What is Healthy Living? - How to Achieve Healthy Living (the Role of Health Educator)


What is Healthy Living? - How to Achieve Healthy Living (the Role of Health Educator)


In this article, we are going to examine healthy living so we will teach people and community what they have to learn so as to stay healthy. We are going to examine what healthy living is, and also the role of the health educator in promoting healthy living.

By the end of this article, you will be able to:

· Discuss the role of health educator in promoting healthy living.

· Explain what healthy living means

· Healthy Lifestyle Benefits

· Opposite of A Healthy Lifestyle

· Healthy Lifestyle Choices

· Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

· Building Healthy Lifestyle Habits

· Healthy Lifestyle Tips


What is Healthy Living?

At a population level, healthy living is practices of population groups that are in line with supporting, improving, maintaining and/or enhancing health. On individual basis, healthy living is the indulgence in health-enhancing behaviors, or simply put, living healthy.

It implies the physical, mental and spiritual ability to create healthy choices (Public Health Agency Canada (PHAC), 2013).

Living healthy is to assist people to assume the responsibility and observe choices to help their health in the area of diet, their environment, adopting a healthy lifestyle has become a serious concern in modern-day Nigeria.

Environments (physical, sociocultural, economic, and political) are identified by recent findings as a vital consideration in promoting healthy lifestyles. Many folks don’t consider their living environment as a part of their overall health and wellness plan.

The living environment can have an enormous impact on long-term health. Staying healthy requires a holistic approach; not only eating well or exercising but by also taking into consideration the environmental impacts on health. It’s also good to understand that healthy home has a great impact on individual’s health.


How to Achieve Healthy Living: The Role of Health Educator

The Health Educator is to give adequate information to high school children and people within the communities on the most things needed to be healthy in their environment and develop a healthy lifestyle.

The Health Educator is to coach people on the way to optimize and create living environments that are balanced, comfortable, and healthier. The Health Educator is to give counseling and advocacy strategies that promote physical activity (PA) and reduce sedentary time in children, adolescents and their families.

Three main areas of information on healthy living to attain their roles are:

· Diet

· Physical activity (exercise)

· Healthy environment

· Mental health.

1. Diet: Diet is among the key concerns to market healthy living. This is often to concentrate on foods with low fat, high fibres, also encouraging reduced tobacco, coffee and alcohol intake, and increased intake of natural foods, fruits and vegetable.

There’s a desire to balance caloric intake with physical activity to avoid excessive weight gain throughout the life cycle. The aim of eating good diet is to be healthy, achieve and maintain a good health status at every stage in life

2. Physical activity (exercise): Health educators should give advice on the requirement for physical activity (PA). PA choices should be integrated into daily activities in ways, which make them enjoyable, easy, natural and desirable. Parents must be included as agents of change for young children.

Physical activity (PA): is said to be any type of body movement that works muscles increasing resting energy.

Exercise: could be a planned, structured and repetitive PA to work out any part of the body.

It is important to still lay emphasis on PA in schools and houses because outdoor education programmes can increase youth self-esteem, the motivation to be articulate, conflict resolution and problem-solving skills.

Ten minutes of moderate-to-high impact activities (such as running and jumping) performed two to a few days/week can have a modest positive effect on bone mineral density. Team sports can build new skills, raise self-confidence and cause new friendships.

It’s usually advised that:

· Children and adolescents: participate in a minimum of an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day for a minimum of 5 days per week.

· Adults: engage in a minimum of half-hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity, above usual activities, on 5 or more days of the week.

The WHO recommends a healthy school-community model for older children, where PA is promoted in multiple settings. Research demonstrates that a multifaceted school-based programme that addresses PA, sedentary time and nutrition are very good, once they are implemented in multiple settings and have parental support.

Read: 7 Basic Roles and Responsibilities of a Health Educator

Healthy Lifestyle Benefits

Scientists have long been conducting studies focused on the effects of lifestyle on health and well being. A large meta-analysis that included the health outcome data of over 500,000 individuals concluded that adherence to a healthy life style was linked to lower mortality risk (Loef and Walach, 2012).

A more recent study tracked the health habits and outcomes of over 120,000 participants for three decades. Individuals that met the researcher’s healthy lifestyle criteria were far less likely to die prematurely because of cardiovascular disease or cancer (Li et al., 2018).

But how much lower is the risk of premature deaths when people live healthy lifestyles? According to this study, women with healthy habits lived an average of fourteen years longer than their counterparts with unhealthy lifestyles (Li et al., 2018).

In contrast, men with healthy lifestyles lived approximately twelve additional years (Li et al., 2018). Of course, a longer lifespan isn’t the only benefit of a healthy lifestyle.

A study with over 3,000 men and women between age’s 55and 85has shown that individuals with healthy lifestyles performed better than their counterparts in all measures (Visser et al., 2018).

For instance, the individuals in the healthy lifestyle group were faster in physical agility tests and less likely to display symptoms of depression (Visser et al., 2018). They also had slower declines in cognitive function and social interactions (Visser et al., 2018).

In short, living a healthy lifestyle can help us feel healthier and be less likely to be depressed.

Moreover, we might live an additional decade by adopting health-promoting habits.


Opposite of A Healthy Lifestyle

· Binge-eating or overeating

· Anorexia or other unhealthy caloric restrictions

· Consuming processed foods and beverages

· Heavy drinking

· Smoking

· Using drugs

· Gambling

· Poor hygiene

· Skipping routine medical and dental checkups.

You might have noticed that this list doesn't contain every unhealthy choice. Moreover, several other practices sneak into our routines by appearing healthy (i.e., fad diets and juice cleanses). Nevertheless, these behaviors may end up damaging our well-being in the long run.

Although the unhealthy effects of the behaviors on this list and elsewhere are apparent to most, many people find it hard to disengage their lifestyles from one or more of them.

Generally, the reason for our inability to quit unhealthy behaviors is trifold; these behaviors feel good, are easily accessible or more effortless than their healthier counterparts, and have become habits in the past.


Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Now that we discussed the behaviors associated with unhealthy lifestyles, you might be wondering about healthy choices.

As mentioned earlier, specific healthy lifestyle choices will differ for each individual depending on where they live and other factors, such as socioeconomic status. Yet, most healthy lifestyle options have overarching characteristics.

Here are some of the shared features of healthy lifestyles.

· Eating whole foods instead of processed foods

· Being mindful about food portions

· Avoiding substances of abuse

· Being physically active

· Getting adequate sleep

· Good hygiene habits

· Practicing safe sex

· Prioritizing medical and mental care needs

Choosing options that fit one or more of these criteria may be easier said than done, at least initially. Suppose a person spends most of her day in the office, sitting in front of a computer.

Then she rushes to pick up her children from school and drives them to their activities. Moreover, having very little time to cook, she picks dinner at a drive-thru most weekday nights.

After dinner, she watches a few hours of TV and falls asleep on the couch without even brushing her teeth.

Changes are, this person might feel quite guilty about her lack of physical activity, food choices, and evening habits. But with so many aspects of her lifestyle being less than ideal, she might feel overwhelmed by the thought of changing them. 

So let’s learn how to make healthy lifestyle changes without getting demoralized.


Read: 21 Top Functions of Health Educations (What Trained Health Educators Do)

Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes starts with a step-by-step plan.

In other words, before you start doing many things differently at once, you might want to assess what parts of your lifestyle you’d like to improve and how you might be able to improve them.

Then, you can determine which changes you’d like to make first and how much time you might need to turn that change into a habit.

Therefore, the key to making healthy lifestyle changes is to start small and make only one realistic change at a time. Taking small steps might appear slow and ineffective during moments when you feel self-motivated to quit all harmful habits cold turkey, and you might be tempted to drastically change every aspect of your life.

After all, you may want to live a healthier life as soon as you can and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle sooner than later.

Nonetheless, many people become frustrated when they try to change too much in a brief span and cause themselves unnecessary stress. Taking small steps ensures that more of the progress you make is successful before moving on to the next.

In addition, small and carefully planned steps also allow you to try alternatives if the change.


Building Healthy Lifestyle Habits

The goal of making healthy lifestyle changes is to build healthy habits. Yet, transforming a change into a solid habit is a challenge in and of itself. But how can we make lifestyle changes that will stand the test of time? One thing you might want to keep in mind is that, besides careful planning, changes in your lifestyle will need a long-term commitment.

You might have observed a friend or a loved one resolve to lose weight. They might have gone on a restrictive diet and spent many hours at the gym.

Yet, soon after reaching their weight target, they might have returned to their old eating habits and put away their gym bag in the far corner of their closet, slowly gaining all the weight they had shed. Outcomes like this are associated with a lack of commitment to behavioral changes.

The secret to building healthy habits that last is to choose sustainable behaviors that you can stick to.

Choose healthy habits that you enjoy

So how do we know if a behavior is sustainable? The sustainability of a behavior depends on how much time and effort it requires and whether we are willing to commit to it day after day. Thus, habits that require the least time and effort might be easier to incorporate into our daily lives.

Yet, there is another secret ingredient to make habits stick: likability.

As discussed earlier, many people find detrimental behaviors hard to shed because they feel good. It becomes even more challenging if we attempt to replace them with habits that we don’t enjoy at all. Therefore, if we want our habits to last a long time, we might pick those we like and enjoy doing.


Examples of healthy habits

For instance, at this stage of my career, I spend most of my day sitting on my office chair. Hence, about five years ago, I decided to increase my physical activity level. 

Some of my close friends regularly work out at a gym, and I followed suit.

Unfortunately, I felt awkward every time I stepped into the weight room and tried to figure out how to use any of the machines.

Similarly, running on a treadmill made my legs feel like noodles and left my head spinning every time I stepped down.

Using an elliptical or riding a stationary bike wasn’t exciting, either. 

So, I decided to try something I’d enjoy. Remembering that I used to love hiking while in college, I started walking on nearby trails. Soon afterward, I adopted my dog from a shelter, and the two of us have been walking or running three to four miles most days for the past four years, rain or shine.

What transformed my walks into a lifestyle habit? Enjoying fresh air and the company of my canine friend.

Read: Definitions, Aims, Objectives, Importance, Purpose of Health Education


Social support and healthy habits

Speaking of the company of friends, another factor that may help lifestyle changes stick is the support from others. If you have family and friends who encourage you to take healthy steps and cheer you on your journey, you may find it easier to commit to those changes.

If you don’t have a support system, no worries. You might be able to find support groups or organizations where you live or online and interact with others doing similar changes.

Moreover, you might also use apps to help you set goals, send you reminders, and display daily affirmations.

Sometimes, when we think about healthy lifestyles, we think of strenuous exercises and constant dieting. This way of thinking is neither valid nor encouraging.

First, it ignores the essential quality of healthy lifestyles: the lack of unhealthy habits such as alcohol or drug abuse. Second, although a healthy lifestyle involves physical activity and healthy eating, these behaviors should feel pleasurable instead of painful or restrictive.

We will discuss exercise and dieting below, but before we get there, here is a video that touches upon this topic.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

The first key to a healthy lifestyle is avoiding harmful activities. But how can we avoid harmful activities? The easiest option is making them harder.

For instance, if you eat a bag of chips every day, you might stop buying chips and stock your kitchen with healthier options instead.

The second key to a healthy lifestyle is doing healthy things you enjoy.

It is easier to turn a healthy activity into a lifelong habit if you enjoy doing it.

Naturally, our tastes change over time, and something you like doing now may not be as pleasurable when you get older.

Hence, you might want to try different activities once in a while and incorporate new habits if they suit your needs and give you joy.

The last key is to take care of your general well-being. 

This not only includes attending your routine medical and dental checkups but also having good hygiene to keep your body healthy and getting enough sleep to recharge your body and mind.

Using these three keys may allow you to unlock a healthy and happy lifestyle for good.

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