What Is a Lifestyle?

A lifestyle is a set of values, beliefs, attitudes, interests, habits and patterns of behavior that describe the way an individual or group lives. It includes daily choices about work, leisure, consumption, entertainment and health-promoting activities. It also encompasses the broader aspects of an individual's or group's culture, including holidays, pastimes and traditions. A person's lifestyle can include a range of healthy habits, such as regular exercise and balanced diets, adequate sleep and relaxation, abstaining from smoking and drinking nonessential drugs and moderate use of alcohol. A healthy lifestyle can be associated with increased levels of physical and mental well-being. It is important to be aware of the impact that one's lifestyle can have on the environment, especially in relation to the consumption of natural resources and energy. The concept of lifestyle has been studied extensively in a number of fields, including sociology, psychology and medicine. It has also been used as a tool for understanding the effects of social class on people's overall quality of life. Studies of the effect of lifestyle on health and wellness have focused on both the positive effects of health-promoting behaviors and the negative impacts of unhealthy choices. Scientists have long urged individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices, and several recent meta-analyses of health outcome data indicate that adherence to healthy habits is associated with reduced risk of major illness. A healthy lifestyle is a personal choice and can be defined as an individual's unique pattern of activities, habits and preferences that maximize health, well-being and enjoyment. The concept of healthy living is based on the principles of self-care and the belief that an individual can take control of his or her health through lifestyle choices, rather than simply treating symptoms as they occur. The definition of a healthy lifestyle has evolved in response to research and changing health concerns. It now includes the promotion of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and other preventative measures such as getting enough sleep and stress management. It also emphasizes the importance of community and connection. The idea of a lifestyle can be applied to any area of a person's life, but is most often discussed in the context of the cultural or personal characteristics that shape how he or she chooses to live. In sociology, the term "lifestyle" has become synonymous with the ways that a person or group organizes his or her everyday activities to achieve specific goals and to meet particular needs. This includes the way a person or group selects his or her clothes, where to travel, what to eat and drink, how to spend leisure time, the friends with whom to associate and what political or religious beliefs to hold. It can also refer to the way a person or group organizes work and family responsibilities. This can be as simple as choosing to have a home office instead of going into an office every day, or as complex as organizing a career around raising children and caring for elderly relatives.