Lifestyles and health behaviour. determinants of health-enhancing behaviours. What are health behaviours?. Kasl and Cobb (1966) defined three types of health related behaviours. They suggested that; a health behaviour is a behaviour aimed at preventing disease (e.g. eating a healthy diet);
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determinants of health-enhancing behaviours
About 50% of premature deaths in western countries can be attributed to lifestyle (Hamburg et al., 1982). Smokers, on average, reduce their life expectancy by five years and individuals who lead a sedentary (i.e. none active) lifestyle by two to three years (Bennett and Murphy, 1997).
Those who are physically active throughout the adult life live longer than those who are sedentary. Paffenburger et al (1986) monitored leisure time activity in a cohort of 17000 Harvard graduates dating back to 1916. Using questionnaires it was found that those who were least active after graduation had a 64% increased risk of heart attack compared with their more energetic classmates. Those who expended more than 2000 calories of energy in active leisure activities per week lived, on average, two and a half years longer than those classified as inactive.
About a quarter of the UK population engage in health promoting levels of exercise, with a similar picture in the USA. In recent years these levels have dramatically increased. For example in Wales 20% of men and 2% of women took sufficient exercise in 1985 but by 1990 this had increased to 27% of the population. Those who engage in exercise are more likely to be young, male and well-educated adults, members of higher socio-economic groups, and those who have exercised in the past.
Those least likely to exercise tend to be in the lower socio-economic groups, older individuals, and those whose health is likely to be at risk as a consequence of being overweight and smoking cigarettes (Dishman 1982). Obstacles to exercise include not having enough time, lack of support from family or friends and perceived incapacity due to ageing.