient or a medical professional, stress management and connectedness through love and support are critical to your well-being. However, these are just two of the seven (or more) dimensions of wellness that are necessary to become a well individual. In our next article, we’ll begin discussing the dimensions of wellness in detail.

If you’re interested in how to incorporate stress management or connectedness into your life or practice, we can help. Please browse our Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness lectures and workshop offerings or reach out to us directly using the Contact Us option on our main page.


[1] Dean Ornish, MD Transforming Lives + Healthcare. Accessed 2016/10/31.

[2] Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Brown SE, Gould KL, Merritt TA, Sparler S, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, Kirkeeide RL, Hogeboom C, Brand RJ. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease.JAMA. 1998 Dec 16;280(23):2001-7.

[3] Silberman A, Banthia R, Estay IS, Kemp C, Studley J, Hareras D, Ornish D.The effectiveness and efficacy of an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program in 24 sites. Am J Health Promot. 2010 Mar-Apr;24(4):260-6. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.24.4.arb.

[4] Ornish D, Lin J, Chan JM, Epel E, Kemp C, Weidner G, Marlin R, Frenda SJ, Magbanua MJ, Daubenmier J, Estay I, Hills NK, Chainani-Wu N, Carroll PR, Blackburn EH. Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study. Lancet Oncol. 2013 Oct;14(11):1112-20. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(13)70366-8. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

[5] Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. The Proven Lifestyle. Copyright 2016. Accessed 2016/10/31.

[6] American Heart Association. How does stress affect you. Copyright 2016. Accessed 2016/10/31.

[7] Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. Stress management. Copyright 2016. Accessed 2016/10/31.

[8] Chen Y, Yang X, Wang L, Zhang X. A randomized controlled trial of the effects of brief mindfulness meditation on anxiety symptoms and systolic blood pressure in Chinese nursing students. Nurse Educ Today. 2013 Oct;33(10):1166-72. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2012.11.014. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

[9] Ankad RB1, Herur A, Patil S, Shashikala GV, Chinagudi S. Effect of short-term pranayama and meditation on cardiovascular functions in healthy individuals. Heart Views. 2011 Apr;12(2):58-62. doi: 10.4103/1995-705X.86016.

[10] Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. Love & support. Copyright 2016. Accessed 2016/10/31.

[11] Holwerda TJ, van Tilburg TG, Deeg DJ, Schutter N, Van R, Dekker J, Stek ML, Beekman AT, Schoevers RA. Impact of loneliness and depression on mortality: results from the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam. Br J Psychiatry. 2016 Aug;209(2):127-34. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.115.168005. Epub 2016 Apr 21.

[12] Buettner, Dan. The blue zones 9 lessons for living longer from people who’ve lived the longest. 2nd edition. Washington, DC: The National Geographic Society; 2012.

Pioneers in Lifestyle Medicine—Nathan Pritikin (1915-1985)


According to American National Biography Online (ANBO), Nathan Pritikin was not a medical professional by trade. He was a college dropout and wealthy inventor who, in his forties, was diagnosed with leukemia and heart disease. His illness inspired his interest in nutrition and Pritikin believed healthy lifestyle and exercise were the key to curing many common diseases. As ANBO goes on to note, by adopting a Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness program centered on nutrition and exercise, he saved his own life and saved many more lives yet he was ridiculed by the medical community and never received recognition for his accomplishments during his lifetime [1].

Pritikin’s Dietary Recommendations for Wellness

shutterstock_349494845Pritikin’s research led him to believe that diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancer were “not diseases, but symptoms of chronic metabolic injury resulting from the highly processed, artificial diet eaten in developed areas, principally from the excessive amounts of cholesterol and fat consumed [2].” He promoted a whole foods diet that was rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. He recommended his clients consume “less than 10% fat, 10% to 15% protein, 75% to 80% mainly complex carbohydrates [3].” According to the Pritikin website, Pritikin’s cholesterol fell from over 300 to 120 and, after his death, his autopsy showed he was completely free of heart disease [4].

Current Research and Findings

Nathan Pritikin’s program obviously worked for him. His center boasts many success stories and has funded multiple studies with findings that support his recommendations [4], but does the research of other Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness practitioners support his findings?

shutterstock_217067143Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has followed a group of 18 heart patients for over 12 years. These patients “agreed to follow a plant-based diet with <10% of calories derived from fat. They were asked to eliminate oil, dairy products (except skim milk and no-fat yogurt), fish, fowl, and meat. They were encouraged to eat grains, legumes, lentils, vegetables, and fruit [5].” During the fifth year of treatment, 11 of those patients underwent testing and 100% showed no further progression of their disease while 73% showed reversal of the disease [6]. During the subsequent seven years, all patients except one have continued to follow the diet and experienced no heart issues [5].

The Lifestyle Heart Trial, conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish et al, followed 48 heart disease patients over the course of a year—28 patients agreed to a low-fat vegetarian diet, no smoking, moderate exercise, and stress management training while 20 patients were placed on standard care. At the conclusion, 82% of the experimental group showed signs of regression while the standard treatment group trended towards progression [7].

Many more studies show similar trends with diabetes and high blood pressure [8-10]. Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness practice through healthy eating and exercise have demonstrated positive impact on heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure as Pritikin premised.


After suffering years of derision, Nathan Pritikin’s dietary recommendations were posthumously adopted by the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, the National Cancer Institute, the National Academy of Sciences and Health, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [1]. Esselstyn’s and Ornish’s research has reinforced and expanded upon Pritikin’s theories. We will consider each of these pioneers and their research in future blog posts.

Echoing the principles set forth by these pioneers in Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness, our Center offers several programs on Nutritional Counseling and Behavior Change Counseling. We encourage you to check out our offerings under the Academics and Services menu.


[1] Brudvig JL. Nathan Pritikin. American National Biography Online. Copyright 2000-2008. Oxford Press. Accessed 2016/10/13.

[2] Pritikin N. Optimal dietary recommendations: a public health responsibility. Prev Med. 1982 Nov;11(6):733-9. doi:10.1016/0091-7435(82)90037-8.

[3] Pritikin N. The Pritikin Diet. JAMA. 1984;251(9):1160-1161. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340330022007.

[4] Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa. Copyright 2015. Accessed 2016/10/13.

[5] Esselstyn CB Jr. Updating a 12-year experience with arrest and reversal therapy for coronary heart disease (an overdue requiem for palliative cardiology). Am J Cardiol. 1999 Aug 1;84(3):339-41, A8.

[6] Esselstyn CB Jr, Ellis SG, Medendorp SV, Crowe TD. A strategy to arrest and reverse coronary artery disease: a 5-year longitudinal study of a single physician’s practice. J Fam Prac 1995;41:560 –568.

[7] Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, McLanahan SM, Kirkeeide RL, Brand RJ, Gould KL. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary artery disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet, 336 (1990), pp. 129–133.

[8] Barnard RJ, Lattimore L, Holly RG, Cherny S, Pritikin N. Diabetes Care. 1982, Vol.5(4), pp.370-374.

[9] Puska P, Iacono JM, Nissinen A, et al:  Controlled, randomised trial of the effect of dietary fat on blood pressure. Lancet 1983;1:1-5.

[10] Delichatsios HK, Welty FK.Influence of the DASH diet and other low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets on blood pressure. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2005 Nov;7(6):446-54.

Pioneers in Lifestyle Medicine—Hippocrates

hippocratesIn our last Medicine and Wellness Care blog, we defined Lifestyle Medicine as
“the therapeutic use of lifestyle, such as a predominately whole food, plant-based diet, exercise, stress management, tobacco and alcohol cessation, and other non-drug modalities, to prevent, treat, and, more importantly, reverse the lifestyle-related, chronic disease [1].” We described “Wellness Care” as the wellbeing of the individual as a whole—social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual, and physical [2]. We also discussed Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care’s importance given the rates of preventable disease and rising costs of healthcare. Building on that foundation, we’re introducing a series of blogs covering pioneers in Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care. We’ll be comparing their research and recommendations to the current body of research to see how the science behind Lifestyle Medicine has held up over time.

Hippocrates’ Life and Contribution to Medicine

Hippocrates is one of the most widely quoted physicians in history. Performing a Google search for “Hippocrates quotes” yields 334,000 results. Hippocrates was a physician who lived during Classical period in Greece. Encyclopedia Britannica describes Hippocrates was “a great physician who exercised a permanent influence on the development of medicine and on the ideals and ethics of the physician [3].” Since few texts can be confirmed to be written by him, we’ll use quotes widely attributed to him for our comparison to recent research.

Hippocrates and Patient Empathy

Three quotes summarize Hippocrates’ beliefs about how physicians should
interact with patients.

  • “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity [4].”
  • “Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always [4].”
  • “It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has [4].”

walkerA key principle of Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care is a warm, trusting relationship between physician and patient. The patient and medical professionals function as a team—the medical professional as coach, providing guidance and identifying patient motivators, and the patient as an active participant in treatment. Research shows that patient empathy is essential for successful coaching and positive patient outcomes. Di Blasi, Harkness, Ernst, Georgiou, and Kleijnen concluded “physicians who adopt a warm, friendly, and reassuring manner are more effective than those who keep consultations formal and do not offer reassurance [5].” Similarly, Kelley, Kraft-Todd, Schapira, Kossowsky, and Riess found that the physician client relationship had a “small, but statistically significant effect on healthcare outcomes [6].” Frates, Moore, Lopez, and McMahon, posit that a positive coaching relationship between physician and patient “builds the psychologic skills needed to support lasting change, including mindfulness, self-awareness, self-motivation, resilience, optimism, and self-efficacy [7].” Based on the research above, we can clearly see Hippocrates’ belief in patient empathy is supported by current evidence.

Hippocrates and Healthy Lifestyle

Hippocrates believed proper food and exercise are the key to health.

  • “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food [4].”
  • “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health [4].”
  • “Walking is man’s best medicine [4].”

cookingProper nutrition and physical activity are cornerstones of Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care. Kvaavik, Batty, Ursin, Huxley, and Gale’s analysis of the “United Kingdom Health and Lifestyle Survey” revealed “low consumption of fruits and vegetables, and low levels of physical activity are associated, both independently and when combined, with increased risk of premature mortality [8].” Participants from the Potsdam study who had never smoked, maintained a BMI of less than 30, exercised an average of 3.5 hours per week, and regularly ate a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains reduced their risk of chronic disease by 78 percent [9]. Luprinzi, Lee and Cardinal discovered that seniors who regularly participated in more than 300 minutes of physical activity per week demonstrated healthier “BMI, systolic blood pressure, waist circumference, triceps skinfold, C-reactive protein, white blood cells, neutrophils, glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, and HbA1C, and had fewer chronic diseases [10].” From this evidence, we can see that Hippocrates’ beliefs on nutrition and physical activity are also supported.


Our first pioneer’s ideas and philosophies regarding Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness care have stood for centuries and are still applicable today. Over the coming weeks we’ll discuss additional pioneers in Lifestyle Medicine. We’ll build on what we learned about patient empathy and discuss how to build a coaching relationship with patients. Today we discussed how nutrition and physical activity impact physical wellness. We’ll discuss expand on how nutrition and physical activity impact each of the Seven Dimensions of Wellness. To learn more about the philosophies and models used in Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care, we encourage you to explore the Tools and Resources sections of our site.


[1] American College of Lifestyle Medicine. What is lifestyle medicine. Copyright 2015. Accessed 2016/09/02.

[2] University of California, Riverside. Seven dimensions of wellness. Copyright 2014. Accessed 2016/09/12.

[3] Smith, WD. Hippocrates Greek physician. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed 2016/09/27.

[4] Brainy Quote. Hippocrates Quotes. Copyright 2016. Accessed 2016/09/27. h/hippocrates.html.

[5] Di Blasi Z, Harkness E, Ernst E, Georgiou A, Kleijnen J. Influence of context effects on health outcomes: a systematic review. Lancet. 2001 Mar 10;357:757-62.

[6] Kelley JM, Kraft-Todd G, Schapira L, Kossowsky J, Riess H. The influence of the patient-clinician relationship on healthcare outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2014 Apr 9;9:e94207.

[7] Frates EP, Moore MA, Lopez CN, McMahon GT. Coaching for behavior change in physiatry. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Dec;90:1074-82.

[8] Kvaavik E, Batty GD, Ursin G, Huxley RD, Gale CR. Influence of individual and combined health behaviors on total and cause-specific mortality in men and women the United Kingdom health and lifestyle survey. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(8):711-718. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.76.

[9] Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kröger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Aug 10;169(15):1355-62. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.237.

[10] Loprinzi PD, Lee H, Cardinal BJ. Evidence to support including lifestyle light-intensity recommendations in physical activity guidelines for older adults. Am J Health Promot. 2015 May-Jun;29(5):277-84. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.130709-QUAN-354. Epub 2014 Feb 27.

Welcome to our first Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care blog!

Whether you are a medical professional, researcher, patient, or the public, the Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care topics covered in this blog will be beneficial to you. Our goal is to cover a wealth of topics including: summarizations of the latest scientific research studies in Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care, coaching and motivational tips for personal, professional, and patient use, and articles focusing on specific areas and specialties within Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care.

What is Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care?

blog1The American College of Lifestyle Medicine defines Lifestyle Medicine as “the therapeutic use of lifestyle, such as a predominately whole food, plant-based diet, exercise, stress management, tobacco and alcohol cessation, and other non-drug modalities, to prevent, treat, and, more importantly, reverse the lifestyle-related, chronic disease [1].” Lifestyle Medicine provides an evidence-based framework for building wellness through simple lifestyle changes. The patient and medical professionals function as a team—the medical professional as a coach, providing guidance and identifying patient motivators, strength, possibilities, resources, barriers, etc., and the patient as an active participant in treatment. In contrast to traditional medicine, Lifestyle Medicine is unique because it has not only the ability to prevent, treat, and reverse lifestyle-related diseases but also to promote and sustain life and health-enhancing lifestyle. We use the term “Wellness Care” with Lifestyle Medicine to encompass the well-being, well-living, and well-living of the individual as a whole—spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, social, occupational, and environmental [2].

Why are Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care Important?

Lifestyle-related diseases are illnesses caused by the way we live—our thinking and feeling habit (e.g. meaning, belief, mindset, emotion), relationships, nutrition, hours of sleep, perceived stress levels, physical activity or lack thereof, chemical addictions, or occupational style. The most common lifestyle-related diseases include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, and some forms of cancer.  In 2012, Ward, Schiller and Goodman revealed pervasiveness of chronic disease by discovering that 50 percent of adults in the US (117 million) have one or more chronic diseases [3]. Further emphasizing the impact and severity of chronic disease, the US Centers for Disease Control determined that seven out of ten of the leading causes of death were chronic diseases and 48 percent of those were related to heart disease and cancer [4].

The prevalence of chronic disease underscores the need for immediate action, but how much does lifestyle impact the rate of disease? The World Health Organization states that “at least 80% of all heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes would be prevented; over 40% of cancer would be prevented [5].”  With the rising costs of healthcare around the world, the need for Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care are undeniable. Unlike traditional medicine, Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care provide a complete, balanced plan tailored to the needs of the individual covering all aspects of wellness not just the physical component. Imagine what we could do if we eliminated 80% of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes cases. Resources expended in researching and treating lifestyle-related disease could be redirected towards diseases that are not preventable.

How is Lifestyle Medicine different from Alternative Medicine?

blog2You may be wondering if Lifestyle Medicine is just another name for Alternative Medicine. The differences lie in their definitions. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines alternative medicine as a “non-mainstream practice used in place of conventional medicine [6].” Lifestyle Medicine is used to prevent a disease that would be treated with conventional medicine not to replace it. In instances where a disease has been diagnosed, it is used in concert with conventional medicine with a goal of reversing the disease or making it manageable. Lifestyle Medicine is always evidence based. While it may employ techniques that have long been considered alternative medicine (yoga, meditation, reiki), it only incorporates techniques and practices which are backed by multiple scientific studies.


Building on the Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care foundations discussed above, we will focus on many topics over the coming weeks including:

  • Using motivational interviewing techniques with patients to encourage change [7]
  • Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones and how relationships impact the length of your life [8]
  • Dean Ornish’s work with reversing heart disease [9]
  • The role plant-based nutrition in healthy lifestyles
  • Exercise prescriptions
  • Emotional intelligence and positive psychology
  • Stress management and resiliency techniques
  • Rest and Sleep hygiene
  • And many more

Please join us for our next blog. Check out the rest of the web site for information about us, our mission and the programs we offer.



[1] American College of Lifestyle Medicine. What is lifestyle medicine. Copyright 2015. Accessed 2016/09/02.

[2] University of California, Riverside. Seven Dimensions of Wellness. Copyright 2014. Accessed 2016/09/12.

[3] Ward BW, Schiller JS, Goodman RA. Multiple chronic conditions among US adults: a 2012 update. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:130389. DOI:

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Death and mortality. NCHS FastStats Web site. Accessed 2016/09/02.

[5] World Health Organization. Chronic diseases and health promotion overview – preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment. Copyright 2016. Accessed 2016/09/02.

[6] National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: what’s in a name? Copyright 2016. Accessed 2016/09/02.

[7] Egger G, Binns A, Rossner S. Lifestyle medicine managing diseases of lifestyle in the 21st century. 2nd ed. Australia: McGraw-Hill; 2011.

[8] Buettner D. The blue zones second edition: 9 lessons of living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest. 2nd ed. Washington DC: National Geographic Society; 2012.

[9] Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, et al. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? Lancet. 1990;336:129-133.