A person’s lifestyle is a combination of their interests, opinions and behavioural orientations. This can include what kind of clothes they wear, how they spend their leisure time and how they entertain themselves, along with other aspects that define their personality and character. It can also affect their attitudes towards politics, religion, health and even intimacy. The definition of a healthy lifestyle is more specific than merely avoiding disease, and includes things like a good diet, exercise and rest.
Throughout the twentieth century, the term “lifestyle” has evolved as it has been adopted by both society and industry. It began as a sociological concept, and was later co-opted by marketing professionals who used it to target certain consumer groups with both advertising and products. By the 1950s, it was a widely accepted term in the general lexicon and became a key factor in the development of the modern consumerism that pervades western societies today.
People can choose to adopt lifestyles that are either healthy or unhealthy, depending on their individual preferences and attitudes. Various factors influence lifestyle, such as the location of one’s home (urban, rural or suburban), the way in which one travels (car, bus, bicycle or foot) and the foods they eat. Other factors can include the entertainment options they prefer, such as movies, music or sports and the activities they engage in. They can also include their views on religion and politics, their approach to securing financial resources and how they dress.
For example, the choice to live a healthy lifestyle can involve eating less junk food, drinking more water and exercising regularly, as well as not smoking or drinking too much alcohol. This kind of lifestyle can save money in the long run as it reduces the need for costly medical treatment and helps maintain a healthy body. It also means that a person is less likely to suffer from heart problems, diabetes and other health conditions in the future.
Earlier studies on lifestyles focused on the analysis of social structure and of individuals’ relative positions within it. Thorstein Veblen introduced the concept, claiming that some classes distinguish themselves from others by conspicuous consumption and that other classes try to emulate them because of a desire to become wealthy and feel superior. Georg Simmel carried on this work, and later Pierre Bourdieu revived the concept with a more complex model in which lifestyles are understood as generating processes of, as well as effects generated by, class differentiation. In the contemporary context, this is illustrated by the fact that people who are self-identified as belonging to a world consumer class or nation have greater differences between their lifestyles than do people in other classes or nations.