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Healthy Lifestyle: Definition and Benefits

Healthy Lifestyle: Definition and Benefits

What is a healthy lifestyle? Find out about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and discover tips and ideas you can use to make your life healthier.



We all want to live healthy, happy lives. Some of us are fortunate to lead healthy lifestyles already, but others might be unaware of their harmful habits or find healthier options difficult or impractical.


Those of us who know our lifestyles could benefit from a few changes may resolve to implement healthy habits sometime later, such as the first day of the new year or after completing a demanding project at work. 


Yet, many get caught up in a whirlwind of busyness and never fully commit to those resolutions. Often, we continue treating the needs of others or our careers as priorities and ignore our physical and mental health. Thus, eventually, our self-neglect starts chipping away at our well-being.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can improve our general health and mood and extend our life expectancy. In this article, we will define what a healthy lifestyle is and discuss its benefits. We will also learn about healthy lifestyle habits and discover tips to reach your wellness goals.



What Is A Healthy Lifestyle? (A Definition)

There is more than one way to stay healthy, and if you asked people around you what a healthy lifestyle is, chances are you’d get a different answer every time.


 This difference stems from the fact that everyone makes choices based on their cultural and personal priorities and can only access options available within their socioeconomic and geographical environments (Cockerham, 2021).


Therefore, a healthy lifestyle can be defined as a health-promoting behavior pattern based on available personal choices.

So what do we mean by health-promoting behavior patterns? Simply put, they might be any habits associated with positive health outcomes as well as the lack of health-harming practices.


 With so many choice combinations, it is essential to understand the benefits of healthy choices and distinguish them from unhealthy choices.



Healthy Lifestyle Benefits


Scientists have long been conducting studies focused on the effects of lifestyle on health and wellbeing.


A large meta-analysis that included the health outcome data of over 500,000 individuals concluded that adherence to a healthy lifestyle was linked to lower mortality risk (Loef and Walach, 2012).

A more recent study tracked the health habits and outcomes of over 120,000 participants for three decades.


Individuals that met the researcher’s healthy lifestyle criteria were far less likely to die prematurely because of cardiovascular disease or cancer (Li et al., 2018).


But how much lower is the risk of premature deaths when people live healthy lifestyles? According to this study, women with healthy habits lived an average of fourteen years longer than their counterparts with unhealthy lifestyles (Li et al., 2018).


 In contrast, men with healthy lifestyles lived approximately twelve additional years (Li et al., 2018).


Of course, a longer lifespan isn’t the only benefit of a healthy lifestyle. A study with over 3,000 men and women between ages 55 and 85 has shown that individuals with healthy lifestyles performed better than their counterparts in all measures (Visser et al., 2018).


For instance, the individuals in the healthy lifestyle group were faster in physical agility tests and less likely to display symptoms of depression (Visser et al., 2018).


They also had slower declines in cognitive function and social interactions (Visser et al., 2018).

In short, living a healthy lifestyle can help us feel healthier and be less likely to be depressed.


 Moreover, we might live an additional decade by adopting health-promoting habits.



Opposite of A Healthy Lifestyle


When we are asked to describe what an unhealthy lifestyle is, most of us can immediately come up with a long list of behaviors that put our health and well-being at risk, even though they may feel good.

 In short, a lifestyle that includes choices that lead to adverse health outcomes is the opposite of a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ‌behaviors that are typically associated with unhealthy lifestyles.

·     Binge-eating or overeating

·     Anorexia or other unhealthy caloric restrictions

·     Consuming processed foods and beverages

·     Heavy drinking

·     Smoking

·     Using drugs

·     Gambling

·     Poor hygiene

·     Lack of physical activity

·     Lack of adequate sleep

·     Spending too much time on social media or watching TV

·     Risky sexual behaviors

·     Skipping routine medical and dental checkups



You might have noticed that this list doesn't contain every unhealthy choice.

Moreover, several other practices sneak into our routines by appearing healthy (i.e., fad diets and juice cleanses).

Nevertheless, these behaviors may end up damaging our well-being in the long run.

Although the unhealthy effects of the behaviors on this list and elsewhere are apparent to most, many people find it hard to disengage their lifestyles from one or more of them.

Generally, the reason for our inability to quit unhealthy behaviors is trifold; these behaviors feel good, are easily accessible or more effortless than their healthier counterparts, and have become habits in the past.

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