What is a Lifestyle?

Lifestyle refers to the way in which an individual, family or society lives their life, including interests, activities and opinions as well as values, demographics and reference groups that they belong to. Culture, education and social norms all influence this aspect of living.

Lifestyle choices have an effect on our health, for instance a poor diet and lack of exercise increase risk for heart disease and other illnesses. A healthy lifestyle includes balanced meals, regular physical activity and quality sleep as well as stress management techniques like journaling or talking with friends; those engaging in less than optimal lifestyle choices such as smoking or drug addiction or neglecting their health could increase chronic disease risks significantly.

Change can be difficult. For example, quitting smoking may prove challenging; but if your current lifestyle doesn’t meet your needs – such as moving house, starting a new job or spending more time with family – making changes will allow you to live the life that has always been your goal.

Thorstein Veblen introduced the notion of lifestyle through conspicuous consumption: where people display wealth to distinguish themselves from other social strata and attract attention. Georg Simmel later conducted formal analysis on lifestyle, with processes of differentiation and recognition identified as its primary drivers; Pierre Bourdieu later took this approach further by proposing the existence of an array of tastes which simultaneously determine lifestyles horizontally and vertically.

Modern lifestyle definitions encompass an amalgam of personal decisions and social trends; an aesthetic way of life marked by leisure pursuits, consumer habits and self-identity (Pulkkinen 1996). Yet lifestyle remains controversial due to its vague definition and use; marketers commonly utilize lifestyle targeting when targeting products and services (Geyling & Szymanski 2004).

People living a luxury lifestyle will likely be exposed to higher-priced goods. Healthcare practitioners use the term to refer to patterns of daily behavior which lead to morbidity and mortality (Chaney 1996).

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine defines lifestyle medicine as “a combination of proper nutrition, regular physical activity, social connection, restful sleep, stress management and avoidance of risky substances.” College members are certified in an evidence-based approach for preventing, treating and even reversing chronic disease. Courses are offered for physicians, nurses and other health professionals. At present, the organization is conducting an international search for a Chief Medical Officer for its flagship project, The Center for Preventive and Integrative Medicine in the United Arab Emirates. This center will promote lifestyle awareness across the nation and support a network of lifestyle clinics throughout UAE; providing comprehensive care for chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other chronic illnesses.

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