Health Promoting Behaviors

Health promoting behaviors, including exercise, accident prevention, cancer prevention, healthy diet, and sleep. Each of these important  behaviors has been related to at least one major cause of illness and death in industrialized countries.


EXERCISE- Health promoting behaviors.

Exercise helps to maintain mental and physical health. At one time, scientists believed that only aerobic exercise has health benefits, but now evidence suggests that  any kind of exercise has benefits, especially for middle-aged and older adults.

Benefits of Exercise

The health benefits of exercise are substantial. A mere 30 minutes of exercise a day can decrease the risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Exercise as one of the factors of health promoting behaviors accelerates wound healing in those with injuries and can be critical to recovery from disabilities, such as hip fracture.

According to American Psychological Association (APA) exercise helps in mood enhancement, flight or fight response, Buffering the brain, etc.

Other health benefits are:

  • Helps you control your weight.
  • Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • It reduces your risk for Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  • Reduces your risk of some cancers.
  • Strengthens your bones and muscles.
  • Decreases resting heart rate and blood pressure and increases strength and efficiency of heart.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Increases HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Improves immune system functioning.
  • Promotes the growth of new neurons in the brain.


Accidents represent one of the major causes of preventable death. Worldwide, nearly 1.3 million people die as a result of road traffic injuries, and the estimated economic cost of accidents is $518 billion per year (World Health Organization, 2009). Bicycle accidents cause more than 800 deaths per year, prompt more than 500,000 emergency room visits, and constitute the major cause of head injury, making helmet use an important issue.

Accidents in the home, such as accidental poisonings and falls, are the most common causes of death and disability among children under age 5. Interventions to reduce home accidents are typically conducted with parents because they have control over the child’s environment. Putting safety catches and gates in the home, placing poisons out of reach, and teaching children safety skills are components of these interventions.

Because older adults are particularly vulnerable to accidents, interventions developed for this group. Dietary and medication intervention to reduce bone loss can affect risk of fracture. Physical activity training involving balance, mobility, and gait training reduces the risk of falls. Teaching older adults to make small changes in their homes that reduce tripping hazards can help, including nonslip bath mats, shower grab bars, hand rails on both sides of stairs, and better lighting.



The recent decrease in breast cancer mortality links in part to better screening through mammograms. For women over age 50 and for at risk women over age 40, national health guidelines recommend a mammogram every year.

Why is screening through mammography so important for older and high-risk women? The reasons are several:

  • One in every eight women in the United States develops breast cancer.
  • The majority of breast cancers detected in women over age 40, and so screening this age group is cost effective.
  • Early detection, as through mammograms, can improve survival rates.

The use of mammograms declines with age, even though the risk of breast cancer increases with age. Fear of radiation, embarrassment over the procedure, anticipated pain, anxiety, fear of cancer and, most importantly, especially among poorer women, concern over costs act as deterrents to getting regular mammograms.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. In recent years, medical guidelines have recommended routine colorectal screening for older adults.

Factors that predict the practice of other health behaviors also predict participation in colorectal cancer screening, including self-efficacy, perceived benefits of the procedure, a physician’s recommendation to participate, social norms favoring participation, and few barriers to taking advantage of a screening program.

Community-based programs that use the mass media, community-based education, interventions through social networks such as churches, health care provider recommendations, and reminder notices promote participation in cancer screening programs and can attract older adults.


Developing and maintaining a healthy diet should be a goal for everyone. The dramatic rise in obesity in the has added urgency to this recommendation.

Diet is an important and controllable risk factor for many of the leading causes of death and contributes substantially to risk for disease. For example, diet is related to serum cholesterol level and to lipid profiles.

Dietary change is critical for people at risk for or already diagnosed with chronic diseases. Such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. These are diseases for which people low in SES (Socioeconomic Status) are more at risk. Diet may explain some of the relation between low SES and these disorders. For example, supermarkets in high SES neighborhoods carry more health-oriented food products than do supermarkets in low-income areas.

Changing Diet

The good news is that changing one’s diet can improve health. For example, a diet high in fiber can protect against obesity and cardiovascular disease by lowering insulin levels.  Whereas, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, peas and beans, poultry, and fish and low in refined grains, potatoes, and red and processed meats lowers the risk of coronary heart disease.

Resistance to Modifying Diet

It is difficult to get people to modify their diet, however, even when they are at high risk for CHD or when their physician recommends it. Reason that people switch to a diet low in cholesterol, fats, calories, and additives and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables is to improve appearance, not to improve health.

Some diets are restrictive, monotonous, expensive, and hard to implement. Drastic changes in shopping, meal planning, cooking methods, and eating habits may be required. In addition, tastes are hard to alter. So-called comfort foods, many of which are high in fat and sugars, help turn off stress hormones, such as cortisol, contributing to an unhealthy diet.


Sleep is a vital health habit, but it is often abused. There are two broad types of sleep: non–rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM).

NREM sleep consists of four stages.- MECHANISM OF SLEEP OR SLEEP MOTIVATION

Stages of Sleep

Stage 1- This is the stage where we are going from a waking stage to a relaxed stage. Stage 1 sleep, which lasts for about 2 minutes, is characterized by relatively rapid, but low voltage brain waves. During this stage, we see rapid flashes of images (This is not dreaming though). It is marked by theta wave.

Stage 2- After Stage 1, we get more relaxed and enter Stage 2 of sleep where breathing and heart rates even out, body temperature drops,. This stage is characterized by slower, more regular pattern of waves. However, there may be sharp pointed waves called ‘sleep spindles’ and large K-complex waves.

Stage 3- Stage 3 sleep is characterized by slower brain waves, with high peaks and low valleys.

Stage 4 – Finally, we enter stage 4 sleep.  It is characterized by a slower and more regular wave pattern (Delta waves). These are the phases most important for restoring energy, strengthening the immune system, and prompting the body to release growth hormone.

Both Stage 3 & 4 last for about 30 minutes each.

During REM sleep, eyes dart back and forth, breathing and heart rates flutter, and we often dream vividly. Beta waves mark this stage of sleep and is important for consolidating memories, solving problems from the previous day, and turning knowledge into long-term memories (Weintraub, 2004). All of these phases of sleep are essential.


An important set of health promoting behaviors that is only beginning to be understood involves relaxation and renewal. The restorative activities that help people savor the positive aspects of life, reduce stress, and restore emotional balance (Pressman et al., 2009). For example, simply not taking a vacation is a risk factor for heart attack among people with heart disease.

Participating in enjoyable leisure time activities, such as hobbies, sports, socializing, or spending time in nature, refers to lower blood pressure, lower cortisol, lower weight, and better physical functioning.

However, participation in leisure activities can improve cognitive functioning among the elderly.


Taylor, Shelley E. (2018). Health Psychology (10th Ed). McGraw Hill Higher Education. Indian Edition

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *