Health-related behavior plays the role of a gate to every person’s health status. On a broader level, health behaviour is understood to be a combination of external and internal behaviour patterns. External behaviour patterns include overt behaviour patterns, habits, and actions which relate either to health improvement/restoration or health maintenance. Hidden healthy behaviour components include personal attributes, namely values, motives, perceptions, expectations, and beliefs, as well as such personality characteristics as emotional and affective states (Gochman in Glanz & Maddock par.6). In a narrower sense, Glanz & Maddock define health-related behaviour as “any action that is related to disease prevention, health maintenance, health improvement, or the restoration of health” (Glanz & Maddock par.10). According to the meta-analytic study by Mohnen, Volker, Flap, & Groenewegen, behaviour that results in health should have (at least) these components: non-smoking, seven or eight hours of sleep, moderate consumption of alcohol, warm meals, regular breakfast, and physical activity (Mohnen, Volker, Flap, & Groenewegen par.12). In this paper, I will analyse my health-related behaviour with reference to several basic criteria (nutrition, sleep, exercise, drug use, disease prevention or avoidance, medical and dental care), assess whether it contributes to health maintenance, and develop recommendations for improvement of existing patterns.
To begin with, my dietary intake has been far from health-related. In particular, I have regularly eaten high-fat foods from McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants, cooked with saturated fats and lacking fibre. Rather than counting calories and controlling my food intake in this way, I chose what looked mouth-watering and often overate (especially, after missing a meal or two). To make matters worse, I drank lots of soda as I consumed hamburgers, pizzas, burritos, and other things in a hasty manner. Since I have been eating out most of the time, I have failed to include lots of fresh fruit in my menu, mostly ordering meat in its varieties. What’s more, I have regularly skipped breakfasts, only drinking a cup of strong coffee in the mornings. Another component of my unhealthy dietary intake has been dark and milk chocolate, which I have eaten on a daily basis, typically 100 gr. Analysis of my dietary intake shows that such diet increases the probability of developing diabetes II mellitus, heart coronary disease, stomach cancer, gallbladder disease, and other chronic conditions that will evolve with the expected increase of body mass.
Further, in terms of sleep, I have had a regular sleep pattern of seven hours on average. On the weekends, I could afford sleeping 8 or 9 hours. At the same time, my sleep pattern has not been consistent, as I have gone to bed at different times every night, sometimes as early as 9 or 10 p.m., and sometimes as late as 2 or 3 a.m. Although in sum I have got enough sleep, I have felt I needed more sleep if I failed to go to bed early in the previous night. Lack of consistency in sleep may be exposing me to some psychological problems such as irritability, depression, or lack of emotional resilience.
Next, in terms of physical activity and exercise, I have scored just as low as in my dietary intake. My lifestyle over the past month was absolutely sedentary. I have spent lots of time studying, playing video games, and surfing the Internet, while I only visited pool twice. Because of my desire to learn everything and thoroughly, I was reluctant to get distracted from learning. That is why I did not go for a walk on foot daily but could spend a whole day licked in my room. This absolute lack of physical activity contributes greatly to my unhealthy behaviour.
In terms of drug use, my score has been highest, perhaps, if to compare with other criteria. To specify, I do not smoke tobacco or marijuana, neither do I consume alcohol. Over the stated period, I have only been a passive smoker a few times, during parties with my friends. If to consider caffeine a sort of drug, then there is a serious issue here, because I have typically consumed 3 cups of coffee daily. Given that caffeinated coffee is associated with multiple negative effects, such as risk of heart attacks, including young adults, early deaths (when one drinks 4 or more cups daily), bone fractures, reduced futility, and over-anxiety, I have constantly exposed myself to all these things. It means that have been slowly undermining my health with the consumption of caffeinated coffee as a way to increase my mental alertness.
I have been quite successful at avoidance and prevention of diseases, as I have engaged in regular self-care. This has included my actions to treat the first symptoms of flu with over-the counter medicines and my taking care of scrapes or cuts when I have happened to get some. At the same time, my regular overeating, consumption of chocolate, and eating at fast-food restaurants have been an obstacle to my prevention of excessive weight. On the contrary, I have increased my body mass and in this way have not succeeded in disease prevention.
As for medical and dental care, I have visited an oculist and a dentist. At the same time, I have failed to seek medical services when I needed help of a healthcare professional. That was when I seemingly damaged shoulder when carrying a heavy bag. Rather than seeking an examination and treatment, I decided to be my own doctor. Although after a week of pain my shoulder almost fully recovered, I jeopardized my health as I ignored the necessity of treatment.
My biggest priorities in changing my health-related behaviour are changing my diet and getting more exercise. Although in the issue of changing my diet an individual consultation from a nutritionist would be the best choice, I can manage this on my own. In particular, I can download an app that will help me make healthy choices in terms of food and calorie intake. This can be Aurora My Path or any similar app that will count calorie intake or advise what to eat in order not to gain weight. I could use this or other similar app to track my physical activity on a daily basis so that I will see if my consumed calories are all wasted. I can increase the number of my visits to the pool and ask my friends to go with me. This will motivate me and increase the chances that I will not skip. Also, I need to quit drinking caffeinated coffee, skipping breakfasts, and going to bed at different time. Hopefully, these measures will help me sustain adequate health-related behaviour and prevent me from any adverse conditions in the future.
- Glanz, Karen & Maddock, Jay. “Behaviour, Health-Related.” Encyclopaedia of Public Health. N.d. Web. March 10, 2016.
- Mohnen, Sigrid, Volker, Beate, Flap, Henke, & Groenewegen, Peter. “Health-related behavior as a mechanism behind the relationship between neighborhood social capital and individual health – a multilevel analysis.” BMC Public Health 12 (2012): 116. Web. March 10, 2016.