The Conceptualisation of Lifestyle

An individual’s lifestyle is the way he or she lives. It is influenced by personal beliefs, values and attitudes. It includes a person’s choices of leisure activities, food, drink and clothing. It also reflects the person’s attitude towards work, family, friends and community. A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, a balanced diet and good quality sleep. It also avoids smoking and unnecessary use of alcohol and medication.A range of theories and definitions have been used and analysed to explain and describe lifestyle. These have been formulated in various scientific disciplines such as sociology, psychology and health sciences. The objective of this article is to shed light on the different interpretations and approaches to lifestyle, highlighting the main concepts that characterise it.In the psychological field, the concept of lifestyle has been approached in several ways, based on internal and external dimensions. Psychological studies have used and interpreted the lifestyle construct at three levels: at the global level, intertwined with a world consumer class; at the structural level, intertwined with societal subcultures; and at the positional level, intertwined with ego identity.The external dimension has been approached in two different ways: the first, which is more recent, has referred to lifestyle as a style of personality. These conceptualisations emphasized the importance of an organisation of personality, a set of values and a pattern of behaviour justified by these values. These currents of research were criticised for the fact that they did not clearly link thought and behaviour or that they positioned personality traits at a distance from the action context (for example, the theory of Rokeach).The second line of psychological research on lifestyle has viewed it as an expression of social classes. This view has referred to the theories of Weber and Bourdieu, in which lifestyle is seen as an expression of class identity. This approach has been criticised for the fact that it does not explain the existence of the same lifestyles within a given society or that it places lifestyles at a distance from the context of consumption.At the same time, many people have been concerned with a healthy lifestyle. It is widely accepted that a healthy lifestyle includes a good balance of activities, habits and choices of daily living. This type of lifestyle is associated with a greater physical and mental well-being and reduces the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.This is reflected in the popularity of many types of food and drink, such as low fat products, yoghurt and sports drinks. In addition, there are many lifestyle magazines and television programmes that encourage a healthier lifestyle. Lastly, a number of pharmaceutical drugs have been developed that can help to improve the quality of life by reducing anxiety and stress or treating insomnia and depression. These are known as lifestyle drugs. A number of companies have been formed to sell these products.