What’s the key to a healthy lifestyle?
According to University of Melbourne economists, it may be a “can do” attitude. Science Daily recently reviewed information compiled by the economists. The data looked at the diet, exercise and personality of 7000 people. The economists noted that those who believed that their lives could be changed by their own innate actions ate healthier foods, exercised with greater frequency, smoked less, and avoided binge drinking. This internal sense of “can do” in subjects was compared to individuals who had greater faith in luck or fate, and these subjects were found to be more likely to live a less healthy life.
So personality type and general outlook can correlate to a healthier lifestyle. The hope is that this finding can be applied to public health issues like the obesity crisis. To date, public policies on obesity have mostly looked to provide more education or to directly control public behavior. This study suggests that understanding underlying psychological factors may also be crucial to conquering a lifestyle-related health condition like obesity.
The researchers also observed that there was a gender difference in the expectation or payoff from the healthy lifestyle behavior. Men wanted clear physical results from the commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Women were receptive to the “everyday enjoyment” experienced from living a healthier lifestyle. That means public policies addressing obesity may have to be gender-specific as well.