2.2. Significance and Description of Lifestyle and Personal Health
It is too traditional and outdated to think of health as denoting freedom from diseases. In fact,
such an understanding makes the concept of health very narrow and incomplete. Contrary to
this, the modern conception of the term health implies complex dynamic qualities that allow
satisfying your needs regarding the various dimensions of health. With this conception,
health goes beyond treating diseases that involves an optimal state of well-being.
Health emphasizes the development of the whole person and thus, is multidimensional in
nature. Its components include physical health, mental health, emotional health, social
health and spiritual health. Practically, these components are interrelated with one
another. A poor level of health in one component adversely affects one or more components,
altering the balance so necessary for total health (well being). Attainment and maintenance
of a high level of health requires that each of these components be balanced according to
individual needs and goals.
Health, as a complex and dynamic phenomenon, depends to a great extent on the individual
making responsible and appropriate lifestyle decisions. In its real sense, such decisions
emphasize on making informed choices and taking thoughtful actions that will result in the
prevention of diseases and the promotion of health. It is estimated that over 50% of illnesses
can be prevented or their severity lessened by individuals taking responsibility for their
health and making sound choices based on current medical knowledge. The choices
individuals may often lengthen or shorten their lives and enhance or adversely affect their
quality of life depending on whether their health habits are good or destructive in nature.
Human health, well-being, and survival are ultimately dependent on the integrity of the planet
on which we live. Today, the natural world is under attack from the pressure of the enormous
numbers of people who live on it, and the wide range of their activities. An informed citizen
having a strong commitment to care for the environment is essential to the survival of our
The number of people who view pollution as a pressing personal concern has tripled in the
1990s. Interest in depletion of the ozone layer and global warming; increasing problems with
air, water, and solid waste pollution; deforestation; and destruction of habitat for endangered
species have prompted a national call for environmental protection and pollution prevention.
Lifestyle and personal Health
The world population is increasing at unprecedented numbers. In early 1990s, it was nearly
5.3 billion and 23 babies were born every 5 seconds: that’s 397,440 new people every day,
or 145 million every year. This rate gives the planet an annual net population gain of 93
million people. Population experts believe that unless current birth and death rates change
radically, 10.4 billion people will be competing for the world’s diminishing resources by the
The population explosion is not distributed equally around the world. The United States and
Western Europe have the lowest birth rates. At the same time, these two regions produce
more grain and other foodstuffs than their populations consume. Countries that can least
afford a high birth rate in economic, social, health, and nutritional terms are the ones with the
most rapidly expanding populations.
The vast bulk of population growth in developing countries, like Ethiopia, is occurring in
urban areas. These cities’ populations are doubling every 10 to 15 years, overwhelming their
governments’ attempts to provide clean water, sewage facilities, adequate transportation,
and other basic services. As early as 1964, researcher Ronald Wraith described the Third
World giant city plagued by pollution and shantytowns as, “megalopolis-the city running riot
with no one able to control it.”
As the global population expands, so does the competition for the earth’s resources.
Environmental degradation caused by loss of topsoil, pesticides, toxic residues,
deforestation, global warming, air pollution, acid rain, a rapidly expanding population, and
increasing poverty is exerting heavy pressure on natural resources and the capacity of
natural resources to support human life and world health.
Some people today think of health as the responsibility of doctors, hospitals, clinics,
insurance companies, and the government. They feel that health is someone else’s
responsibility, not their own. If they become sick, they reason that the doctor will prescribe
the right medicine or will send them to the hospital or to a specialist who will provide the
proper remedy. It is important to realize, however, that health cannot be purchased or the
responsibility relegated to some other person or agency. Health is an obligation on the part
of each individual, and it is erroneous to equate more health service with better health.
Instead, individuals must take responsibility for their own health.
Lifestyle and personal Health
The decisions that presence, families and communities make will have an impact on their
health. They are the ones who decide what to eat and when and if to exercise, drink, engage
in drug abuse, smoke, or see a doctor. Thus, the decisions they make will leave their imprint
on their health and well-being.
The challenge of attaining the optimal level of health for ourselves and our loved ones is a
lifetime asset. No one can do the job for us. This is a responsibility each person should
assume to the extent he or she is able, with conviction and diligence.
The HELP philosophy
The HELP philosophy can provide a basis for making healthy lifestyle change. HELP stands
H = Health
E = Everyone
L = Lifetime
P = Personal
1. The H in HELP stands for “health”. One theory that has been extensively tested indicates
that people who believe in the benefits of healthy lifestyles are more likely to engage in
healthy behaviors. The theory also suggests that people who state intentions to put their
beliefs into action are likely to adopt behaviors that lead to health, wellness, and fitness.
2. The E in HELP stands for “everyone”. Accepting the fact that anyone can change a
behavior or lifestyle means that YOU are included. Nevertheless, many adults feel
ineffective in making lifestyle changes. Physical activity is not just for athletes, it is for all
people. Eating well is not just for other people, you can do it too. All people can learn
stress-management techniques. Healthy lifestyles can be made practical by everyone.
3. The L in HELP stands for “lifetime”. Young people sometimes feel immortal because the
harmful effects of unhealthy lifestyles are often not immediate. As we grow older, we
begin to realize that we are not immortal and that unhealthy lifestyles have cumulative
negative effects. Starting early in life to emphasize healthy behaviors results in long-term
health, wellness, and fitness benefits. Healthy lifestyles should be based on Personal
2.5. Physical Activity and Health
2.5.1. Definition of Basic Terms
Words such as exercise, physical activity, moderate physical activity and regular physical
activity seem to be very similar. But in the professional literatures each of them has
distinctive features that possibly differentiate one from the other. Hence it is important to
briefly describe the meaning of such commonly used terms in order to avoid confusion in
¾ Exercise: is a planned or structured physical activity done to improve or maintain
one or more components of physical fitness.
¾ Physical fitness: is a measure of a person’s ability to perform physical activities.
¾ Physical activity: is defined as any form of bodily movement produced by skeletal
muscles that results in an expenditure of energy.
¾ Leisure: time physical activity: is physical activity that is performed during recreation
or any additional time other than the regular job duties.
¾ Moderate intensity physical activity: is any activity that burns 3.5 to 7 calories per
¾ Occupational physical activity: is any activity completed regularly as part of one’s
job. It includes lifting, pushing, carpentry, packing boxes etc.
¾ Regular physical activity: represents any physical activity that is performed 3 or
more days of the week.
¾ Transportation physical activity: is gained while moving from one place to another,
usually covering a reasonable distance. It includes walking, biking or similar
activities used to get to work, school, place of worship, stores etc.
¾ Vigorous intensity physical activity: is any activity that burns more than 7
kcal/min. It may be intense enough to represent a substantial challenge to an
individual and results in a significant increase in heart and breathing rate.
¾ Calorie: is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature 1o
also a measure of energy from food.
¾ Kilocalorie: is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1kg of water
¾ Inactivity: an individual state of not being engaged in any regular pattern of physical
activity beyond daily functioning.
¾ Sedentary: is defined in terms of little or no leisure time physical activity.
2.5.2. Components of physical fitness and their meaning
Your overall physical fitness is composed of five components such as cardiorespiratory
endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
1. Cardiorespiratory endurance- is the ability to sustain vigorous activity that requires
increased oxygen intake for extended periods of time. This component is important in
many situations that demand you to resume working effort for a prolonged period of time.
2. Muscular strength- is the amount of force that your muscles exert to overcome a given
resistance. Good muscle tone, which is the result of adequate muscular strength, is
conducive to an erect bearing posture. For example, strong abdominal muscles help to
prevent protruding abdomen and even lower back problems.
3. Muscular endurance: is the ability to perform repeated muscular movements for a long
period of time without becoming tired. Having good muscular endurance helps you to
continue doing a relatively hard and difficult task over a long period of time without
complete fatigue or exhaustion.
4. Flexibility- is the ability to move freely throughout a full range of motion about a joint or a
series of joints. Flexibility enables you to perform most active sports such as gymnastics.
It is also important for maintaining good posture. Furthermore, it is essential in carrying
on many daily activities and can help to prevent muscle strain and orthopedic problems,
such as backaches.
5. Body compositions – is defined as the percentage of fat tissue and lean tissue in your
body. Your body is made up of two types of tissues, that is, fat tissue and lean tissue.
Lean tissue refers to that part of your body composition, which consists of muscles,
bones, cartilage, connective tissue, nerves, skin, and internal organs.
In order to determine your level of fitness, you should evaluate all the five components
together. You can use the tests and their interpretation stated in the annexes part of this
Lifestyle and personal Health
2.5.4. Basic Considerations to Start Physical Activity
If you have not started doing physical activity yet, consider the following important
precautions for a healthy start:
• To avoid soreness and injury, you should start out physical activity slowly and
gradually build up to the desired amount to give your body time to adult.
• Any one with chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or
obesity should first consult a physician before beginning a new program of
• People with disabilities should first consult a physician before beginning a
program of physical activity to which they are unaccustomed.
• men over age 40 and women over age 50 should consult a physician first
before beginning a new vigorous physical activity program to be sure they do
not have heart disease or other health problems.
• Similarly, if you are a man over 35 years old or a woman over 40 and have
not been active for over six months or have any chronic diseases, you need a
medical check-up before starting any exercise program.
2.5.5. Nutrition and Physical Activity
Good health depends up on many things-heredity, environment, lifestyle, attitude, mental
health, and physical activity in addition to diet. But nutritional knowledge, coupled with good
eating habits based on variety and moderation, are the cornerstones in a foundation of good
Basic Nutrition Principles
Nutrition is the science of the substances that are found in food that are essential for life. A
substance is essential if it must be supplied by the diet. There are six classes of nutrients:
5. Minerals, and
Nutrients are necessary for three major roles:
• Growth repair and maintenance of all tissues.
• Regulation of body processes.
• Providing energy.
Carbohydrates are the body’s most efficient source of energy and should be relied on to fill
that need. For any individual, carbohydrates should account for 55% or more of caloric
Fats are another essential component of the diet. They are the most concentrated source of
energy, providing more than twice the calories per gram when compared to carbohydrates or
proteins. Fat is used as a primary source of energy. A minimal amount of fat is essential for
normal growth and development.
Some dietary fat is needed to make food more flavorful and for sources of the fat-soluble
vitamins. Fat represents approximately 30% of the total caloric intake.
Proteins make up the major structural components of the body. They are needed for growth
maintenance, and repair of all body tissues. In addition, proteins are needed to make
enzymes, many hormones, and antibodies that help fight infection. Protein intake should be
around 12 to 15% of total calories. The body’s need for protein increases during periods of
growth, such as during infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy. Also breast feeding women
have higher needs because proteins are being used to make the protein in their milk.
Although they are required in very small amounts when compared to water, proteins,
carbohydrates, and fats, vitamins perform essential roles primarily as regulators of body
processes. Vitamins are classified in to two groups:
1. The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are dissolved in fats and stored in the body.
2. The water-soluble vitamins (B-vitamins and C) are dissolved in watery solutions and
are not stored.
THE AMOUNT OF CALORIES BURNED IN VARIOUS ACTIVITIES
Activity Energy used
Sleeping 0.9 Kcal/min
Sitting 1.4 kcal/min
Standing 1.7 kcal/min
Slow walk 3.0 kcal/min
House work 3.5 kcal/min
Medium walk 5.0 kcal/min
Gardening 7.0 kcal/min
Dancing- 7.0 kcal/min
Walk hard step up hill walk 8.4 kcal/min
Climbing stairs 10.2 kcal/min
Heavy work 13.3 kcal/min
Climbing stairs with load 16.8 kcal/min
Walking (4-7km/h) 4-7 kcal/min
Jogging (7-9km/h) 7-10 kcal/min
Cycling (12-20km/h) 6-13 kcal/min
Swimming (35-50km/h) 8-14 kcal/min
THE NUMBER OF CALORIES FOUND IN VARIOUS TYPES OF FOOD
Food Energy Value
Bread, one slice 50-80 kcal
Milk, med glass 80-120 kcal
Egg, one 80-100 kcal
Potato, egg sized 60-80 kcal
Carrot, medium 30-50 kcal
Butter, small spoon 100-120 kcal
Orange, medium 50-70 kcal
Cheese, slice 50-70 kcal
Chicken leg 100-120 kcal
Pork chop 250-300 kcal
Roast beef, portion 200-250 kcal
Piece of cake 150-250 kcal
Note 1 kcal = 4.18 KJ