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Healthy Lifestyle Choices

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Many factors can affect a person’s lifestyle choices. Below are eight factors which can play a role in a person choosing a healthy lifestyle:

1. Cooking ability/ Food choices/Allergies

Good nutrition is a well-known determinant of a healthy lifestyle. There are however, many factors that can play a role in individuals obtaining good nutrition and choosing to include this in their lifestyle. An individual’s cooking ability/skills determine how easily a healthy home-made meal can be cooked. Home-made meals are much healthier than processed foods, therefore the ability to cook or to find and follow recipes is crucial. Moreover, if an individual has allergies, for example to milk, nuts, eggs, etc. or if they choose to be vegetarian, they will have to find alternative products or an alternative diet plan so that they receive all the necessary nutrients that would be lessened due to their allergies/diet choice. For example, a vegetarian must find additional sources of protein and must be able to cook meals that include it so that they receive the needed amount which would otherwise be more commonly obtained in meat products. This factor can apply to all age groups since all age groups are affected with allergies/special dietary needs, but in terms of cooking ability/skill, youth may be the most affected. Youth may not be used to cooking their own meals and may tend to choose more junk food as a result of taste preferences. Diet is a very important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and the ability to cook healthy home-made, unprocessed foods with adequate nutrients, and finding alternatives to adapt to allergies/special dietary needs is crucial to good health.

2. Fitness level/Physical Activity

Exercise is an important determinant of a healthy lifestyle. A person’s individual fitness level affects the feasibility of staying active. For instance, an athlete or a person interested in sports will be able to stay active without much extra effort due to their daily routines involving sports and fitness activity. Those who are not used to being active and work long hours may not be able to dedicate their time and energy to staying active and involving that in their daily routine. They will have to specially incorporate going to the gym or another type of fitness activity into their everyday schedule. These individual will naturally have a more difficult time adjusting and following through with this since it does not come naturally to them. Keeping active is crucial to all ages; however, the elderly population is likely to have the hardest time with this. As an individual’s age increases, stamina decreases. It takes a lot of extra effort to stay active if it already is not part of the daily routine. For example, bone breaks and joint weakness due to osteoporosis and osteoarthritis also become more common and therefore pain/bed rest due to these conditions can become a hindrance especially in this age group.

3. Accessibility (access to gym/healthy food)

Already mentioned previously, nutrition and exercise are both important factors of a healthy lifestyle. Some individuals, however, may not have access to a car, for example, and therefore obtaining healthy groceries for each day may not be feasible if they have to take public transport every time they want to buy groceries. Moreover, motivation to go and get healthy ingredients for a meal may be compromised if accessibility is hindered. Not everyone lives close to a gym or has the money or space to create an at-home gym. In such cases, even if one takes a membership at a gym, actually going is the key to the healthy lifestyle. Many who have easy access do not go to the gym or go to the grocery store to buy healthy ingredients as opposed to dining out, so if accessibility is compromised in any way, both feasibility and motivation goes down. All age groups can be affected by this. Youth, for example may not have cars or means to travel whenever and wherever they want in order to be active and eat healthy every day. Adults also may not have access to personal transport or live nearby to fitness centers or safe neighbourhoods where they can be involved in fitness activities in their front or back yard. Seniors may also not be able to regularly access such places due to hindrances in walking ability or stamina or lack of transportation. Disability/handicaps will also affect an individual’s ability to stay active and obtain healthy meals, which can affect all age groups.

4. Underlying health conditions

Individuals with underlying health conditions, for example diabetes, or celiac disease, may find it difficult to adapt and pursue a healthy lifestyle. Underlying health conditions already demand a lot of attention to health and additionally trying to have a healthy lifestyle, staying active, eating right all requires more attention and effort. It is difficult to stay motivated at times. Those with celiac disease have to avoid gluten and therefore buy their grain products at gluten-free stores or those stores that contain gluten-free products. This on its own may not seem like such a difficult task; however, key to staying healthy is daily routine, and having to make such adaptations and working them in to everyday lifestyle can be challenging as an addition to any underlying health conditions which also pose difficulties at times. Some people choose to control diabetes through diet and thus have to be extra careful about what they consume. If diet is inadequate, staying active will also become a challenge. Those taking medications daily may exhibit side effects from those that may alter energy levels and therefore affect daily routines. All age groups can experience this since underlying health conditions may occur at any age; however, the elderly population are the focus of this factor since as age increases so does the likelihood of many health-related problems, i.e. hypertension, etc. Not only is it important to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent disease, but once diagnosed with a disease, keeping a healthy lifestyle can also keep it under control and prevent the disease from getting worse.

5. Alcoholism/Smoking/Drug Addictions

Alcoholism, smoking, and drugs negatively impact health. Individuals who have these addictions may have anxiety or depression for which they use such methods to cope, or individuals may take part in these habits for other reasons, such as stress. Regardless, such habits are unhealthy especially in the long run, and lead to many chronic illnesses such as liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, etc. Those who exhibit such habits may have to reach out to social groups and rehabilitation centres, which depends on accessibility as well, in order to gain the ability to restart a healthy lifestyle. An individual’s desire for a healthy lifestyle and their perseverance to obtain it play large roles in such cases: to want to quit these habits, and to proceed with the quitting process are both vital in this situation. If individuals are light smokers/light drinkers, extra exercise and attention to diet is needed in order for healthy lifestyles, if individuals do want to continue these habits. This has to be recognized and pursued. The age group of focus for this factor is mainly young adults and youth; however, this is applicable to those of all ages. The reason for young adults and youth being the main concern is that their brains are still developing and such behaviours, whether due to stress or peer pressure, can have a drastic negative impact on them if this is not realized and the correct steps are not taken to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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6. Dependency on others

When individuals depend on others for daily necessities, such as food and transportation, it becomes difficult to control their own routines. For example, if parents pack lunches for their child in the youth age group, that child will eat what is packed. Moreover, they will depend on their parents to take them to fitness centres or their sport meets. This will affect their daily routine since it will depend on the daily routine of those upon whom they depend. This may also be the case for the elderly who may depend on their children or on a facility, such as a retirement home. This factor is mainly a focus of the two mentioned age groups: youth and the elderly. Adults can be affected as well, for example, in the case of dependency on a spouse.

7. Climate

The weather conditions impact daily activity and can have an effect on healthy lifestyles. For example, in Ottawa, winter months are extremely cold and during these months many people avoid going outside and hence their physical activity levels decrease. Many people do have interest in winter sports; however, it is not for everyone. Therefore in these months, alternatives have to be found, and again motivation must be there in order to pursue this. It also starts to get dark early which again, can hinder people’s willingness to go anywhere and be active; even if an individual joins an indoor gym at this time, the gloomy nature of Canadian winters can demotivate people from going outside. Other areas, such as Delhi, India, are extremely hot and during the day it is impossible to keep active outside or do anything outdoors. Such climate extremes affect physical activity and motivation to go outside and perform daily routines. These are examples of how climate can affect daily routine and in turn, a healthy regime and lifestyle. This can apply to any of the age groups, with a larger effect on the elderly population since, for example, winter months can be especially dangerous due to icy conditions.

8. Education

Knowledge plays a big role in keeping a healthy lifestyle. It is important to know what is good for health and what is bad, what affects health, how to have a healthy lifestyle, and what alternatives and adaptations can be made if one option does not work. Lately, health and prevention has been a major focus; however, this was not the case before. Although children learn this in school, about good health practices, not everyone understands the value of it. It is important to be well-educated regarding good eating practices and good fitness habits and those who do not know about these things will be at a disadvantage. Many people have not had education in these topics, especially adults and seniors, to whom healthy living and the importance of prevention, may not have been taught. Knowing what is right is the first step, after which this theory gets put in practice. Without proper education on this topic, it is very difficult to execute healthy practices.

The question of whether it is ethical to impose a healthier lifestyle on an individual can be answered in the affirmative with almost no debate when it is clear that the choices of the individual may harm one or more other individuals, especially when the set of people that may be affected contains anyone not able to indicate consent, such as a child or fetus. In this limited case, it is clear that the individual should be constrained to follow the healthier lifestyle. For example, it would be unquestionably ethical to prevent smoking or alcohol consumption during pregnancy, since these preventable actions considerably reduce the probability of delivering a healthy child. Similarly, parents, grandparents, or even offspring legally permitted to smoke, can be ethically restrained from smoking in the home because of the consequences of second-hand smoke inhalation on a younger sibling’s health. Similarly, smoking can be prohibited in the work place to prevent co-workers, regardless of whether they are youth or adult, from being exposed to second-hand smoke. Alcohol and drugs too can be disallowed on the work site based on similar reasoning.

In the case of unhealthy choices that only affect the health of the individual alone, there would also be no debate that it is not ethical to preclude them when the individual does not have the freedom of acting independently, or whose judgment is generally accepted by society to be incompletely developed, as long as the risk of harm to the individual is not great. Hence, it would be wrong to forbid the consumption at school of carbonated drinks, for example, by a toddler or pre-teen—the child is unable to independently walk, drive or take the bus to a location with healthier choices—or even by a teenager whose judgment is still in the process of being formed and is subject to being influenced by peers and marketing forces. It would be ethical, however, to mandate the school to provide healthier options. However, in the case of health choices that can cause serious harm, e.g. drinking, drug abuse, or smoking, the acceptance of the ethicality of forbidding these options for children and youth is demonstrated by the existence of a lower age limit for legal consumption.

The only remaining case, then, where the ethicality of forcing an individual to adopt a healthy lifestyle is controversial is the situation where an adult or senior chooses an option that does no harm to anyone else. In countries where the cost of healthcare is borne by the taxpayer, there has been a lot of debate whether it is then ethical to require individuals to make “healthy” dietary choices, or even force them to avoid choices that are clearly unhealthy, such as smoking. I would say that it is unethical for society in those countries to force individuals in any way–whether it is to compel positive courses of action such as exercise, or to forbid “unhealthy” actions such as smoking—because it is a slippery slope with several evils: it may lead to forbidding any activities are deemed to be dangerous, or “costly”–such as bungee-jumping, for example. It may also lead to a draconian society where people are unable to freely make lifestyle choices independent of the consequences.

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Healthy Lifestyle Choices. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/healthy-lifestyle-choices/
“Healthy Lifestyle Choices.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/healthy-lifestyle-choices/
Healthy Lifestyle Choices. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/healthy-lifestyle-choices/> [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
Healthy Lifestyle Choices [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/healthy-lifestyle-choices/
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