The first talk of promoting health through lifestyle changes emerged in the 1950s. Due to high rates of cancer, heart disease, and strokes at the time, workplaces began investing in health and wellness programs for their employees. In the 1960s and ‘70s, supported by the federal government, employers caught on to holistic health as a way to increase the productivity of their workers. By the 1980s, many large corporations had fully established wellness programs covering a range of issues like smoking, stress, nutrition and weight management.

As the definition of wellness evolved, the idea of coaching individuals gained more support. The modern health coaching movement began in the early 1990s, with some buzz in the form of articles and press coverage happening in the early 2000s. 

But, health coaching in this decade is different than what it was in the past. Let’s dive into what health coaching looks like today—and why it might be the right path for you.

What Is Health Coaching?

Health coaching is an approach to improving someone’s health and wellbeing by guiding them through habit and lifestyle changes. Health coaching offers one-on-one interaction with a skilled health expert that has broad knowledge in areas like health, career, relationships, money and mental wellness. 

In the past, if an individual wanted to change multiple aspects of their life, they would have had to go to multiple professionals like a life coach, personal trainer and nutritionist. Now they can utilize a health coach to address each area without needing to visit experts in different fields.

Does Health Coaching Really Work?

According to this 2017 study on the clinical effectiveness of lifestyle health coaching, health coaching helped improve blood pressure markers, cholesterol, body weight and more. 

Overall, health coaches help clients make lasting changes that align with their values. They do that by:

  • Helping clients discover the “why” behind their lifestyle and health changes
  • Empowering clients to know and develop agency around their bodies and minds
  • Helping clients see the challenges and blind spots that prevent them from change
  • Providing one-on-one support and acting as an accountability buddy
  • Using their knowledge of health and wellness to help clients move through a wide array of lifestyle concerns

Why Become a Health Coach?

There are several reasons why becoming a health coach could be a great career choice for you. Common reasons include:

  • Ability to make a meaningful impact on someone else’s life
  • Ability to focus on your specific wellness niche of interest
  • Ability to set your own schedule and work from home 

6 Principles and Techniques of Health Coaching

There are several health coaching principles and techniques that you should know before you start your career. 

1. Remain client-centered. This ensures that clients are the catalyst and center of the work, while the coach remains the guide and accountability partner.  

2. Remain health-focused and evidence-based. The coach makes sure that developing healthier habits and lifestyle changes is the main goal, while keeping the client up-to-date on the latest health and lifestyle data.

3. Utilize positive psychology. While traditional psychology focuses on what’s “wrong” with someone and what needs to be “fixed,” positive psychology focuses on harnessing the client’s strengths to address and make behavioral changes. 

4. Utilize accountability and goal-setting. This helps clients build achievable goals and stay on track. 

5. Reverse unhealthy habits. Coaches work with clients to examine pre-existing negative habits and learn to create new, positive ones. 

6. Evaluate effectiveness. Coaches look at the progress made with their client, compare them to the client’s initial goals and desired outcomes, and assess the success of the coaching.

Join HCI to Become a Certified Coach

Does the history of health coaching inspire you to enter the wellness realm? Check out HCI’s Become a Health & Life Coach dual certification program! The 6-week course offers a variety of programs designed and tailored to meet your coaching needs. Plus, if you’re a graduate of the entry-level coaching program, you can take your business to the next level with the 12-month Coach Mastery course


Health Coach Institute provides aspiring Health and Life Coaches with the tools, training, and support to make a great living transforming lives.