How Lifestyle Affects Your Health

While genetics and environment play a large role in determining your health, you have control over certain lifestyle choices. Healthy habits like regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, and adequate sleep can reduce your risk for chronic diseases, increase your energy, and even add years to your life. In addition, being socially connected, eating a balanced diet, and getting a good night’s rest help to keep your mental health strong.

The concept of “lifestyle” has long been a research topic in sociology, psychology, and medicine. It is defined and analysed in different ways by each of these fields, but there are three interpretative keys that characterise the main definitions: internal, external, and temporal.

Theories that emphasise the internal dimension of lifestyle consider it a way of living, a system of values, or a pattern of behaviour justified by attitudes and orientations. They are mainly of sociological origin and can be differentiated according to their main focus: the social positioning (for models of Weber and Bourdieu), the emphasis on practice and behaviour (especially in consumer psychology), or the attention to personality traits (as for the work of Adler).

Psychological and medical perspectives generally tend to use the term as a description of individual behavioural patterns, especially those that influence the status of a disease. They also consider the frequency of certain risks, such as smoking and alcohol consumption.

In this context, the concept of lifestyle has also been used by the media to describe the way in which celebrities, athletes, politicians, and other public figures lead their lives, in terms of their interests, hobbies, and habits. This is a broad interpretation that can include many aspects of personal life, such as the choice of entertainment, food, fashion, and travel.

A growing number of scientists are exploring lifestyle from a health perspective, and some have even developed a scale to measure an individual’s level of health-related wellness. They have identified some lifestyle characteristics that contribute to an optimal level of health: fitness, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and spirituality. They are also working on identifying the environmental factors that can affect these health-related lifestyles.