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Creating Healthy Habits

Make Better Choices Easier

Illustration of a parent and child preparing a healthy meal together

We know that making healthy choices can help us feel better and live longer. Maybe you’ve already tried to eat better, get more exercise or sleep, quit smoking, or reduce stress. It’s not easy. But research shows how you can boost your ability to create and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s frustrating to experience setbacks when you’re trying to make healthy changes and reach a goal,” says NIH behavior change expert Dr. Susan Czajkowski. “The good news is that decades of research show that change is possible, and there are proven strategies you can use to set yourself up for success.”

Lots of things you do impact your health and quality of life, now and in the future. You can reduce your risk for the most common, costly, and preventable health problems—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity—by making healthy choices.

Know Your Habits

Regular things you do—from brushing your teeth to having a few drinks every night—can become habits. Repetitive behaviors that make you feel good can affect your brain in ways that create habits that may be hard to change. Habits often become automatic—they happen without much thought.

“The first step to changing your behavior is to create an awareness around what you do regularly,” explains Dr. Lisa Marsch, an expert in behavior change at Dartmouth College. “Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change.”

Maybe you eat too much while watching TV or join a friend on smoke breaks even when you don’t want a cigarette. “You can develop ways to disrupt those patterns and create new ones,” Marsch says. For instance, eat meals with the TV off or join friends for healthy activities, like walk breaks.

Make a Plan

Make a plan that includes small, reasonable goals and specific actions you’ll take to move toward them.

“If you walk by the vending machine at work and buy junk food every afternoon, try walking a different way to eliminate that decision and bring healthy snacks from home,” Czajkowski says. “Whenever possible, make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Consider what you think you’ll need to be successful. How can you change things around you to support your goals? You might need to stock up on healthy foods, remove temptations, or find a special spot to relax.

Get friends and loved ones involved. Research shows that people’s health behaviors tend to mirror those of their family and friends. Invite them to join you, support you, and help you stay on track.

It’s also important to plan for obstacles. Think about what might derail your best efforts to live healthier. How can you still make healthy choices during unexpected situations, in stressful times, or when tempted by old habits?

Stay on Track

Doing positive things for yourself can feel exciting and rewarding. But there will also be times when you wonder if you can stick with it.

“Identify negative thoughts and turn them into realistic, productive ones,” Marsch advises.

Keeping a record can help. You can use a paper journal, computer program, or mobile app to note things like your diet, exercise, stress levels, or sleep patterns. A study of people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for at least a year found that they often tracked their progress closely.

“Even when you think you’re about to ‘fall off the wagon,’ hold on,” Czajkowski says. “Continue to track your behavior. Sometimes when you feel like you’re failing, you can learn the most.”

Marsch and others are working on digital technologies, like mobile apps, that could support you in a moment of weakness. Her team is also using technology to learn more about how to measure and increase the ability to monitor and control our behavior.

“The more you practice self-control, the better you become at it,” says Dr. Leonard Epstein, who studies behavior change and decision-making at the University at Buffalo. “You develop the capacity to act and react another way.”

Think About the Future

Epstein has found that some people have a harder time than others resisting their impulses. He calls this “delay discounting,” where you discount, or undervalue, the larger benefits of waiting in favor of smaller immediate rewards. This can lead to things like overeating, substance abuse, drinking or shopping too much, or risky sexual behavior.

“You can learn to postpone immediate gratification through episodic future thinking, or vividly imagining future positive experiences or rewards,” he explains. “It’s a great way to strengthen your ability to make decisions that are better for you in the long run.”

Epstein is now studying how to use this technique to help people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes prevent the disease.

Focusing on how a change might heal your body and enhance your life can help. When you stop smoking, your risk of a heart attack drops within 24 hours. Reducing stress can lead to better relationships. Even small improvements in your nutrition and physical activity can reduce your health risks and lengthen your life.

Sometimes when you’re trying to adopt healthier habits, other health issues can get in the way.

“When you’re really struggling with these behaviors, ask yourself if more is going on,” Czajkowski says. “For example, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can be tied to unhealthy behaviors.”

A health professional can work with you to address any underlying issues to make change feel easier and to help you be more successful.

You’re never too out of shape, too overweight, or too old to make healthy changes. Try different strategies until you find what works best for you.

“Things may not go as planned, and that’s okay,” Czajkowski says. “Change is a process. What’s most important is to keep moving forward.”

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Articles on healthy lifestyle

Displaying 1 - 20 of 25 articles.

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Expert advice to help young people keep their new year resolutions

Avery Anapol , The Conversation

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How much could the NHS save if people had healthier lifestyles? Hundreds of millions according to research

Francesco Moscone , Brunel University London

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Lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk by maintaining brain plasticity — but the time to act is now

Saskia Sivananthan , McGill University and Laura Middleton , University of Waterloo

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After breast cancer: 5 changes you can make to stay healthy

Marina Reeves , The University of Queensland ; Caroline Olivia Terranova , The University of Queensland ; Kelly D'cunha , The University of Queensland , and Sandra Hayes , Griffith University

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Do optimists really live longer? Here’s what the research says

Fuschia Sirois , Durham University

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Cardiac rehab for heart patients saves lives and money, so why isn’t it used more?

Sherry L. Grace , York University, Canada

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A healthier heart can protect your brain too. 5 lifestyle changes to prevent dementia

Alexandra Wade , University of South Australia ; Ashleigh E. Smith , University of South Australia , and Maddison Mellow , University of South Australia

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A very special episode: how TV shows can be powerful tools for public health

Michaela Pascoe , Victoria University

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Want to sleep like a baby during the coronavirus crisis? Here are 10 ways to do it

Faustin Etindele , Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

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While we wait for a coronavirus vaccine, eating well, exercising and managing stress can boost your immune system

Julia J Rucklidge , University of Canterbury and Grant Schofield , Auckland University of Technology

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One step at a time: Simple nudges can increase lifestyle physical activity

Matthew Mclaughlin , University of Newcastle ; John Bellettiere , University of California, San Diego , and Natasha Bliss , San Diego State University

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Explainer: what is chronic kidney disease and why are one in three at risk of this silent killer?

Karen Dwyer , Deakin University and Ashani Lecamwasam , Deakin University

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Beyond Medicare levies: joining the dots to create places that are good for our health

Susan Thompson , UNSW Sydney and Gregory Paine , UNSW Sydney

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Choosing healthy food: your surroundings can help or hinder your dining choices

Breanna Wright , Monash University ; Denise Goodwin , Monash University , and Nicholas Faulkner , Monash University

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Our ‘sporting nation’ is a myth, so how do we get youngsters back on the field?

Deborah Ascher Barnstone , University of Technology Sydney ; Fiona Brooks , University of Technology Sydney , and Job Fransen , University of Technology Sydney

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Learning from zoos – how our environment can influence our health

Emmanuel Tsekleves , Lancaster University

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How Africa can win the fight against childhood cancer

Jessie N. Githanga , University of Nairobi

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Does a healthy diet have to come at a hefty price?

Kelly L. Haws , Vanderbilt University ; Kevin L. Sample , University of Georgia , and Rebecca Walker Reczek , The Ohio State University

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How strong social networks can help migrants manage health risks better

John Boateng , University of Ghana

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How ‘gamification’ can make transport systems and choices work better for us

Barbara T.H. Yen , Griffith University

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Top contributors

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Professor in Medical Sciences, Deakin University

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Professor of Planning and Associate Director, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW Sydney

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Professor of Public Health and Director of the Human Potential Centre, Auckland University of Technology

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Professor of Vascular Cell Biology, Glasgow Caledonian University

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Assistant Professor, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, Griffith University

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Professor, Head of School, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney

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PhD Candidate, Loughborough University

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Professor, The University of Queensland

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Professor of Psychology, University of Canterbury

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Senior Lecturer - Exercise Physiology, University of South Australia

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Professor of Paediatrics, The University of Western Australia

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BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University, Monash University

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Understanding factors influencing uptake of healthy lifestyle practices among adults following a community cardiovascular disease prevention programme in Mukono and Buikwe districts in Uganda: A qualitative study

Rawlance ndejjo.

1 Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

2 Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

Geofrey Musinguzi

Fred nuwaha, hilde bastiaens, rhoda k. wanyenze, associated data.

Due to ethical restrictions related to protecting participants privacy, data cannot be made publicly available. Data are available upon request from the research and ethics committee by email: .


Healthy lifestyle practices including physical activity, healthy diets, non-smoking, reduced alcohol consumption and stress reduction are important in the prevention of metabollic CVD risk factors such as hypertension, overweight and obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia. Owing to current lifestyle changes, the increasing burden of CVD and importance of healthy behaviours, the need for strategies to increase uptake of healthy lifestyles among sub-Saharan African populations are apparent. This study explored the factors influencing uptake of healthy lifestyle practices among adults following implementation of a community CVD prevention programme.

This was a descriptive qualitative study conducted among purposively selected adults who had engaged in a community CVD prevention programme. Data were collected using in-depth interviews, which were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Study transcripts were read into NVIVO 12.6 software for coding and analysis guided by thematic analysis following the semantic approach.

This study found variations in uptake of healthy lifestyle practices for CVD prevention with most changes reported for dietary behaviour especially in vegetable and fruit intake, reduction of salt intake and fats and oils consumption. Changes in physical activity were also notable. On the other hand, participants were slow in making changes in alcohol consumption, smoking behaviours and stress reduction. The barriers to uptake of healthy lifestyle practices were individual such as limited capability or skills, structural such as limited physical activity facilities, and social such as cultural and peer influence. Relatedly, the facilitators of practices uptake were individual including knowledge and personal determination to change, and social including social support from family and the community.


Insights from understanding the uptake of lifestyle practices should guide planning and design of community programmes with an emphasis on removing barriers and strengthening facilitators building on the intermediate motivating factors and considering individual needs and expectations.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are increasingly becoming prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) due to a shifting disease burden from mostly communicable to both infectious and chronic diseases [ 1 ]. Cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death globally, is responsible for over one million deaths in SSA annually [ 2 ], expected to rise along with the projected increase in NCDs burden. The prevalence of hypertension, the leading risk factor for CVD, is also very high in SSA at over 30% among adults [ 3 , 4 ]. In Uganda, of the 33% deaths due to NCDs overall, 10% are attributed to CVD [ 5 ]. Moreover, more than 25% of adult Ugandans are estimated to have hypertension though levels of status awareness and knowledge are low among the population [ 6 – 8 ]. The prevalence of other metabolic risk factors such as obesity and diabetes is also rising in Uganda [ 9 , 10 ].

Healthy lifestyle practices including physical activity, healthy diets, non-smoking, reduced alcohol consumption and reduced stress are important in the prevention of metabolic CVD risk factors such as hypertension, overweight and obesity, diabetes, and hyperlipidaemia [ 11 ]. For example, leisure-time physical activity [ 12 – 14 ] and healthy diets such as consumption of fruits and vegetables [ 14 – 16 ] and lower salt intake [ 14 , 16 , 17 ] are associated with reduced CVD risk and mortality. Moreover, smoking [ 18 ] and alcohol consumption increase CVD risk and mortality [ 19 , 20 ]. Therefore, by targeting behavioural risk factors and facilitating uptake of healthy lifestyle practices, the CVD burden can significantly be reduced [ 11 ].

Owing to current lifestyle changes in SSA and the importance of healthy behaviours, the need for strategies to increase uptake of healthy lifestyles among the populations is apparent. The World Health Organization through its global action plan for prevention of NCDs targets to increase physical activity levels by 10% and achieve a 30% relative reduction in mean population intake of salt/sodium [ 21 ]. The other targets are: a 30% relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use and a 10% relative reduction in harmful alcohol use by 2025 [ 21 ]. The same report targets to obtain a global relative reduction in the prevalence of raised blood pressure of 25% and premature mortality from NCDs [ 21 ]. Achieving these targets would contribute to attaining target 3.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals to reduce by one-third premature mortality from NCDs by 2030 [ 22 ].

The potential of community-based interventions to contribute to NCDs prevention and control has been previously elaborated in low- and middle-income countries and a few studies highlighted their effectiveness on CVD metabolic risk factors [ 23 – 26 ] including a recent systematic review [ 27 ]. These studies have also highlighted changes in some individual CVD prevention behaviours [ 23 – 27 ]. However, an in-depth understanding of factors that influence changes in individual CVD related behaviours remains limited which is critical in informing intervention design and implementation of community-based strategies for impact. Thus using in-depth interviews, this study explored the factors influencing uptake of healthy lifestyle practices among adults following implementation of a community CVD prevention programme. The community programme was implemented under the Horizon 2020 funded Scaling-up Packages of Interventions for Cardiovascular disease prevention in selected sites in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa (SPICES) project [ 28 ] implemented in Mukono and Buikwe districts of Uganda. The programme had community health workers (CHWs) working with existing community networks and structures to conduct CVD risk assessment and promote knowledge, improved lifestyles and cardiovascular health [ 28 ]. Specifically, the programme involved training and empowerment of CHWs to lead CVD prevention and control activities within their communities. The CHWs conducted house-to-house visits in the community to screen for CVD risk factors using the INTERHEART non-laboratory tool–a CVD risk assessment tool based solely on clinical history and simple physical measurements [ 29 ]. CHWs also provided health education and promoted lifestyle change through motivational interviewing and goal setting techniques [ 28 , 30 ]. In doing the motivational interviewing, the CHWs used the 5As (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist and Arrange) approach [ 31 ] focusing on emerging risks from the INTERHEART screening and worked with community members to create a roadmap to change the behaviour. Additionally, CHWs referred high-risk individuals to health facilities and followed them up in the community [ 28 ].

The community CVD prevention intervention was based on the Self Determination Theory (SDT) and the principles of motivational interviewing. The SDT is a theory of personality development and self–motivated behaviour change while motivational interviewing is a counselling style for facilitating behaviour change and the two are complementary [ 32 , 33 ]. The SDT highlights behaviour change as a function of individual differences in motivational orientations, contextual influences on motivation, and interpersonal perceptions. According to the SDT, individuals will engage in an activity when intrinsically motivated to experience enjoyment or excitement, exercise their skills and for personal accomplishments [ 34 ]. Conversely, those externally motivated would do so to obtain an outcome different from the activity such as a social reward or avoiding disapproval [ 34 ]. The theory further highlights three basic psychological needs that influence satisfaction and autonomous motivation. These are i) competence–confidence and competence to change or control the outcome and experience mastery; ii) autonomy–control individuals have to engage in behaviour including the source of motivation; iii) relatedness–connectedness and trust with people more likely to adopt values and behaviours promoted by those they trust or feel connected [ 34 ]. The SDT has previously been applied to understand CVD related behaviours including physical activity, diet and smoking cessation [ 35 – 37 ].

This study was conducted in Mukono and Buikwe districts in Uganda where the SPICES project was being implemented targeting 20 parishes that were grouped into four clusters. Mukono and Buikwe districts have a population of 1,000,000 persons, 70% of whom reside in rural areas, engaging mostly in subsistence agriculture and fishing, while others in semi-urban areas operate small businesses in trading centres [ 38 ]. The study was conducted in five parishes that had received the intervention for one year as they were in the first cluster of the stepped wedge randomised design of the project [ 28 ]. Within the parish, the intervention was implemented in four randomly selected villages led by CHWs. In the Ugandan context, CHWs are volunteers with the ability to read and write in the local language and are selected by their communities to link them with the health system [ 39 ].

Study design and population

This was a qualitative descriptive study that involved in-depth interviews with adults who had received the SPICES project intervention to explore their uptake of healthy lifestyle behaviours for CVD prevention. Implementation of the project interventions started in January 2019 and evaluation occurred in August 2020. The study participants in the five parishes had at least received a visit from a CHW who discussed CVD prevention measures with them and their INTERHEART scores taken. The selection of the study participants was purposive using the collected INTERHEART screening data containing age, gender and village of respondent, and scores on different health behaviours including smoking, physical activity, and diet. The selection process ensured diversity in age (less or equal to 40 vs above 40 years), gender (male vs female), parish (Katoogo, Misindye and Nabalanga in Mukono district and Ssi bukunja and Busabaga in Buikwe district) and scope of health behaviours especially for smoking and alcohol which applied to only a few. Physical activity, diet and stress were explored across all selected participants. At first, 36 participants were sampled of whom only 20 were traced and willing to participate. Thereafter, an additional list of 20 participants was sampled considering the characteristics of already included participants. Of these 11 participants were traced and interviewed and saturation of data was obtained. The study participants who could not be traced were either not found at home on at least three visits, not within their villages during the fieldwork, or only returned home late in the evening.

Data collection

To obtain data for this study, participants were interviewed from their homes while ensuring privacy. The in-depth interviews were conducted using a pretested guide ( S1 File ) that had general questions on CVD, lifestyles changes before and after CHW visit, factors influencing uptake of any behaviours and any benefits of changes undertaken. The interview guide was translated into the local language, Luganda , in which the interviews were to be done. An independent team also supported the validation and revision of the translated interview guides before starting data collection. Interviews lasted on average 45 minutes (range 35 to 60 minutes) and were conducted by a research team (including the first author) composed of graduates in health or social science studies with experience conducting qualitative research and fluent in Luganda . The research team was composed of three males and three females who individually conducted the interview and took notes. The research assistants received a two-day training on conducting qualitative interviews and were introduced to CVD prevention and the interview guide. The interviewers were not personally known to the community members whom they contacted directly guided by name and location data collected during the INTERHEART screening without involving CHWs. The in-depth interviews allowed describing individual experiences and behaviours [ 40 ].

Data management and analysis

All interview audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and concurrently translated into English by the research team. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted following the semantic approach [ 41 ]. Specifically, two authors read through selected study transcripts and developed an initial codebook based on the interview guide which they discussed and harmonised. All transcripts were then read into NVIVO 12.6 software and coding of the transcripts done across specific behaviours with any emergent codes included. Codes across the different health behaviours were grouped to form sub-themes in line with the study’s themes. Reporting for the study was supported by the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research guidelines [ 42 ] and typical quotations are provided to support study findings.

Ethical considerations

This study obtained ethical approval from the Higher Degrees Research and Ethics Committee of Makerere University School of Public Health (protocol 624) and was registered by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (HS 2477). Permission to undertake the study was obtained from the district authorities. Study participants provided written informed consent and their privacy and confidentiality were ensured.

Participant characteristics

A total of 31 community members participated in this study, 16 of whom were female and 13 were aged between 20 to 40 years. Most participants had attained primary education (22), were married (21), and engaged in farming (22) ( Table 1 ).

The study results are presented under two domains: uptake of healthy lifestyles following the community programme which are described basing on the individual behaviours and factors influencing uptake of healthy lifestyles highlighted across the four identified themes.

Uptake of healthy behaviours following the community programme

Following the community CVD prevention programme, community members reported about the changes they made across five behavioural risk factors of: diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and stress.

Among our study participants, 27 reported changes in elements of their diet following the intervention. The most reported changes were in increased vegetable consumption (24) and fruit intake (13), reduced salt (14) and sugar consumption (3), and reduced fat intake (15).

Physical activity

Nineteen of the study participants reported changes in physical activity due to the intervention. The reported changes were in duration, intensity and variety of activities such as running, playing sports and engaging in domestic work.

Alcohol use

Nine of our study participants reported consuming alcohol among whom one stopped completely and six reported reductions in the amount, volume and frequency of their intake.

Among our study participants, five (males) were tobacco smokers among whom only two reported changes in their smoking behaviour with one ceasing smoking and the other reducing the amount smoked. Two of the smokers had quit smoking cigarettes mainly due to prohibitive costs and resorted to crude locally grown tobacco.

Fourteen of our study participants reported making changes to reduce stress or avoid stressful events due to their awareness of it being a risk factor for CVD and its undesirable effects on their health. The key sources of stress were related to family, relationships and having limited resources to provide for themselves and their families.

Factors influencing uptake of healthy lifestyle practices among participants

Four themes explained the factors that influenced uptake of healthy behaviours among study participants. These were: motivation to change, benefits of change, and barriers and facilitators of adopting the practice. These themes together with the subthemes are summarised by practices in Table 2 and are expounded below supported by individual quotations.

1. Motivation to change

Three sub-themes explained motivation to change behaviour. These were: individual factors relating mostly to knowledge, awareness and risk perception; anticipated benefits especially in improved health or financial savings; and social factors driven by those in their circle of influence or community.

Individual factors

Many study participants were motivated to change their behaviours due to their improved awareness and knowledge regarding CVD and its prevention especially the harmful health effects of previous behaviours. Indeed, obtaining information from CHWs about the harmful effects of poor diets, physical inactivity, alcohol intake and smoking, and becoming aware that stress was a risk factor for CVD motivated change.

“Before the sensitisation I used to take about four months without eating vegetables but when I was visited by the CHWs , we were encouraged to eat fruits and vegetables and I now do so at least twice a week . ” (Male, 30 years)
“Yes , I sometimes worry about things in life but I also counsel myself not to worry so much because I know it can lead to heart disease . ” (Female, 33 years)

Those who were interested in changing dietary and physical activity behaviours also attributed it to their perception of having a high CVD risk and their desire to reduce it.

“ When they [CHW] first measured my weight , I was slightly heavy and they cautioned me that I might get high blood pressure . By that time , I wasn’t engaged in any active work but I decided to start right away . The CHW had advised me to engage in active work and eat vegetables more often to prevent CVDs .” (Female, 40 years)

Anticipated benefits

Community members anticipated benefits from changing behaviours which influenced their motivation to change. The major anticipated benefits were the desire to live a healthy life while others highlighted the need for healthy behaviours to support their control of underlying conditions.

“ We want to live healthy lives and good enough we are not buying it with money . You thus make sure you devote yourself as a person to remain healthy which is much easier than seeking treatment afterwards . ” (Male, 41 years)

For alcohol intake and smoking, the other motivation was the desire to reduce expenditure on alcohol and tobacco to cater for other responsibilities as the behaviours were expensive to maintain.

“In the past , I used to drink almost daily , and you would have found me drunk at this point . However , following understanding how alcohol was affecting my finances , I got fed up as it was not okay for me to be buying it every now and then , yet I had other family responsibilities . In fact , as I reduced on alcohol intake , I started feeling better and the information from our CHW has helped to keep me going . " (Male, 45 years)

Social factors

Social pressure such as the influence of significant others especially family and peers also influenced the motivation to change unhealthy behaviours for diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. Indeed, community members who desired to stop smoking or reduce alcohol consumption reported negative experiences from their behaviours which had impacted their social lives including relationships and sometimes led to rebuke by other community members.

“You may get too drunk and end up falling on the roadside and people will say so and so’s husband is a drunkard whose life depends on alcohol . Such ridicule from the community and the pressure from your wife together with regular education sessions is sufficient for you to stop drinkin g.” (Male, 34 years)

2. Benefits of change

Community members who reported changes in health behaviour majorly reported health benefits including weight reduction, improved heart function and wellbeing, or social benefits such as community respect and better relationships.

Health benefits

Participants mentioned health benefits following their uptake of healthy behaviours mostly reporting improved health and wellbeing for all behaviours. For changes in dietary behaviour, increased body strength, reduced frequency of illness, loss of weight, improved heart function and control of underlying health conditions were highlighted. On the other hand, changes in physical activity resulted in health gains and physical fitness, increased strength and energy, maintenance of a healthy weight, relief of stress and control of underlying health conditions.

“Ever since I started eating vegetables following advice by the CHW , I feel better , and most of all , I am no longer feeling sickly . When you are eating vegetables , it is rare to fall sick as your body can fight against illnesses . ” (Male, 24 years)
“ In the past , I could not climb a hill because my heart could start racing so fast , but ever since I started undertaking the physical activity measures advised by the CHW , this problem stopped and I started feeling better . Previously , I could feel too heavy but nowadays I am light .” (Female, 28 years)

The reported benefits in changing alcohol consumption patterns or behaviour were increased energy to participate in day to day activities including sports. Among smokers who ceased smoking or reduced the amount of tobacco smoked, the reported health benefits were increased body strength and reduced coughing. The benefits in reducing stress were related to having better quality sleep, a more positive outlook on life and being happy.

“If I don’t get worried and stressed , I am at peace with myself and happy . " (Female, 36 years)

Social benefits

Besides health, there were social benefits due to abandoning alcohol or ceasing smoking reported by community members. These were largely around regaining community respect and maintaining social relationships which had previously been negatively impacted.

“I used to play football as well as ride a bicycle but with time , I started struggling to participate in these activities as I could get extremely exhausted . My friends said it was alcohol weakening my body . Of recent , I drink only occasionally and I am slowly regaining respect from the community and my friends . (Male, 34 years)

3. Barriers to uptake of practice

The barriers to uptake of healthy lifestyle practices for CVD prevention were individual in terms of limited knowledge and skills, structural including the lack of a supportive environment or social including negative influence of peers or the community.

Individual barriers

Individual barriers in terms of knowledge and skills such as in food preparation or dealing with stress, underlying health conditions impacting doing physical exercises, limited financial and time resources including to purchase fruits and vegetables or to engage in physical activity affected uptake of behaviours. Specifically, for dietary practices, limited access to vegetables and fruits especially in some rural areas, the limited varieties grown and fruits and vegetables being seasonal–harder to find during the dry season–were barriers.

“You have to plant vegetables in the rainy season . I can show you my garden where I planted Nakati (local vegetable—Solanum Aethiopioum) but now it looks miserable because of the sun . Time reaches when you don’t have vegetables and you just have to buy from the market and yet you may not have the money . ” (Female, 65 years)
“The CHWs and health workers simply told me to stop worrying and avoid being stressed . I have however not received information on how best to avoid stress and neither have I undergone any training on this . ” (Female, 40 years)

Among those who consumed alcohol or smoked, they reported not experiencing any negative health effects or that the practice supported them to deal with stress and boredom or to effectively carry out their work making them reluctant to change. Most of those who smoked used tobacco which they perceived to be less harmful than cigarettes further hindering change.

“ We usually take alcohol because of the circumstances . As a poor man living in this small house alone , when I am bored and in deep thought , I am forced to get some alcohol to help me have peace of mind .” (Male, 60 years)
“ It is possible to quit tobacco smoking but because of the nature of the work that I do , I sometimes need to smoke some tobacco to get the energy and courage to go about my hard work deep down in the forest .” (Male, 38 years)

Structural barriers

Structural barriers were reported mainly for adopting changes in dietary practices and physical activity. Some community members for example mentioned that they did not have sufficient land to grow fruits and vegetables as they were tenants and also that fruits took a longer time to grow. Moreover, public places including restaurants did not prepare healthy meals impacting behaviour change strides. Relatedly, community members reported that they lacked physical activity facilities limiting the activities they could engage in. Moreover, the weather sometimes was noted not to be favourable for outdoor activities while the impact of COVID-19 restrictions also reduced the work and sports-related activities.

“I used to be part of the women’s team that plays netball and encouragement from the CHW helped us to continue going but we have been unable to continue due to the current situation of COVID-19 . We could exercise for one and a half hours which was adequate time for us but not anymore . ” (Female, 42 years)

Regarding smoking, community members noted that the easy access to tobacco that was locally grown hindered their cessation efforts.

Social barriers

Community members reported social barriers in uptake of healthy CVD prevention practices. For physical activity, culture-related factors such as it not being acceptable for adults to jog which is considered funny or women to ride bicycles which is ostracized, and the lack of role models or peers to inspire others were noted. For dietary practices, food choices served at communal events or gatherings was noted not to be healthy. The barriers in adopting changes in alcohol consumption were peers who sometimes still attracted those making changes to drink especially when they go around drinking places.

“ Some of my former drinking peers could ask why they had not seen me in a long time and I would lie to them that work has been busy even when this may not be the case . At the back of my mind , I know setting my foot where they drink from will mean spending all my savings .” (Male, 34 years)

4. Facilitators of uptake of practice

As with barriers to practice, similar individual and social factors facilitated the uptake of healthy lifestyles for CVD prevention.

Individual facilitators

The key facilitators for change across all behaviours were the individual willingness and determination to change and having the requisite knowledge and skills which was through interaction with CHWs, health workers or attending training. With such knowledge and skills, community members were able to grow vegetables and fruits including in small spaces and/or prepare their meals. To keep up with increasing their physical activity levels or patterns, participants reportedly incorporated it into their schedules or usual activities as a routine sometimes doing it first thing in the morning or late in the evening and engaging in culturally appropriate physical activities.

“We were trained on how to set up vegetable gardens in very small spaces . Even when you are a tenant , you can plant the vegetables in sacks and place them along the house veranda to grow . Also , some vegetables can be planted in buckets or a 10-litre jerrycan cut at the top and you hang them under a house shade to grow . " (Female, 42 years)

For alcohol consumption, smoking and stress reduction, adjusting their workload, schedules or work composition were facilitators. In addition, those who reduced their alcohol consumption saved resources, which they liked, while engaging in physical activity and other distractive activities including work supported stress reduction.

“I enjoy football and in most cases , it takes away my stress because you come back from playing when tired and only get to rest . ” (Male, 28 years)

Among the social factors, family, peers and community support were important in facilitating behaviour change. For diet, participants noted that sharing information with their family who sometimes prepared the meals was beneficial while for physical activity, community members especially youths formed physical activity groups to play sports or run together.

“ Educating the people I stay with has helped me to stay committed to a healthy diet and keep me in check . The good relationship I have with my wives and children has also helped because they are the ones that prepare the food while I am off to look for money . ” (Male, 45 years)
“ We have colleagues with whom we studied , about 30 of us , and four are family members . So , when we are at home , we say that it is time for physical activity , then we go and do it . We are like family here .” (Male, 24 years)

On the other hand, participants who made changes in alcohol consumption reportedly avoided their peers to keep up with changes in behaviour. To support stress reduction, participants shared their challenges with colleagues and engaged in distractive activities such as work or spending time with peers. One community member also reported quitting smoking due to influence from a significant other.

“ I had been educated about the harmful effects of smoking but I had not taken any steps to stop it . I later quit smoking because my wife didn’t like it . So , to keep the relationship , I had to quit smoking .” (Male, 58 years)

This study explored uptake of healthy lifestyle practices following implementation of a community CVD prevention programme in Mukono and Buikwe districts in Uganda. The study found variations in uptake of healthy practices with most changes reported for dietary behaviour especially in vegetable (24/31) and fruit intake (13/31), reduction of salt intake (14/31) and fats and oils consumption (15/31). Changes in physical activity were also notable (19/31). On the other hand, participants were slow in making changes in alcohol consumption (7/9), smoking behaviours (2/5) and stress reduction (14/31). Community-based interventions have potential to influence changes in CVD-related behaviours including dietary practices, physical activity, smoking and alcohol use as has been previously reported [ 43 , 44 ].

The motivations for uptake of healthy behaviours were related to knowledge and individual CVD risk perception, social influence and anticipated benefits of the change similar to previous research [ 45 , 46 ]. The major benefits participants derived from changing behaviour were improvements in physical and psychosocial health and wellbeing, and social relations, which are key motivations for behaviour change per a recent review [ 45 ]. Barriers to uptake of healthy lifestyle practices were related to limited capability or skills, limited resources, accessibility challenges, low risk perception and effects of COVID-19. On the other hand, the facilitators of practices uptake were knowledge, skills and personal determination, integration of behaviour into lifestyle, and social support. A previous review of barriers and facilitators of uptake and maintenance of healthy behaviours reported a lack of knowledge, time, finances, entrenched attitudes and behaviour, and access issues as barriers [ 45 ]. Conversely, the same review highlighted the integration of behaviours into lifestyles, health benefits including healthy ageing, social support and clear messages as facilitators [ 45 ]. The role of personal determination and self-efficacy [ 47 ] and social support are critical in health behaviour change [ 46 ]. Overall, our study themes are in line with the self-determination theory which overlays emphasis on autonomy–independent decision making, competence–knowledge, skills and self-efficacy, and relatedness–social connections and networks as key determinants of intrinsic motivation that are a desirable bedrock for health behaviour change [ 32 – 34 ]. Indeed, across all behaviours and themes, personal competence and motivation differentiated participants’ motivation to change, uptake of behaviour, and maintenance of the practice. Our study themes also fit the health belief model constructs with factors such as knowledge, awareness and risk perception contributing to the perceived susceptibility, perceived severity and self-efficacy [ 48 ]. The benefits and barriers at the individual and social level influence the perceived benefits and barriers to change. These factors then interact to influence the cues to action.

Our study furthers qualitative evidence on the role of community interventions in healthy lifestyles uptake and highlights the mechanism through which this can be achieved. By building personal competence through education programmes and employing motivational interviewing techniques together with social connectedness, community members may be on the path to abandoning unhealthy behaviours. However, as noted, the interplay of these factors influenced the level of behaviour uptake. For dietary and physical activity behaviours, motivation was majorly intrinsic, participants more knowledgeable and skilled and their networks key in adopting the behaviours. On the other hand, smoking and alcohol behaviours, even with relative knowledge reported, motivation for change was more extrinsic and the social network acted in either direction. Smoking and alcohol behaviours being addictive habits are much harder to change and CHWs need further support to build the competence of community members, influence social networks and spur intrinsic motivation towards a gradual process of change. For stress, although motivation was intrinsic, there were knowledge gaps regarding stress reduction techniques as this had not been a key focus of the community intervention [ 28 ] and CHWs will need further empowerment on this as an emerging CVD risk factor in the community. The above factors notwithstanding, accessibility and resources remain key and programmes should innovatively work with community members to address these barriers. Indeed, the role of opportunity in behaviour change as advanced by the Capability, Opportunity and Motivation Behaviour (COM-B) model [ 49 ] remains key to empowering communities to adopt desired changes. Beyond these factors and as emphasised by the self-determination theory [ 32 , 34 ], the quality of the intervention and its quantity including reinforcement mechanisms are important. Insights from understanding the uptake of lifestyle practices should guide planning and design of community programmes with an emphasis on removing barriers and enhancing facilitators especially building on the intermediate motivating factors while considering individual needs and expectations. Within the SPICES project, there is further re-enforcement of messages including through more channels such as using information, education and communication materials. The project had previously encouraged more group activities which became unfeasible during the COVID-19 restrictions. Also, moving forward, training for CHWs now incorporate stress reduction techniques and continued tailoring of intervention to community groups.

We conducted this study two months after the COVID-19 total lockdown restrictions in Uganda had started to be eased and it followed a five-months-no-intervention period which impacted uptake of practices and overall programme [ 50 ]. Since the intervention was wholly delivered, it is hard to tell which components of it were most supportive. There was also possibility of social desirability bias, however, the research team was not known to most community members and contact was made directly without involving CHWs. The interview guide was also designed with more general questions at the beginning and reference to the ongoing project work was only made at the end. Otherwise, the study delved into an in-depth exploration of uptake motivations of healthy lifestyle behaviours beyond diet and physical activity which most previous studies have focused on. This study provides important evidence to guide tailoring of community interventions aimed at uptake of healthy CVD prevention behaviours in resource-limited settings. A future assessment will focus on adherence and maintenance of the adopted behaviours which was beyond the scope of this study and quantitatively evaluate the levels of uptake of the different behaviours.

This study found variations in uptake of healthy lifestyle practices for CVD prevention with most changes reported for dietary behaviour and physical activity influenced by more intrinsic motivation, higher competence and positive social influence. On the other hand, participants were slow in making changes in alcohol consumption, smoking behaviours and stress reduction due to differences in motivation, competence, and social influence. The barriers to uptake of healthy lifestyle practices were related to accessibility challenges, limited resources, limited capability or skills, low risk perception and effects of COVID-19. In contrast, the facilitators of practices’ uptake were knowledge, personal determination to change, integration of behaviour into lifestyle and social support. Insights from understanding the uptake of lifestyle practices should guide planning and design of community programmes with an emphasis on removing barriers and enhancing facilitators while considering individual needs and expectations.

Supporting information


The authors wish to thank the community members for their time and contributions to this study.

Funding Statement

This study was funded under the SPICES project in Uganda which received funding from the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation action grant agreement No 733356 to implement and evaluate a comprehensive CVD prevention program in five settings: a rural & semi-urban community in a low-income country (Uganda), middle income (South Africa) and vulnerable groups in three high-income countries (Belgium, France and United Kingdom). The funder had no role in the design, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The contents of this article are the views of the authors alone and do not represent the views of the European Union.

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Article Contents

Introduction, acknowledgements.

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Living longer and feeling better: healthy lifestyle, self-rated health, obesity and depression in Ireland

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Janas Harrington, Ivan J. Perry, Jennifer Lutomski, Anthony P. Fitzgerald, Frances Shiely, Hannah McGee, Margaret M. Barry, Eric Van Lente, Karen Morgan, Emer Shelley, Living longer and feeling better: healthy lifestyle, self-rated health, obesity and depression in Ireland, European Journal of Public Health , Volume 20, Issue 1, February 2010, Pages 91–95,

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Background: The combination of four protective lifestyle behaviours (being physically active, a non-smoker, a moderate alcohol consumer and having adequate fruit and vegetable intake) has been estimated to increase life expectancy by 14 years. However, the effect of adopting these lifestyle behaviours on general health, obesity and mental health is less defined. We examined the combined effect of these behaviours on self-rated health, overweight/obesity and depression. Methods: Using data from the Survey of Lifestyle Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN) 2007 (), a protective lifestyle behaviour (PLB) score was constructed for 10 364 men and women (>18 years), and representative of the Republic of Ireland adult population (response rate 62%). Respondents scored a maximum of four points, one point each for being physically active, consuming five or more fruit and vegetable servings daily, a non-smoker and a moderate drinker. Results: One-fifth of respondents (20%) adopted four PLBs, 35% adopted three, 29% two, 13% one and 2% adopted none. Compared to those with zero PLBs, those with four were seven times more likely to rate their general health as excellent/very good [OR 6.8 95% CI (3.64–12.82)] and four times more likely to have better mental health [OR 4.4 95% CI (2.34–8.22)]. Conclusions: Adoption of core protective lifestyle factors known to increase life expectancy is associated with positive self-rated health, healthier weight and better mental health. These lifestyles have the potential to add quality and quantity to life.

It has been known for some time that adoption of a number of core protective/health promoting lifestyle behaviours at an individual level has a potentially large positive influence on population health. There is increasing recognition of the value of these behaviourally defined protective behaviours for health promotion and population health monitoring, 1–8 and advice on smoking cessation, healthy diet, physical exercise and moderation in alcohol consumption has been a pillar of health education for many years. While anecdotally a perception exists that adoption of a healthy lifestyle may impair quality of life as evidenced by the admonition ‘You won’t live forever, it will just feel like it’, recent evidence suggests that quality as well as quantity can be added to life through the adoption of relatively minor lifestyle changes. 5

Results from the Nurse's Health Study 9 reported the positive effects of a limited number of core protective lifestyle behaviours (PLBs) [body mass index (BMI) < 25 kg m −2 ; a diet high in cereal fibre and polyunsaturated fat and low in trans fat and glycaemic load; engagement in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least half an hour per day; no current smoking and the consumption of an average of at least half a drink of an alcoholic beverage per day] in relation to the decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. This work has been replicated in a cross-sectional study with markers of cardiovascular risk including hypertension, dyslipidaemia and insulin resistance. 4 , 5 , 10 More recently, Khaw et al. , 1 in their work from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study, focused on behaviourally defined measures. They identified four lifestyle behaviours: being physically active, a non-smoker, having a moderate alcohol consumption and an adequate fruit and vegetable intake and found that the combined effect of these health behaviours predicted a 4-fold difference in total mortality in men and women, 1 equating to a 14-year difference in life expectancy between individuals practising none of these behaviours relative to those practising all four of them. In further work from the EPIC study, Myint et al. 11 concluded that behavioural factors were associated with substantial differences in age-related decline in functional health and the prevalence of those in good and poor functional health in the community.

Examining the effects of individual risk factors for chronic disease and poor physical and mental health is not a new concept; however, their combined effect on general health, obesity and mental health is less well defined. The aim of this study was to examine the combined effect of practising four non-clinically defined lifestyle behaviours (being a non-smoker, being physically active, being a moderate drinker, and consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables daily) on self-rated health, overweight/obesity and mental health.

Based on the work by Khaw et al. , 1 we constructed a PLB score. Participants scored one point for each of the following health behaviours: being a non-smoker, being physically active (moderate/high activity score), being a moderate drinker (1–14 alcohol units per week) and consuming five or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Respondents could score from zero to four on protective health behaviours.

General study design

The study was the third national Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN) in Ireland conducted in 2007, 12–14 involving a nationally representative sample of 10 364 respondents (62% response rate) to whom a detailed health and lifestyle questionnaire was administered by face-to-face interview. In addition, 9223 (89%) completed a Willett Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). The FFQ was an adapted version of the EPIC study, 15 validated for use in the Irish population. 16 Participants who did not complete a FFQ were excluded from this analysis.

The population for the survey was defined as adults aged 18 years and over living in residential households in Ireland (residents of institutions, nursing homes, hospitals, prisons and homeless hostels were not included). Full details of the sampling frame and weighting can be found elsewhere. 12 In summary, the sampling frame used for the survey was the GeoDirectory, a list of all addresses in the Republic of Ireland, which distinguishes between residential and commercial establishments. The sample was a multi-stage probability sample, where each dwelling has a known probability of selection. The sample was weighted to closely approximate the Census 2006 figures for gender, age, marital status, education, occupation, region, household size and ethnicity.

Health and lifestyle questionnaire

A single question was included on self-rated health, respondents were asked to rate their health on a 5-point scale ranging from ‘excellent’ to ‘poor’. Being a current smoker was defined as smoking either ‘every day’ or ‘some days’. Non-smokers were classified as those who had never smoked; former smokers were those who had smoked ‘at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime’ but do not currently smoke. For the purpose of this article, current smokers are compared with non-smokers. Average alcohol consumption was estimated as the units of alcohol consumed per week. For the purpose of this article, a moderate drinker was defined as someone who consumed between 1 and 14 units a week. A unit is defined as either ‘a half pint of beer; a single measure of spirits; or as a single glass of wine, sherry or port’. Respondents were also asked if they had experienced any chronic illness from a pre-defined list in the previous 12 months.

International physical activity questionnaire (IPAQ)

Respondents were asked a series of questions relating to the time they spent being physically active. The responses were used to calculate a physical activity score (IPAQ score) for each respondent. These scores were classified as high (over 10 000 steps per day), moderate (5000–10 000 steps per day) or low (less than 5000 steps per day). For this analysis, a binary variable was created; ‘low’ or ‘moderate/high’, ‘low’ was defined as being physically inactive.

Composite international diagnostic interview (CIDI)

Respondents were asked a series of questions pertaining to their mental health status. The CIDI-SF (short form) Version 1.1 health interview survey, part of which was incorporated in the main SLÁN interview, provides a probable diagnosis (CIDI-SF yields a likelihood of having a major depression rather than a full diagnosis; hence, the term ‘probable Major Depressive Disorder’ is used throughout this article) of major depressive disorder. 17 Full details of the mental health measures have been reported elsewhere. 18

Food frequency questionnaire

The dietary habits of respondents who completed a FFQ were analysed in relation to food groups. Full details of the FFQ have been documented elsewhere. 19 For this analysis, fruit and vegetable intake was collapsed to a binary variable with participants categorized as consuming ‘five or more servings daily’ or ‘less than five servings daily’.

SLÁN 2007 respondents were also asked to self-report their own height and weight. BMI was calculated based on the standard formula [height (m)/weight (kg) × weight (kg)], they were classified as overweight or obese based on a BMI score of ≥25 or 30 kg m −2 , respectively.

Statistical analysis

Data were analysed using SPSS TM (Version 15.0). Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between PLB score, self-rated health, probable depressive disorder and obesity levels after adjusting for age, sex, education and social class. Additionally, we examined the relationship between PLB score and past diagnoses of medically diagnosed chronic illness.

Table 1 shows a breakdown of the relevant participant characteristics differentiated by gender. Higher proportions of women were of normal weight and consumed five or more daily servings of fruit and vegetables compared with men. Men were more likely to be smokers, to consume more alcohol and to be physically active compared with women. Women were more likely to have adopted more of the PLBs. Table 2 shows the age, gender, social demographic profile and the distribution of key outcome variables in five groups of study participants defined on the basis of number of PLBs. Clear and highly significant trends were seen for age, gender, education and social classification status. Those with three and four PLBs were more likely to be female, in the younger/middle age group to have tertiary education and to be in the ‘large employers/professional/manager’ socioeconomic classification group. Respondents with a lower PLB score were significantly more likely to have a depressive disorder ( P < 0.01).

Distribution of variables for SLÁN 2007 participants included in this analysis (participants who did not complete a FFQ were excluded from the analysis)

a: Smoker was classified as someone who smokes either everyday or some days

*Significant gender difference P < 0.01; ***Significant gender difference P < 0.05

Demographic breakdown by number of protective lifestyle behaviours practised

Associations between PLBs and feeling healthy

The association between PLB score, self-rated health, healthy weight and better mental health adjusted for age, sex, education and social class is shown in table 3 . For self-rated health and depressive state, clear and highly significant trends in odds ratios were observed across the five groups of study participants. These trends were not as obvious for body weight. Relative to those with zero PLBs, those with four were almost seven times more likely to rate their general health as excellent/very good [OR 6.8, 95% CI (3.64–12.82)]. These trends persisted even when the model was adjusted for depressive disorders. Those with four PLBs were also four times more likely to have better mental health [OR 4.4, 95% CI (2.34–8.22)] indicating a better overall general health and well-being. While similar trends were not as obvious in relation to BMI status, those with four PLBs had an elevated likelihood of being normal weight (BMI < 25 kg m −2 ) than overweight/obese (BMI > 25 kg m −2 ) compared with those with fewer PLBs.

Respondent's likelihood of self-rated general health being excellent/very good/good; likelihood of BMI <25 kg m −2 and the likelihood of not having depressive disorder compared with having depressive disorder by number of protective lifestyle behaviours adjusted for age, gender, education and social class

*For trend significant P < 0.01

We know from longitudinal studies that PLBs increase longevity 1 ; this article shows that they are also associated with better self-rated health, better mental health and healthier body weight; conversely, those who had fewer PLBs were ‘not only’ leading unhealthier lifestyles, but they also perceived their overall health to be poorer, had a higher likelihood of having depression and were heavier than those with higher numbers of PLBs. Higher scores were also less likely to be associated with being diagnosed with a cardiovascular event and being diagnosed with any illness by a doctor in the last 12 months. While our results are congruent with the work by Khaw et al. 1 and Myint et al. 11 who examined the relationship between PLBs and mortality 1 and PLBs and functional health, 11 this is one of the first studies to look at self-rated health, depression and overweight/obesity in relation to PLBs.

Limitations of the study include the cross-sectional design, and the relatively low response rate (62%). However, this is similar to response rates seen in other major National Health and Lifestyle Surveys. 13 , 14 It is increasingly difficult to get high response rates from national general population surveys due to the sociodemographic trends in the modern society including longer working days and the phenomenon of gated communities, particularly in urban areas. Unfortunately, data on non-participation are not available. However, sample weights were used derived from the most recent Census. 20 Interpretation of the data must be cautious; since exposure and outcome were measured at the same time, it is not possible to ascertain which is the cause and which is the effect. It can be argued that persons with better than average self-rated health and better mental health are more likely to engage in health seeking behaviour. The issue of reverse causation cannot be resolved in this study; however, it is likely that the causal effects of these health seeking behaviours flow in both directions are mutually beneficial: better mental health and better self-rated health leading to increased health seeking behaviours and vice versa. What is clear is that there is no evidence to suggest that the presence of health seeking behaviours is associated with poorer mental health and well-being.

Our findings add to the evidence that we can achieve progress to address the ‘causes of the causes’ of all-cause mortality, mental ill health and cardiovascular disease through small achievable lifestyle behaviour modifications. A key challenge for future research is to better understand the individual and societal determinants of health-seeking behaviour. For instance, there is emerging data highlighting the importance of adverse childhood experiences as a determinant of health-related behaviour in adult life. 21 Data from the USA 22–24 show that children with low rates of childhood adversity not only have better mental health in adult life but better physical health with lower rates of high-risk behaviours and conditions e.g. obesity.

Given the association between self-rated health, better mental health and higher numbers of PLBs, we propose that the four lifestyle behaviours detailed in this article be used as outcome measures from which effectiveness of public health policy can be gauged.

SLÁN was funded by the Department of Health and Children.

Conflicts of interest : None declared.

Being a non-smoker, being physically active, having a moderate alcohol intake and consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables daily are associated with better self-rated health, better mental health and a healthier weight.

We would propose that the four lifestyle behaviours detailed in this article be used as outcome measures from which effectiveness of public policy can be gauged.

The authors thank other SLÁN 2007 Consortium members for their contribution to this research. Consortium members: Professor Hannah McGee (Project Director)(RCSI), Professor Ivan Perry (PI)(UCC), Professor Margaret Barry (PI)(NUIG), Dr. Dorothy Watson (PI)(ESRI), Dr Karen Morgan (Research Manager, RCSI), Dr. Emer Shelley (RCSI), Professor Ronan Conroy (RCSI), Professor Ruairí Brugha (RCSI), Dr. Michal Molcho (NUIG), Ms. Janas Harrington (UCC) and Professor Richard Layte (ESRI), Ms Nuala Tully (RCSI), Ms Jennifer Lutomski (UCC), Mr Mark Ward (RCSI) and Mr Eric Van Lente (NUIG). Also Jan van den Broeck for his helpful comments during the drafting of the paper. SLÁN 2007 was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.

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What Does It Mean to Be “Healthy”

Leslie is a writer specializing in healthcare and nutrition, mental health and wellness, and environmental conservation/sustainability.

article writing on healthy lifestyle

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

What Makes up a “Healthy Life”

How to know if you’re living a healthy life, how to know it’s time for a change, frequently asked questions.

While "healthy" is a term that gets thrown into conversations regularly, its flippant versatility can be confusing. If you search Instagram, you'll find insight into what society collectively considers the healthy ideal: fitness models behind filters, bodybuilders and their supplements, detoxing and fad diet claims , the virtues of “clean-eating,” and an extreme amount of juicing. You get the picture—you’ve probably seen the pictures, too. 

Researchers pinpoint some major problems with this near-constant imagery. First, media (particularly social media) plays a huge role in shaping what behaviors people consider important to reach a certain goal. But since these behaviors prioritize physical appearance, they’re generally linked with negative psychological effects and poorer physical health outcomes.

It comes down to this paradox: studies routinely show that someone's body shape is not a good indicator of how healthy they actually are. In a world where poor body image is fairly common, it's fair to question whether or not we may be missing the mark on what it means to be healthy.

Those fitness influencers aren’t exactly wrong —things like healthy foods, daily movement, and lifestyle factors such as not smoking are extremely important to living a healthy life. But how many greens you eat isn't the only thing you need to paint a full picture of wellness.

A healthy lifestyle is more multi-faceted than what you see on social media, and it requires a good balance to maintain. New research published in the British Medical Journal breaks it down like this: you can’t outrun a poor diet at the gym, and all the juice cleansing in the world won’t make up for a sedentary lifestyle .

You don’t have to make sweeping changes to these parts of your lifestyle all at once. In fact, studies show that making small adjustments, bit by bit, sets you up for more sustainable long-term habits.

In our culture of weight-loss diets, it can be easy to overlook balanced nutrition. While getting too much salt, sugar, and saturated fat in your diet raises your risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, it’s not all about what you should restrict and avoid.

Making sure you’re eating enough nutrient-rich food is essential to all aspects of your health. For example:

  • Lacking nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K is linked with sleep problems.
  • Not getting enough protein can lead to slowed metabolism and weight gain.
  • Healthy fats are essential to help protect you against heart disease and can help keep your energy levels high.

In addition, “depression and nutrition are very closely linked,” says Briana Severine ,  MS, LPC, LAC, CPRP, founder of Sanare Psychosocial Rehabilitation. “Healthy diets such as the Mediterranean diet have been associated with reduced risk of depression symptoms,” she states.

Regular physical activity doesn’t just help with weight management. It also has the potential to reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, help maintain healthy bones and joints, and contribute to better mental health and mood. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 60 percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity each day —certainly not working up enough of a sweat to require a cooling towel .

Briana Severine, MS, LPC, LAC, CPRP

Even a brisk 10-minute walk is proven to boost mood in folks who are experiencing stress.

According to researchers, people say they don’t exercise for pretty consistent reasons—there’s not enough time, they don’t have access to resources, and they’re tired.

But here’s the key: you don’t have to have a highly-skilled, time-consuming fitness regimen to reap the benefits of physical activity. Studies show:

  • Going on a brisk 10-minute walk every day could extend your lifespan.
  • Getting your heart rate up for just 12 minutes a day can help protect your cardiovascular system.

Additional Wellness Factors

“Since sleep is a key time that your body uses to recover and rest, not getting enough of it can have consequences,” says  Jeffrey Dlott , Medical Director of Consumer Health at Quest Diagnostics.

While a bad night’s rest here and there is no big deal, health problems start to emerge if it becomes a regular thing. “[Sleep deprivation] can lead to a weakened immune system, which in turn leads to more illness, and over time it can also increase your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more," Dlott notes.

Chronic stress has a big effect on your health and well-being, too. Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, and high, sustained levels can suppress your immune system. “It can also lead to the development of other chronic health conditions, like heart disease and depression, over time if left unmanaged," Dlott emphasizes.

“The human body and its various organs and tissues are the most complex structures in the known galaxy, and the hints they emit about underlying trouble can often be subtle,” says J. Wes Ulm , MD, PhD. “So be aware of yourself as much as possible—if you seem to be detecting that something is off, take it seriously and prime your internal antenna for possible underlying health conditions or the need for lifestyle changes.” 

Keep in mind that a healthy, sustainable lifestyle for one person may not be what’s best for another. But the experts say to look out for these signs you’re living a healthy life. 

Your Energy Levels are Stable

Having good amounts of energy throughout the day is a tell-tale sign you’re getting high-quality sleep. But your energy levels can also offer clues on your nutritional intake, particularly of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The right combination of these macronutrients can be a bit different for everyone, especially depending on factors like your physical activity. But paying attention to your energy at different points of the day can help guide what’s right for you.

You Handle Stress Well

Stress is an inevitable part of life. Researchers say it can even be good for you when you approach it in a healthy way. One sign you’re dealing with stress well is in your ability to set boundaries. By learning to set boundaries, you’re recognizing and prioritizing your needs, Severine explains. This could include boundaries for your physical space, emotional needs, the time you spend (or don’t spend) on certain things, sexual interactions, respect for your thoughts and ideas, and material possessions. 

You’ve Got Fresh Breath

“Dentists often say the mouth is a window into the health of the body,” says James E Galati , DDS, PC, President, New York State Dental Association. Poor oral health leads to a buildup of bacteria that can spread throughout your respiratory and digestive tracts.

“Studies suggest that increased bacteria entering your body can lower your immune response and make you more likely to develop general health problems, including heart disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia,” according to Galati. Chronic bad breath is a common sign of poor oral health.

You Check In With Your Doctor

"One important point I would also like to stress when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is how important it is to seek preventive care,” notes Dlott. A 2015 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that only eight percent of U.S. adults received the appropriate preventive care recommended.

But routine health screenings and checkups may help prevent illness, disease, and chronic health conditions and help detect illnesses in earlier stages when treatment is likely to work best, he explains, which may lead to better health outcomes.

“People know their bodies best, so if something feels off, it’s important to look at your lifestyle habits and be honest about changes that may need to be implemented to help improve our health and lessen our risk of chronic health conditions,” encourages Dlott. 

You’re Always Sick

“There is virtually no way to keep from coming down with an illness from time to time—U.S. adults average two to four colds per year, although it can vary,” says Dlott. “But when it becomes very cyclical, it can signal that there may be factors contributing to a weakened immune system that causes people to succumb to illnesses more easily.”

Your Stomach Is Constantly “Off”

Always feeling bloated, backed-up, or plagued by acid reflux or indigestion? Poor diet, lack of fiber in your diet , not enough physical movement, and low hydration are each common causes of tummy troubles, Dr. Dlott explains. “One other potential culprit is chronic stress, as issues with digestion can also be a symptom triggered by stress.”

Household Chores Are Exhausting

Feeling winded from relatively minor physical activity like household chores is a hallmark of low aerobic tolerance, according to Ulm. “Poor stress tolerance, fatigue, difficulty in healing, and general malaise and a persistently foul mood can also be subtle signs of inadequate physical activity .” 

You’re Extra Irritable

“Each individual is different in the warning signs that present when their mental health is suffering,” Severine advises. But if you’re unusually irritable or quick to anger, that’s a common signal to prioritize your self-care and prevent a larger mental health crisis. Other signs include difficulty waking or getting out of bed, shifts in eating patterns , increased isolation from others, and difficulty concentrating, Severine adds.

You Struggle to Fall Asleep

Dlott points out that difficulty falling asleep is often another sign of chronic stress. But it can also point to problems with your nutrition . Research published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences says that skipping meals, eating too quickly, large meals, irregular mealtimes, and poor food quality are all dietary contributors to sleep disorders like insomnia.

A Word From Verywell

"Healthy" looks and feels different to everyone, so it’s important to listen to your body and its cues. Don’t make any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle without talking to a doctor. Dlott encourages everyone to “connect with a healthcare provider who can help navigate any symptoms or changes you’re experiencing, including tips on integrating some lifestyle modifications that can help contribute to better overall health."

The healthiest morning routine will be unique to you and will be something you can stick to in the long term. But the experts say to include elements like drinking water, eating something nutritious, brushing your teeth, and getting a bit of movement.

There’s no such thing as being 100% healthy; striving for perfection can lead to problems like disordered eating, negative body image, and stress on your mental health. Instead, focus on making small, sustainable changes that involve nutritious dietary choices, physical movement, and mindfulness.    

Getting more sleep, doing a little bit of movement every day, controlling your stress, and ensuring (but not obsessing over) proper nutrition will go a long way in improving your health.

Binder A, Noetzel S, Spielvogel I, Matthes J. “Context, please? ” the effects of appearance- and health-frames and media context on body-related outcomes. Front Public Health. 2021;0. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2021.637354

Uhlmann LR, Donovan CL, Zimmer-Gembeck MJ, Bell HS, Ramme RA. The fit beauty ideal: A healthy alternative to thinness or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Body Image. 2018;25:23-30. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.01.005

Ding D, Buskirk JV, Nguyen B, et al. Physical activity, diet quality and all-cause cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality: a prospective study of 346 627 UK Biobank participants. Br J Sports Med . Published online July 8, 2022. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2021-105195

Adhikari P, Gollub E. Evaluation of the small changes, healthy habits pilot program: its influence on healthy eating and physical activity behaviors of adults in Louisiana. Eur J Investig Health Psychol Educ . 2021;11(1):251-262. doi:10.3390/ejihpe11010019

How dietary factors influence disease risk. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Ikonte CJ, Mun JG, Reider CA, Grant RW, Mitmesser SH. Micronutrient inadequacy in short sleep: analysis of the nhanes 2005-2016. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):E2335. doi:10.3390/nu11102335

Pezeshki A, Zapata RC, Singh A, Yee NJ, Chelikani PK. Low protein diets produce divergent effects on energy balance. Sci Rep . 2016;6:25145. doi:10.1038/srep25145

Gammone MA, Riccioni G, Parrinello G, D’Orazio N. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: benefits and endpoints in sport. Nutrients . 2018;11(1):46. doi:10.3390/nu11010046

Oddo VM, Welke L, McLeod A, et al. Adherence to a mediterranean diet is associated with lower depressive symptoms among U.S. adults .  Nutrients . 2022;14(2):278. doi:10.3390/nu14020278

Adults | surgeon general report | cdc.

Koh YS, Asharani PV, Devi F, et al. A cross-sectional study on the perceived barriers to physical activity and their associations with domain-specific physical activity and sedentary behaviour. BMC Public Health . 2022;22(1):1051. doi:10.1186/s12889-022-13431-2

Saint-Maurice PF, Graubard BI, Troiano RP, et al. Estimated number of deaths prevented through increased physical activity among us adults. JAMA Intern Med . 2022;182(3):349-352. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.7755

Nayor M, Shah RV, Miller PE, et al. Metabolic architecture of acute exercise response in middle-aged adults in the community . Circulation . 2020;142(20):1905-1924. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.050281

Seiler A, Fagundes CP, Christian LM. The impact of everyday stressors on the immune system and health. In: Choukèr A, ed. Stress Challenges and Immunity in Space: From Mechanisms to Monitoring and Preventive Strategies. Springer International Publishing; 2020:71-92. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-16996-1_6

Melaku YA, Reynolds AC, Gill TK, Appleton S, Adams R. Association between macronutrient intake and excessive daytime sleepiness: an iso-caloric substitution analysis from the north west adelaide health study. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2374. doi:10.3390/nu11102374

Jamieson, J. P., Black, A. E., Pelaia, L. E., Gravelding, H., Gordils, J., & Reis, H. T. (2022). Reappraising stress arousal improves affective, neuroendocrine, and academic performance outcomes in community college classrooms . Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 151 (1), 197–212. doi:10.1037/xge0000893

Borsky A, Zhan C, Miller T, Ngo-Metzger Q, Bierman AS, Meyers D. Few Americans receive all high-priority, appropriate clinical preventive services. Health Affairs . 2018;37(6):925-928. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2017.1248

Vernia F, Di Ruscio M, Ciccone A, et al. Sleep disorders related to nutrition and digestive diseases: a neglected clinical condition. Int J Med Sci . 2021;18(3):593-603. doi:10.7150/ijms.45512

By Leslie Finlay Leslie is a writer specializing in healthcare and nutrition, mental health and wellness, and environmental conservation/sustainability. She holds a Master's degree in Public Policy focused on the intersection between public health and environmental conservation.

English that goes straight to the heart

Article on Healthy Lifestyle

Wealth matters, but, is not as important as health. Money is the source to carry on with a healthy life however good health is the source of living a happy and peaceful life.

So, everyone should take many precautions in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Everyone should be away from bad habits and unhealthy lifestyles. This article on healthy lifestyle will make you understand everything.

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Article on health

Article on Healthy Lifestyle (500 Words)


In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, maintaining a healthy lifestyle has become more important than ever. A healthy lifestyle encompasses a variety of choices and habits that prioritize physical, mental, and emotional well-being. However, recent studies have revealed that the stress and demands of modern life can lead to various medical conditions, such as heart problems and neurological disorders.

The saying, “The greatest wealth is our own health,” holds true as no amount of material riches can compensate for the absence of good health. While a healthy body has the potential to amass wealth, the reverse is not necessarily true. Prioritizing one’s health allows individuals to approach work and life with a positive attitude, fostering success in all aspects of life.

The fast-paced nature of modern life often leaves individuals with little time for self-care. Unhealthy eating habits, such as consuming junk food for taste and neglecting balanced diets, have become commonplace. A healthy lifestyle, on the other hand, reduces stress levels, supports mental well-being, and enables individuals to face life’s challenges with vitality.

A healthy lifestyle starts with a balanced and nutritious diet. A healthy diet is a cornerstone of maintaining good health. It should consist of essential nutrients such as proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and adequate calories. Emphasizing the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, and yogurt contributes to overall well-being. Additionally, adhering to fixed meal times, consuming the right quantities, and avoiding unhealthy and fried foods is vital.

Regular physical activity is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy body requires regular physical activity. Daily exercise promotes physical fitness, boosts energy levels, and improves mental clarity. Engaging in activities such as walking, jogging , or participating in sports not only enhances physical well-being but also strengthens the immune system, making individuals more resistant to infections and diseases.

Adequate rest and sleep, personal hygiene, and a healthy environment are integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Sufficient sleep rejuvenates the body while maintaining cleanliness and hygiene safeguards against illness. Fresh air, clean water, and a positive living environment contribute to overall well-being and help prevent various health issues.

In conclusion, adopting a healthy lifestyle is paramount for individuals seeking to lead fulfilling lives. While wealth may hold its own importance, it pales in comparison to the value of good health. A healthy body enables individuals to perform optimally in all aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional endeavors. By prioritizing a balanced diet, regular physical activity, adequate rest, and a clean environment, individuals can ensure their physical, mental, social, intellectual, and financial well-being. In essence, good health is the foundation for a happy and prosperous life, and it is incumbent upon each individual to embrace and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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  • Healthy Lifestyle Essay


Essay on Healthy Lifestyle

The top secret of being physically fit is adopting a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, taking good care of self, healthy sleep habits, and having a physically active daily routine. Lifestyle is the most prevailing factor that affects one’s fitness level. A person leading a sedentary lifestyle has a low fitness level whereas living a healthier life not only makes a person fit but also extends life. Good health has a direct impact on our personality. A person with a good and healthy lifestyle is generally more confident, self-assured, sociable, and energetic.

A good and healthy lifestyle allows one to relish and savor all the pleasures in life without any complications. Even all the wealth is less valuable when compared to sound health. Having all the luxuries in the world does not fulfill its purpose when one is continuously ill, depressed, or suffering from a significant health complication. A healthy person has a clear and calm perception of everything without prejudice. His actions and decisions are more practical and logical and are hence more successful in life.

A good habit is a key factor for a healthy lifestyle. To maintain a stable body and mind, one needs to inculcate good habits. Waking up early in the morning, regularly exercising or a good morning walk helps to keep our body energetic and refresh our mind. Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet throughout the day is vital for maintaining a good lifestyle. Too much indulgence in alcohol or smoking excessively is not at all appropriate for a healthy lifestyle.


Self-discipline is important for maintaining a good lifestyle. When we are self-disciplined then we are more organized and regular in maintaining good health. A disciplined life is a regulated life. A man without discipline is a ship without a rudder. Discipline needs self-control. One who cannot control himself can seldom control others. The level of discipline and perseverance largely determines a person’s success. Self-discipline is the act of disciplining one’s own feelings, desires, etc. especially with the intention of improving oneself. It strengthens our willpower. The stronger our will power the positive will be our decision. It enables us to conquer our own self.


Punctuality is the habit of doing things on time. It is the characteristic of every successful person and everyone must observe punctuality in order to win success in life. Punctuality is necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It should become a habit with us. A punctual person is able to fulfill all his responsibilities and hence is treated with respect in society. It is needed in every walk of life.

Diet is an important component for overall fitness and works best in combination with exercise. A balanced diet and exercise regularly help to maintain good health. It is necessary to reduce weight if one is overweight or obese, failing which one cannot be physically fit for long. For people with obesity, more exercise and a strict regime are necessary, preferably under guidance. There are many ways of making the diet healthier.

Use less sugar and salt while cooking food.

Use less oil while cooking. Avoid deep-frying as much as possible. 

Eat more fruits daily. They provide more vitamins and minerals to our bodies.

Add sprouts of gram and moong dal to at least one meal in a day. Add fiber to your diet. Use whole grains instead of polished cereals. Eat lots of salad and yogurt.

Eat fermented food regularly. Fermented food contains many useful bacteria that help in the process of digestion.

Prevention of Lifestyle Diseases

By adopting a healthy lifestyle one can avoid lifestyle diseases. The following are some ways in which we can prevent lifestyle diseases.

Eat a balanced diet that contains important nutrients. One must include more fresh fruits and green vegetables in the diet. Refrain from eating junk food. Stay away from foods that contain large amounts of salt or sugar.

Exercise regularly. Spend more time outdoors and do activities such as walking, running, swimming, and cycling.

One must avoid overindulgence in alcohol, junk food, smoking, and addiction to drugs and medicines.

Avoid spending too much on modern gadgets like mobile phones, laptops, televisions, etc. Spend time on these gadgets for short intervals of time only.

Set a healthy sleeping routine for every day. Waking early in the morning and going to bed early at night should be a daily habit. Lead an active life.

Unhealthy Lifestyle

Bad food habits and an unhealthy lifestyle such as less or no physical activity may lead to several diseases like obesity, high blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, anemia, and various heart diseases. An unhealthy lifestyle reduces productivity and creativity in a person. It also adversely affects moods and relationships. It leads to depression and anxiety in human beings.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle not only makes a person confident and productive but also drives him to success. A person with a healthy lifestyle will enjoy both personal and social life.


FAQs on Healthy Lifestyle Essay

What Do You Understand about a Healthy Lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle is a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, taking good care of self, healthy sleep habits and having a physically active daily routine.

How is Punctuality Important for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle?

Punctuality is the habit of doing things on time. It is the characteristic of every successful person and everyone must observe punctuality in order to win success in life. It should become a habit with us. A punctual person is able to fulfil all his responsibilities and hence is treated with respect in society. It is needed in every walk of life.

What Happens When One Does Not Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle?

When one does not maintain a healthy lifestyle then several diseases like obesity, high blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, anaemia and various heart diseases can occur. An unhealthy lifestyle reduces productivity and creativity in a person. It also adversely affects moods and relationships. It leads to depression and anxiety in human beings.

What are the Main Factors that Determine a Good and Healthy Lifestyle?

In order to maintain a good and healthy lifestyle, one must be self-disciplined, self-motivated, maintain punctuality and have good habits like waking early in the morning and maintain a regular fitness regime and a balanced and nutritious diet.

Is writing an essay hard?

Essay writing is a difficult task that needs a great deal of study, time, and focus. It's also an assignment that you can divide down into manageable chunks such as introduction, main content, and conclusion. Breaking down and focusing on each individually makes essay writing more pleasant. It's natural for students to be concerned about writing an essay. It's one of the most difficult tasks to do, especially for people who aren't confident in their writing abilities. While writing a decent essay is difficult, the secret to being proficient at it is reading a lot of books, conducting extensive research on essential topics, and practicing essay writing diligently.

Why is it important for one to aspire to have a healthy lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle is an important way for reducing the occurrence and impact of health problems, as well as for recovery, coping with life stressors, and improving the overall quality of life. An increasing collection of scientific data suggests that our habits have a significant impact on our health. Everything we eat and drink, as well as how much exercise we get and whether we smoke or use drugs, has an impact on our health, not just in terms of life expectancy but also in terms of how long we may expect to live without developing chronic illness. A large proportion of fatalities are caused by conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, joint disease, and mental illness. A healthy lifestyle can help to avoid or at least delay the onset of many health issues.

How to download the Essay on Healthy Lifestyle from the Vedantu website?

The Essay on Healthy Lifestyle, which is accurate and well-structured, is available for download on the Vedantu website. The Essay is accessible in PDF format on Vedantu's official website and may be downloaded for free. Students should download the Essay on Healthy Lifestyle from the Vedantu website to obtain a sense of the word limit, sentence structure, and fundamental grasp of what makes a successful essay. Vedantu essay is brief and appropriate for youngsters in school. It is written in basic English, which is ideal for kids who have a restricted vocabulary. Following the Vedantu essay ensures that students are adequately prepared for any essay subject and that they will receive high grades. Click here to read the essay about a healthy lifestyle.

Who prepares the Essay for Vedantu?

The Essay on Healthy Lifestyle designed for the Vedantu is created by a group of experts and experienced teachers. The panel of experts has created the essay after analyzing important essay topics that have been repeatedly asked in various examinations. The Essays that are provided by Vedantu are not only well-structured but also accurate and concise. They are aptly suited for young students with limited vocabulary. For best results, the students are advised to go through multiple essays and practice the topics on their own to inculcate the habits of time management and speed.

What constitutes a healthy lifestyle?

Healthy life is built on the pillars of a good diet, frequent exercise, and appropriate sleep. A healthy lifestyle keeps people in excellent shape, it also gives you more energy throughout the day, and lowers your chance of developing many diet-related chronic diseases. Healthy living is considered a lifestyle choice that allows you to enjoy more elements of your life. Taking care of one's physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being is part of living a healthy lifestyle.

Good Nutrition, Eating Right and proper diet.

Getting Physically Fit, Beneficial Exercise and working out often.

Adequate rest and uninterrupted sleep.

Proper Stress Management.

Self-Supportive Attitudes.

Positive Thoughts are encouraged.

Positive Self-Image and body image.

Inner Calmness and peace.

Openness to Your Creativity and Self-care.

Trust in Your Inner Knowing and your gut feeling.

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Sharon Theimer

Lifestyle links to heart health go beyond food, exercise, Mayo Clinic Healthcare expert explains

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Countries around the world observe Heart Month in February

LONDON — What are steps you can take beyond a healthy diet and exercise to improve your heart health ? In this expert alert, Gosia Wamil, M.D., Ph.D. , a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London, answers that question and more. 

Dr. Gosia Wamil

1. Does loneliness affect heart health?

Loneliness and social isolation have been linked to heart disease, Dr. Wamil says.

"Studies suggest that people who experience chronic loneliness may be at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases," Dr. Wamil says. "Social connections and supportive relationships contribute to overall well-being, and the lack of these connections can lead to increased stress, inflammation and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, all of which can impact heart health adversely." Socializing is generally good for heart health, Dr. Wamil adds.

"Positive social interactions can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve overall emotional well-being," she says. "Engaging in social activities, spending time with loved ones and building a solid social support network can protect the heart."

2. How does alcohol affect the heart?

"While moderate alcohol consumption may have some cardiovascular benefits, excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias," Dr. Wamil says. "It's crucial to adhere to recommended guidelines for alcohol intake and consult with a healthcare professional about individual risk factors."

3. How can someone tell the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack?

" Heart attack symptoms often include radiating pain to the left arm, your jaw or back. Other symptoms can be nausea and sweating," Dr. Wamil says. " Panic attacks may involve a sudden surge of intense fear and discomfort, often with a feeling of impending doom."

Dr. Wamil advises against guessing the answer to this question.

"If unsure, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms suggestive of a heart attack, as this condition requires prompt evaluation and treatment," she says. 4. What signs or symptoms should you watch for in your overall heart health?

Signs of potential heart issues include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and irregular heartbeats. It's important to be aware of these symptoms and seek medical attention if they occur, especially if they are severe or persistent.

5. How can you protect your heart health during festive times, when food is plentiful, and you may not exercise as often?

It's all about mindfulness , Dr. Wamil says.

"Pay attention to portion sizes and avoid overindulging in high-calorie and high-fat foods," she says.  "Moderation is vital when it comes to alcohol to prevent potential heart issues. Keep your body active by incorporating physical activities into your festive routines, helping to counteract the effects of increased calorie intake. Manage stress with techniques like mindfulness and deep breathing, as stress can impact your heart health."

Avoid highly processed foods that contain added sugars, excessive salt and trans fats, and limit saturated fats in red meat, full-fat dairy and fried foods, she adds.

"These simple steps can contribute to a healthier and happier festive season for your heart," Dr. Wamil says.

6. What are some heart-healthy foods that people can work into their meals? Heart-healthy foods include fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, Dr. Wamil says.

"Whole grains are also important," she adds. "Oats, quinoa and brown rice provide fibre and nutrients."

When it comes to protein, focus on lean options, such as fish, beans, legumes and skinless poultry. Also consider working in healthy fats by adding avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil to your diet, Dr. Wamil says.

About Mayo Clinic Healthcare Mayo Clinic Healthcare, located in London, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mayo Clinic , a not-for-profit academic medical center. Mayo Clinic is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report in more specialties than any other hospital for a reason: quality of care. Mayo Clinic Healthcare is the U.K.'s front door to that unparalleled experience. Visit Mayo Clinic Healthcare for more information.

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This is an example of how to write an article about being healthy for B1 Preliminary Writng Part 2 Article. It provides practice for the writing section of  the Cambridge English B1 Preliminary exam.  

B1 Preliminary Writing Part 2 Article: Being Healthy

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Essay on Healthy Lifestyle for Students and Children

Apples, Apples book

500+ Words Essay on Healthy Lifestyle

It is said that it is easy to learn and maintain bad habits but it is very difficult to switch them back. The issue of a healthy lifestyle is very serious but the people take it very lightly. Often, it is seen that the people take steps to improve their lifestyle but due to lack of determination quits in the midway.

Moreover, for a healthy lifestyle is it important that you take small and one-step at a time. Also, do not go overboard with it. Besides, this healthy lifestyle will help you in life in a lot of ways.

Essay on Healthy Lifestyle

Habits That Keeps You Healthy

For keeping your body and mind healthy you have to follow certain rules that will help you achieve your goal. Besides, there are certain measures that will help you to stay healthy.

First of all, for being healthy you have to plan and follow a strict diet. This diet should contain all the essential minerals and vitamins required by the body. Also, eat only healthy food and avoid junk and heavily carbohydrate and fatty food.

In addition, wake up early in the morning because first of all, it’s a healthy habit. Secondly, waking up early means you can get ready for your work early, spend some quality time with your family. Besides, this decides time for your sleep and sleep early because it de-stresses body.

Doing exercise regularly makes your body more active and it also releases the pent-up stress from the muscles.

Avoid the mobile- the biggest drawback of this generation is that they are obsessed with their mobile phones. Moreover, these phones cause many physical and mental problem for them. So, to avoid the negative effects of mobile the usage volume of them should be reduced.

Connecting with positive minds because the more you indulge with these people then less you will go to the negative side.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

The things that should be avoided for a healthy lifestyle

We knew that there are several bad habits that affect our healthy lifestyle. These habits can cause much harm to not only to the body but to the society too. In addition, these habits are also the cause of many evils of society. The major healthy lifestyle destroying habits are smoking, drinking, junk food, addiction , meal skipping, and overuse of pills.

All these activities severely damage body parts and organs which cannot be replaced easily. Besides, they not only cause physical damage but mental damage too.

Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle has many benefits not only for the body but for the mind too. Also, if you follow a healthy lifestyle then you can reduce the risk of having cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.

To sum it up, we can say that there are various benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Also, a healthy lifestyle has many benefits to your social as well as personal life. Besides, it improves the relationships in the family. Most importantly, the person who lives a healthy lifestyle lives longer as compared to those who do not.

FAQs on Healthy Lifestyle

Q.1 Give some tips to live a healthy lifestyle. A.1 Some tips for staying healthy are eating a balanced diet, maintain weight, having enough sleep, sleep early and wake up early, use mobile lesser, etc.

Q.2 What is good health? A.2 Good health means freedom from sickness and diseases. It is a costly gift of nature to us for living a purposeful life. Also, good health means that we can do more work than our capacity without getting tired.

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Living Better

Weight-loss drugs aren't a magic bullet. lifestyle changes are key to lasting health.

Lisa Doggett

Lifestyle medicine includes helping people eat a healthier diet.

The headlines are compelling, with phrases like, " The Obesity Revolution ," and " A new 'miracle' weight-loss drug really works ." The before-and-after pictures are inspiring. People who have struggled for decades to shed pounds are finally finding an effective strategy.

The last few years saw breakthroughs in treatments for obesity, with new weight-loss medicines dominating recent news reports. The medicines, semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro, Zepbound), work by slowing stomach-emptying and decreasing appetite. They're usually administered by weekly injection.

Clinical trials boasted success comparable to surgery. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey shared encouraging personal stories.

The scientific literature behind the headlines is impressive as well. Those taking the medicines lose, on average, 10% to 20% of their body weight. Originally developed for Type 2 diabetes, the drugs are well known to improve control of blood sugar. In December, we also learned that in people with cardiovascular disease who are overweight or obese, semaglutide appears to reduce major adverse cardiac events by 20%.

For primary care doctors like me, who have counseled thousands of patients — often unsuccessfully — about their weight, this news is welcome. For many of those living with obesity, these medicines can feel like a game changer.

Excess body weight is tied to a range of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and many types of cancer. It's linked to shorter life expectancy and higher rates of disability. With about 40% of U.S. adults now classified as obese — and another 30% considered overweight — many doctors and patients are embracing the new drugs as a solution.

Drugs don't address root causes of America's health crisis

Yet even as many may adopt the newest medications, we need to recognize and address their limitations, including a lack of long-term safety data and potential side effects like nausea, vomiting and, rarely, pancreatitis and gallbladder disease. Poison control centers are reporting an increase in calls due to medication overdoses, which can lead to low blood sugar and associated symptoms, like dizziness, irritability and — in severe cases — confusion and coma.

7 habits to live a healthier life, inspired by the world's longest-lived communities

Shots - Health News

7 habits to live a healthier life, inspired by the world's longest-lived communities.

The high price of the weight-loss medicines — usually over $1,000 per month for each patient — is especially troubling in a nation that already far outspends the rest of the world in health care costs and faces major disparities in care. The cost concerns are amplified by studies showing that the drugs usually need to be taken long term to prevent weight regain.

"While these drugs are powerful and wonderful tools, they are not a panacea," said Jonathan Bonnet, a board-certified obesity, lifestyle, family and sports medicine physician who serves as program director of medical weight loss at the Palo Alto VA's Weight Management Center Clinical Resource Hub.

He is seeing positive results among his patients but recognizes cost as a significant barrier. "Treating everyone with obesity in the U.S. with medications will bankrupt the country and still not cultivate the type of health and vitality we actually want," he said.

More than half of employer insurance plans in the United States, as well as Medicare, don't cover the medicines for weight loss.

Medications also fail to address the root causes of the problem. Rates of obesity have increased substantially over the last few decades and have continued to climb since the COVID-19 pandemic. A Gallup survey released in December showed the obesity rate increased by 6 percentage points from 2019 to its current level of 38.4%. The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes — a known consequence of obesity in many individuals — increased from an estimated 10.3% of U.S. adults in the 2001-2004 time period to 13.2% in the 2017-2020 time period.

Our society's easy access to ultraprocessed, calorie-dense foods and our high levels of inactivity contribute to excessive weight gain and related health impacts. A health care system designed for "sick" care — supported by a multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry that stands to benefit when we fall ill — does not prioritize disease prevention.

And while we should embrace a culture of acceptance of all body types, we also can't ignore the fact that rising rates of obesity are part of a growing health crisis.

True health is not just a number on a scale

Enter lifestyle medicine . This burgeoning field focuses on prevention and treatment of chronic disease through adoption of healthy habits including a minimally processed diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains; regular physical activity; restorative sleep; stress management; positive social connection; and avoidance of harmful substances.

Lifestyle medicine practitioners partner with patients to understand their core values and help them achieve goals — whether it's to lose 20 pounds, control high blood pressure or boost mood and energy.

Lifestyle medicine is cheap and low risk. Its proven benefits extend far beyond weight loss and can be lifelong. Those who make positive lifestyle decisions, including exercising, eating well and not smoking, may reduce their incidence of coronary artery disease by over 80% and Type 2 diabetes by more than 90%. They take fewer medications. They live longer and experience improved mental health and lower rates of cancer, chronic disease and disability.

And a diet that emphasizes whole, plant-based foods is also better for our planet, reducing deforestation, air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions related to meat and dairy production.

Lifestyle medicine and the new weight-loss medications are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the package inserts explicitly state these drugs should be prescribed in combination with increased physical activity and a reduced-calorie diet.

Yet the lifestyle piece is usually glossed over. It's not a quick fix; it requires commitment and a reexamination of personal values. It encourages us to cut back on the ultraprocessed foods we like, high in added sugars and salt, that still raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers, even in those who aren't overweight.

According to the American Heart Association, fewer than 1% of U.S. adults and adolescents engage in all practices recommended to achieve ideal cardiovascular health , which include most tenets of lifestyle medicine.

New anti-obesity medicines are an important tool. But true health is not just about a number on the scale. Widespread adoption of the principles of lifestyle medicine would reduce health care costs, reverse recent declines in U.S. life expectancy and transform lives.

To get fresh vegetables to people who need them, one city puts its soda tax to work

To get fresh vegetables to people who need them, one city puts its soda tax to work

Opportunities for change.

Because more than 82% of Americans see a health professional every year, incorporating lifestyle medicine into these visits is an obvious way to reach those who need support. But health care providers are often unprepared to offer the kind of intensive coaching that's required.

A 2017 survey indicated that 90% of cardiologists, for example, reported receiving minimal or no nutrition education during fellowship training.

Medical schools and residency programs need to teach the next generation of doctors to promote healthy behaviors — and to implement those practices in their own lives.

Time is another constraint. In my years working in community clinics, I was routinely expected to see patients in 20-minute increments, leaving almost no opportunity to address lifestyle changes in a meaningful way. I might encourage patients with heart disease to eat more fruits and vegetables, but I didn't have time to understand the underpinnings of their dietary choices, often influenced by a complex combination of culture, finances and personal preferences.

Nor could I refer patients to supportive colleagues, such as dieticians, behavioral health counselors and health coaches — my clinic didn't have them.

Doctors need time for difficult conversations to understand the drivers behind patient choices and what might motivate them to change. They need to be able to partner with other professionals who can offer support and expertise.

But even more important — and more difficult — is the need to adjust cultural norms and public policies to make it easier for individuals to adopt healthy behaviors.

For example, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as food stamps, should be reformed to reduce taxpayer-subsidized consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and ultraprocessed foods. Even small acts, like moving healthy foods to the front of the grocery store, can have an impact.

"Our environments are optimized for unhealthy living." Bonnet said. "Willpower will only get us so far." What we need, he told me, is to design communities that make healthy choices the default, less-expensive option.

Such communities would have more green space and walkable streets, easier access to fresh produce, plant-based entrées in restaurants and increased opportunities for face-to-face social connections. By removing the reliance on willpower and financial resources to live well, we can reduce health disparities and improve quality of life for everyone.

This story comes from Public Health Watch , a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization that focuses on threats to America's well-being.

Lisa Doggett is a columnist for Public Health Watch, a family and lifestyle medicine physician at UT Health Austin's Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center and senior medical director of Sagility. She is the author of a new memoir, Up the Down Escalator: Medicine, Motherhood, and Multiple Sclerosis . The views expressed in her columns do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of Public Health Watch, UT Health or Sagility. Doggett can be reached through her website .

  • lifestyle medicine
  • Weight-loss drugs

The Atlantic diet may be just as good for you as the Mediterranean diet — with even more bread and pasta

  • The Atlantic diet, based on eating habits in Spain and Portugal, may help prevent chronic disease. 
  • It's similar to the Mediterranean diet, but includes more starchy carbs, dairy, and some meat.
  • A study found people on the Atlantic diet had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and less belly fat. 

Insider Today

If you love carbs and want to eat more healthfully, a close neighbor of the Mediterranean diet may be just the thing.

The Atlantic diet, based on traditional eating habits in northern Spain and Portugal, may help prevent chronic illness and promote a healthy metabolism, according to a study published February 7 in JAMA Network Open .

And new research suggests that this carb-heavy, dairy-friendly eating plan may have similar health benefits to the much-praised Mediterranean diet in protecting metabolic health and preventing chronic disease.

What is the Atlantic diet?

The Atlantic diet diet focuses on plenty of longevity-boosting foods like produce, olive oil, beans, seafood, and even some wine. It's similar to the Mediterranean diet , ranked as one of the healthiest ways to eat, emphasizing mostly unprocessed whole foods.

But the Atlantic diet features even more carbs, specifically whole grains and starchy foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes. It recommends six to eight servings of these a day. It also includes cheese and other dairy, along with lean meats, and red meat in moderation.

What are the benefits of the Atlantic diet?

Researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain followed 231 families (including 518 people) from rural Spain over six months, analyzing their metabolic health with measurements like their weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Half the participants were randomly assigned to follow a traditional Atlantic diet, and provided with food, cooking classes, and other resources to do so. The other half were instructed to follow their habitual eating patterns.

By the end of the six months, people on the Atlantic diet were 68% less likely to develop metabolic syndrome , a collection of health issues like risky cholesterol levels, that can increase the odds of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

They also had trimmer waistlines and were less likely to have high levels of belly fat compared to their peers who didn't follow the diet, researchers found.

However, the diet didn't seem to make a difference to specific health measures like blood pressure or blood sugar levels, so more research is needed to understand how it works and who could benefit.

For now, researchers did find that a key factor in the health benefits was participants following the diet as a family. Previous research suggests social support can make it easier to create healthy habits , and maintain them.

And there's good evidence that eating more nutrient-dense whole foods has a wealth of benefits for health and longevity, whether you make more Mediterranean meals, buy into the "Blue Zones" style of eating, or opt for the Atlantic diet.

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A tight close-up shot of several Advil tablets.

How Much Advil Is Too Much?

Ibuprofen can be a blessing for those with aches and pains, but overdoing it poses serious risks.

Credit... Eric Helgas for The New York Times

Supported by

By Melinda Wenner Moyer

  • Feb. 13, 2024

Q: I take Advil pretty regularly for pain, but how can I tell if I’m taking more than is safe?

Headaches. Fevers. Period cramps. Back pain.

These are all symptoms that can be treated with ibuprofen, a drug better known by one of its brand names, Advil.

Given the drug’s broad pain-reducing effects, excellent safety profile and availability over the counter, it’s no surprise that some people pop the little brownish-red tablets whenever they feel the slightest twinge of discomfort.

“It’s my go-to when I have pain,” said Candy Tsourounis, a professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco.

Still, ibuprofen — which is also sold under brand names like Motrin and Nuprin — can pose certain health risks, especially for those with kidney or stomach issues.

Here’s how to feel well and stay safe.

How to Tell If You’re Overdoing It

Scan the label of over-the-counter ibuprofen and you’ll see that adults and children 12 years and older are advised to take one (or two, if needed) 200-milligram tablets, caplets or gel caplets every four to six hours while symptoms persist. And those taking the drug should not exceed 1,200 milligrams (or six pills) in 24 hours.

But because doctors sometimes prescribe ibuprofen in much higher dosages , up to 3,200 milligrams a day, it can be hard to say how much is too much.

This discrepancy is rooted in safety concerns. The Food and Drug Administration sets strict dosage limits for over-the-counter drugs because they may be taken by people with various risk factors, Dr. Tsourounis said. If you’re unlikely to have an adverse reaction, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose.

Even with over-the-counter ibuprofen, doctors will sometimes advise patients to take up to 3,200 milligrams per day for a short period — up to a week or two — because the anti-inflammatory effects are better at higher doses, said Lauren Haggerty, a clinical pharmacist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. This might happen after an injury or a surgery, she said.

If you haven’t consulted a doctor about how much is safe, or if you aren’t certain about your risk factors, it’s best not to exceed the recommended limit of 1,200 milligrams a day, Dr. Tsourounis said.

Since ibuprofen can cause an upset stomach, consider taking it with at least a few bites of food — dairy, or nondairy alternative, products are especially helpful, Dr. Tsourounis said.

Be careful that you don’t accidentally take more than intended. “I have patients who don’t know that Advil and generic ibuprofen are the same, so then they might take both,” said Dr. Sarah Ruff, a physician at UNC Family Medicine in Durham, N.C.

Also keep in mind that ibuprofen is sometimes added to certain cold medications, like Sudafed PE Head Congestion and Pain Relief, so always read the ingredient list on medications before using them.

When to Be Extra Cautious

Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, which reduce pain and inflammation by blocking the activity of certain enzymes, Dr. Tsourounis said. This is why tamping them down often makes you feel better.

But these enzymes also help maintain kidney and liver function and regulate the balance of fluids and electrolytes in your body, Dr. Tsourounis said. So taking ibuprofen can be dangerous for patients with kidney disease or failure; those with liver damage or cirrhosis; and people with conditions that put strain on their kidneys, like high blood pressure or heart failure.

Those at high risk for these conditions — as well as for stomach ulcers, heart attacks, strokes or bleeding problems — should talk with their doctors before taking ibuprofen, Dr. Haggerty said. The same goes if you’re pregnant; ibuprofen is not recommended at or after 20 weeks, according to the F.D.A., since it may in rare cases harm the fetus’s kidneys .

People who take medications such as diuretics, anticoagulants, ACE inhibitors or ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers) to manage cardiovascular issues should also be careful, Dr. Tsourounis said, because ibuprofen stresses the kidneys and the heart.

To reduce these health risks, don’t take the maximum recommended dose for more than a week or two at a time, Dr. Ruff warned. “If you are needing it for more than two weeks, that’s a good sign that you need to go see your doctor.”

When taken for long periods, ibuprofen can also increase the risk of stomach ulcers, Dr. Ruff said. The drug inhibits enzymes that, among other things, aid in the production of mucus that lines and protects the stomach lining — so without these enzymes, the stomach becomes vulnerable to irritation and damage.

And ironically, regular ibuprofen use among people with headache disorders (such as migraines) can cause rebound headaches , for reasons doctors don’t completely understand.

“It’s really frustrating for patients — because if they get into that situation, the only way to make it go away is to wean themselves off all of the pain relievers,” Dr. Ruff said. “And that’s a painful process.”

Ask Well: Answers to Your Health Questions

What’s the Best Way to Clean Your Ears?: Cotton swabs may feel the most satisfying, but there are safer and more effective alternatives .

How Does Alcohol Affect My Microbiome?: As scientists begin to explore how drinking may influence your gut, they’re learning that overdoing it could have some unhappy consequences .

Is Dyeing Your Hair Bad for Health?: Here’s what the research suggests about the link between hair dye and cancer .

How Much Water Do I Need?: Your water needs change as you age . They can also depend on your exercise habits and even where you live.

What Happens to My Body During Dry January?: The physical benefits are likely numerous . But there may be psychological ones, too.

Do you have a question for our health and science editors? Ask us here .



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