Lifestyle has been defined as the general attitudes, behaviors, interests, and behavioral orientations of a person, community, or group. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his early 1929 book, The Case of Miss R. with the more contemporary meaning of “the general characteristics of a person established early on”. In the years since then, however, this word has taken on a much broader meaning, as it is used to refer to the general traits and characteristics of individuals and groups. It is thus used today in a much wider spectrum of contexts, including business, education, and politics.
The word lifestyle is also related to the word culture. Lifestyle has a great deal to do with attitudes, values, customs, beliefs, and practices of individuals, their families, and their countries. Thus, a healthy lifestyle is basically a mixture of different lifestyles (e.g., religious, cultural, academic, occupational, linguistic, etc. ), all coming from a variety of background and representing diverse cultures.
It is important to note that there is a difference between the word lifestyle and the word culture. A culture is a group of people who have commonalities in language, norms, values, and habits, and who, within that group, practice similar types of behavior (e.g., social networking, sharing, participating in formal ceremonies, etc.). Lifestyles are essentially individualistic and do not reflect any shared norms or values. Lifestyle choices, therefore, can be compared to that of a fashion style, where new fashions are developed and introduced over time. The development of a particular lifestyle is, for the most part, independent of culture, as it is shaped by the individual and their own values and attitudes.
Many theorists claim that people are motivated to live lifestyles that match their values, which in turn determines the nature and structure of their personal identity. Charles Darwin, for example, pointed out that, “Lifestyles, like habits, seem to proceed directly from the tastes of the flesh…Lifestyles differ as much from one man to another as the colors of the hair in the hair of the same man vary from the colors of his eyes.” Furthermore, it has been noted by many modern researchers that personal values, which are beliefs about the significance of human life and the world to a person, are not only formed by personal experience but are also deeply rooted in culture and heritage. Thus, even within a single culture, there are many differing views on life, its value, and what it means to be human, as each culture has its own symbols, traditions, philosophies, and practices. Thus, while all cultures share aspects of common lifestyle, still it is individualistic to varying extents in the degree to which these shared elements are individualized.
Some would argue that the promotion of the ‘active lifestyle’ – i.e. physical exercise, working out, eating right and engaging in social interaction is what has helped to create a healthier lifestyle in Western society. However, the fact remains that most people do not engage in these types of activities on a daily basis and are therefore not meeting the recommended daily recommended levels of physical activity.
So what exactly is a healthy lifestyle? According to many lifestyle gurus, it is a combination of the three: Healthy Lifestyle, Live Healthy Lifestyle and Live Well Lifestyle. Live Healthy Lifestyle by its very definition encompasses the idea that individuals should lead healthy and active lives through a balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, moderate exercise routines, minimal consumption of tobacco products, and avoidance of environmental toxins such as air pollution and lead acidity. Live Healthy Lifestyle by also implies that people should make informed choices about their lifestyle choices, be aware of their daily environment, and set reasonable goals for themselves, in order to achieve these goals. Finally, Live Well Lifestyle by its definitions above suggests that those who follow these definitions are living a healthy lifestyle in the true sense of the word.