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The Psychology of Lifestyle: Promoting Healthy Behaviour

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 3 - p 631
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cbad72
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The Psychology of Lifestyle: Promoting Healthy Behaviour

ISBN: 978-0-415-41662-7. Copyright: 2009. Edition: 1st. Author: Kathryn Thirlaway, B.Sc., Ph.D. Specialties: Public Health, Community Health. Publisher: Taylor & Francis. Imprint: Routledge. List Price: $39.95.


Improving lifestyles is one of the most effective means of reducing mortality and morbidity in the developed world. However, despite decades of health promotion, there has been no significant difference in lifestyles. Instead, inactivity and obesity continue to rise. This book addresses the role that psychology can play in reversing the trend of deleterious lifestyle choices. It considers the common characteristics of lifestyle behaviors and reflects on how we can inform and improve interventions to promote healthy lifestyles. Health promotion has taught people what a healthy lifestyle is; now we need to enable people to live that life.


To address the role psychology plays in informing and improving interventions to promote healthy lifestyles in six key lifestyle behaviors: eating, physical activity, drinking, smoking, sex, and drug use. Given the contribution of these to general disease burden globally, the specific focus on each provides a much needed contribution to improving general health.


Students and professionals who are committed to health promotion from a variety of health-related backgrounds, as well as health policy developers and analysts looking for a balanced, clear, and concise discussion of the important role that lifestyle plays in health.


The book is nicely structured around two introductory chapters on lifestyle psychology and change theory, followed by six well-referenced chapters on lifestyle behaviors. It concludes with a thoughtful evaluation of the field and next steps for this area of inquiry. Of particular interest is the breadth and depth of coverage of each lifestyle behavior, including intervention development. Each chapter contains interventions that have been developed to influence and promote lifestyle change among patients and clients. An extensive reference list and useful index make for a comprehensive yet manageable introduction to this topic.


This unique book will enable readers to develop a clear theoretical and practical understanding of the psychological principles involved in all aspects of lifestyle change. It is an invaluable resource for students and professionals committed to health promotion within all health-related disciplines. This work is thoughtfully conceived, well written, and well referenced. The illustrations have pedagogical value, and the bibliography is sufficient, current, and pertinent. Attention to both the theoretical basis and the implications for policy development in this area provide a firm foundation for interventionists and policy makers to take action.



Reviewed by:Karen Peters, DrPH (University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health)

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine