If the idea of empowering people to live healthier lives sounds exciting, you may consider starting on the path to becoming a health coach. With 6 in 10 Americans living with at least one chronic disease, health solutions and preventive wellness have never been more crucial. People are increasingly turning to health coaches and educators to help them live healthier lifestyles. Google’s 2021 Year in Search results illustrate this momentum, as “women’s health” was searched more than ever before in the United States, while interest in mental health broke records globally.
Vicki Sheerin of Orlando, Florida, pursued an online degree in health science after developing a passion for health and wellness once she realized that improved lifestyle habits would allow her to be more active in her children’s lives.
“I once struggled with weight gain, then had a moment in 2018 where I felt a spark telling me I had to do something about it,” Sheerin said. “My fire and determination [for this profession] came from seeing how much my weight loss was having a ripple effect in others’ lives.”
What does a health and fitness coach do?
Lifestyle and fitness practitioners are expert facilitators of mindset and behavior change, and they design, communicate and utilize evidence-based physical activity programs to improve their clients’ health and wellness. Health coaches empower people to take control of their well-being by fostering a sense of purpose and cultivating lasting behavioral changes necessary to optimize well-being and help prevent disease.
Health coaches are not limited to working in any singular location. “[Those with a background or degree in fitness science can] work in the burgeoning field of wellness, supporting health and well-being in a variety of settings working with individuals, groups or communities,” according to Dr. Devi Davis-Strong, lecturer at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions.
By becoming a health coach, you can help others improve their health through guidance and counseling, providing the resources necessary to advance the wellness of individuals and communities alike.
How can I turn my interest in health and fitness sciences into a career?
After developing your interest and enhancing your skills in health and wellness, you’ll be prepared for a diverse range of positions in worksite wellness, community wellness and fitness centers, health coaching, health education and health promotion, including:
- Health and wellness coach.
- Behavior management specialist.
- Occupational health and safety specialist.
- Medical and health services manager.
- Community health worker.
- Fitness and wellness coordinator.
- Medical and health services manager.
- Postsecondary health specialties teacher.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts much higher than average job growth for group fitness instructors and health education specialists over the next decade. These careers are expected to grow 39% and 17% between 2020 and 2030, respectively.
How can I develop my skills as a health coach?
To create such lasting change as a wellness coach, you should be knowledgeable about evidence-based processes of lifestyle change and lifestyle, wellness, and positive psychological knowledge and skills. Your first step to entering this fulfilling career path is finding an educational program that builds your key competencies in health, wellness and fitness science in areas such as:
- Physical fitness.
- Stress management.
- Coaching and behavioral health psychology.
- Anatomy and physiology.
- Evidence-based practice.
When you’re choosing your degree, make sure its focus aligns with your goals and provides you the foundation to pursue your desired career path.
Arizona State University offers a first-of-its-kind Bachelor of Science in health sciences with a concentration in healthy lifestyles and fitness science online. According to Dr. Karen Gregory-Mercado, degree director and senior lecturer, ASU Online’s program provides online simulated hands-on experiential learning that is uniquely centered on the following:
- Healthy lifestyles, which focuses on teaching skills and competencies supporting meaningful behavioral changes and improved well-being by expanding knowledge about health theories, coaching psychology, ethical principles and evidence-based applications in nutrition, stress and substance use/abuse.
- Fitness sciences, which prepares students to design, communicate and utilize evidence-based physical activity programs.
A degree in this area can lead you to a fulfilling career or prepare you for advanced certification, such as the nationally accredited certification in health and fitness areas from the American College of Sports Medicine.
“These certifications, in addition to coursework, prepare graduates for opportunities in worksite wellness, community wellness and fitness centers, health coaching, health education and health promotion,” Dr. Davis-Strong said.
Whether you are seeking to turn your interest in health and wellness into your next profession or simply want to improve your personal approach to your health, ASU Online is here to guide you on your path to success.