What Is a Lifestyle?

A lifestyle is a set of patterns of behaviour that determine the way a person lives. It is influenced by an individual’s socioeconomic situation and his or her cultural environment. A healthy lifestyle is one that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise and rest, positive mental health, and abstaining from smoking and excessive use of alcohol. This type of lifestyle can help prevent illness, promote a long and active life and save money and resources.

Various theories exist for describing and classifying lifestyles. Generally speaking, they differ from each other in terms of the main focus: social positioning for some models (Weber, Bourdieu), the internal dimension for others and the emphasis on practices and behaviours for some more recent trends.

According to the dictionary, lifestyle is the way a person lives in relation to society and is determined by his or her preferences in a wide range of areas including: consumption, entertainment, travel, dress, choice of work and education, home furnishings and even his or her interests. It reflects a person’s values and worldview.

In a broad sense, the term lifestyle is used in marketing to identify consumers’ purchasing habits and their behaviours. The concept enables a wide range of products to be targeted and positioned in the marketplace according to the consumer’s lifestyle characteristics.

A growing number of people are trying to change their lifestyles in order to improve their health. In fact, the current definition of a healthy lifestyle, which was introduced by the World Health Organisation in 1946, defines it as “a complete state of physical and mental well-being not merely the absence of disease”.

It is important to note that this definition does not include any specific activity or behaviour. A healthy lifestyle should involve all aspects of a person’s daily routine, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise, abstaining from smoking and excessive use and abuse of alcohol, moderate intake of drugs and obtaining adequate rest and relaxation.

The question is, however, whether the lifestyle that most people live today really fulfils this objective. Many researchers argue that the lifestyle of most people does not encourage healthy activities and, to a large extent, is detrimental to health. In addition, this way of living consumes a lot of natural resources and energy and is a major source of stress.

These facts have led to the development of a wide variety of theories for describing the lifestyle of individuals. For example, some of them focus on the internal dimension and suggest that a person’s lifestyle is based on a fundamental character, defined in childhood, which he or she builds up throughout his or her early years. Other theories, on the other hand, describe a person’s lifestyle as a combination of the behavioural pattern and his or her attitudes, beliefs and values. This view is closer to the idea of personality, as it is traditionally conceived by psychologists.