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Relationship between healthy living and happiness

Interaction between happiness and health behavior

Like the so-called “chicken and egg” debate, individual well-being, well-being, health behaviors, and physical health are interrelated.

The benefits of health behaviors such as regular exercise in improving well-being are widely recognized. There is also evidence to suggest that wellbeing improves physical health. Happier people tend to live longer, have better cardiovascular health, and stronger immune systems than less happy people. Happiness alone may not be enough to stay healthy, but if you think you’re healthy, you’re more likely to be physically healthy.

A growing body of evidence is emerging among researchers about the effects of well-being on health. That is, people with a sense of well-being are more likely to be physically active, take preventive actions to reduce risk, and avoid high-risk actions. It is said that there may be Several long-term studies have also shown that people with higher potential well-being are more physically active during their lifetime.

In short, well-being and health behaviors will influence each other. For example, exercise makes you happier, and happy people are more likely to exercise. In more advanced research, researchers studying well-being, or subjective well-being (SWB), found that well-being affects health (both directly and through healthy lifestyles). (Indirect effects) were found to be greater than the degree to which health affected well-being.

Featured Research on Happiness and Healthy Behavior

Kushlev, Drummond, & Diener, in a 2020 paper titled Subjective Wellbeing and Health Behaviors in 2.5 million Americans, found that about 2.5 million people A Gallup survey of American respondents in 2015 describes the relationship between subjective well-being and three components of health behavior (e.g., exercising and not smoking).

Subjective well-being (SWB) consists of cognitive components, life satisfaction, and two emotional components: positive and negative emotions. People with high subjective well-being are more satisfied with their lives, have higher levels of positive emotions, and lower levels of negative emotions.

Happiness and health behavior are positively associated

Their study revealed that both life satisfaction and positive emotions are unique predictors of health behavior. It did so even after controlling for a wide range of variables, including demographics, chronic illness, daily stress and pain, and other relevant factors. The results show that the positive relationship between well-being and health behaviors is robust and generalizable as representative of the US population.

How can subjective well-being be measured?

measured by life satisfaction

Respondents were asked to rate their lives using Cantrell’s Self-Anchoring Ladder. This tool is widely used in national and international happiness surveys and is a well-validated measure of life satisfaction. In this life satisfaction measure, participants imagine a ladder numbered from 0 at the bottom to 10 at the top, with the top rung of the ladder representing their best life and the bottom rung representing their worst life. represents the life of Then ask the participants: Where on the ladder do you personally feel you are currently standing? We used this life satisfaction scale to manipulate the cognitive and evaluative components of subjective well-being.

measure by emotion

Regarding the emotional dimension of subjective well-being, participants were asked to report how they felt and what they did the previous day. Specifically, they were asked whether they spent a lot of time smiling, laughing, and feeling joyful and positive emotions during the day yesterday. In a similar vein, participants also talked about whether they spent more time yesterday feeling negative emotions such as worry, anger, or sadness.

measured by health behavior

Gallup investigated four different behaviors that make up the Health Behaviors Index (HBI). First, participants are asked if they ate a healthy diet throughout the day yesterday. See if you were reporting positive or negative emotions on the same day. Subsequently, two more questions were posed to participants to determine whether their behavior over the past week met current guidelines for healthy eating and physical activity (fruit/vegetable intake, 30 minutes or more of exercise). was evaluated. The fourth item asked participants whether they smoked.

measured by control variables

These included not only general demographic variables, but also various variables regarding the current living situation of the participants. For example, we measured whether there were many hours of stress or physical pain throughout the day. Although stress and pain are not generally conceptualized or measured as components of emotion, they are thought to be predictors of both positive and negative emotions. Also, personal resources (e.g., enough money to buy food, time to do what you want to do) and environmental affordability (e.g., safe places to exercise, affordable fruit, etc.) and being able to buy vegetables) were also measured.

Survey results

Adherence to healthy lifestyle guidelines is most strongly associated with ‘age’ (older people often exhibit healthier behaviors), followed by ‘positive emotions’. Life satisfaction was associated with a healthy lifestyle only for those who were relatively satisfied with their lives. On the other hand, people who are dissatisfied with their lives are irrelevant.

These findings are consistent with research showing that well-being promotes good health, independent of the detrimental effects of poor health.

Surprisingly, we found no evidence that these relationships depended on factors such as demographic characteristics, medical history, or personal resources (such as food costs), among other variables. Combined with growing research evidence that being happy leads to increased participation in healthy behaviors, these findings suggest that well-being people face barriers to healthy lifestyle choices. It suggests that you have positive resources that can deal.

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