Definition of Health Behavior

Definition of Health BehaviorHealth Behavior is any activity undertaken by an individual, regardless of actual or perceived health status, for the purpose of promoting, protecting or maintaining health, whether or not such behavior is objectively effective towards that end.

It is possible to argue that almost every behavior or activity by an individual has an impact on health status. In this context it is useful to distinguish between behaviors which are purposefully adopted to promote or protect health (as in the definition above), and those which may be adopted regardless of consequences to health. Health behaviors are distinguished from risk behaviors which are defined separately as behaviors associated with increased susceptibility to a specific cause of ill-health.

Health behaviors and risk behaviors are often related in clusters in a more complex pattern of behaviors referred to as lifestyles.