We explain what a lifestyle is, the origin of this concept and examples of both healthy and harmful lifestyles.

Exercise is a central part of a healthy lifestyle.

What is a lifestyle?

When we talk about lifestyle or life habits, we usually refer to a combination of tangible and intangible factors, that is, physical and psychological or cultural aspects that make up the way of life of an individual or a group of them.

In other words, it is a preference regarding the type of food consumed, activities performed and habits recurrent, which define the mode of life (the way of life, in English) of a person, or of a community.

It is a sociological concept, which allows an approach to the ideas, values Y behaviors of human communities. The concept emerged in the 1910s and is attributed to the Austro-Hungarian psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1937), who initially defined it as "the system of rules of conduct developed by individuals to achieve their goals in life." Today, it is rather understood as the chosen path to live.

The use of the concept became enormously popular after 1928. It was mainly associated with certain idiosyncrasies in gastronomy (the Mediterranean lifestyle, the American lifestyle, etc.).

Consequently, at the end of the century, it also began to be associated with longevity and disease rates, to the point that today there is much debate about which habits are healthy or harmful for a healthy, long and active life, that is, , which are the healthy lifestyles and which are the harmful ones.

Healthy lifestyles

Although there is some room for debate regarding which foods and in what quantities or frequencies are healthy for the human body, doctors tend to show a preference for certain styles of feeding and, above all, by its combination with certain physical activity schemes. Thus, there is more or less consensus regarding what a healthy lifestyle is, and it implies sustaining:

  • A balanced diet, that is, eating foods from all the groups in the nutritional pyramid, in adequate proportions and in portions that are only sufficient to sustain ourselves without losing weight, but without gaining it either. This means that we must consume 30-40 kilocalories per thread of weight daily, according to the following distribution: 50-55% carbohydrates, 15-20% monounsaturated fats (and 5% polyunsaturated and no more than 7-8% saturated) and 10% protein. This includes a daily intake of 20-25 grams of plant fiber.
  • A routine of physical exercise, which generally involves 30 minutes a day of physical activity that allows you to burn excess energy (fat) and strengthen muscles and bones.
  • A good one hygiene personal, which includes body washing, hand washing (especially before eating), oral and dental hygiene, and hygiene of the environment in which we live. These conditions will help us get sick less often.
  • An enriching social life, that is, cultivating affections and friendships, loves and companionship, since we are gregarious animals, so acceptance and belonging are very powerful feelings within our psyche. The need for a minimum of social life to lead a healthy existence is more than demonstrated.
  • A stable emotional and psychological life, for which the communication, psychotherapy if needed, and avoid situations or substances that disturb mental health.

Harmful lifestyles

Just as there are healthy lifestyles, there are also harmful lifestyles, which threaten the Health, and that they can lead us to a shorter existence, more plagued with diseases and ailments. In general, harmful lifestyles include:

  • Little varied diets, composed of a single or a few ingredients from different groups, especially when that means eating large amounts of fats (especially polyunsaturated or saturated), large amounts of sugars and carbohydrates and, in general, abundant red meat. This type of diet is linked to the early appearance of obesity, diabetes and cancer. However, a too austere diet can also lead to anemia or vitamin deficiency.
  • Sedentary life, that is, total and prolonged lack of exercise, which promotes the accumulation of fat, weakens muscle tissues and further complicates the consequences of a poor diet. Hypertension and obesity are directly linked to sedentary lifestyle.
  • Excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol, among other substances with a harmful impact on the body, whose link with the disease is amply proven. Smoking is not only a factor in cancer and coronary heart disease, but also a destroyer of the oral mucosa; Meanwhile he alcoholism it ruins liver cells and contributes to aging. Not to mention illegal drugs, whose effect on life is disastrous, given their addictive component.
  • Lack of hygiene, both in terms of the body, teeth and in relation to the environment, since this encourages the appearance of diseases and contributes to the deterioration of living conditions. This is a particularly important factor in countries with poor public service infrastructure, as is often the case in the so-called third world.
  • Social isolation, because being gregarious animals, humans wither away in solitude and the absence of meaningful social contacts: love, friendship, fellowship, etc. In the words of the English thinker John Donne, "no man is an island."
  • Chronic stress, often referred to as the "silent killer", seems to have no major impact on people's quality of life, but in the long run a life model with high and sustained levels of stress affects hypertension and leads to problems such as insomnia, which in turn have negative consequences on the psyche and on the metabolism.
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