June 3, 2019

Association between health behaviors and factors on markers of healthy psychological and physiological functioning: a daily diary study

J Strahler et al, 2019. Association between health behaviors and factors on markers of healthy psychological and physiological functioning: a daily diary study, Annals of Behavioural Medicine, published online.

Background: Cross-sectional and experimental knowledge highlight the contribution of various health-promoting behaviors, such as physical activity, regular sleep, and healthy nutrition to mental and physical health. Beyond these well-studied lifestyle behaviors, music listening and perceived respect in social interactions are just recently proposed everyday life experiences, which may act as health-promoting factors. Purpose: This study tested the simultaneous contribution of several health-promoting behaviors and factors and examined listening to music and positive social interaction by means of perceived respect as new potentially preventive and health-promoting behaviors and factors using an ambulatory assessment design. Methods: Seventy-seven young healthy adults (38 women, 23.9  ± 4.5  years) completed surveys on their psychological state (i.e., mood, stress, and fatigue) five times a day for four consecutive days. A  saliva sample was collected with each data entry to explore the physiological stress markers salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase, and flow rate as further outcome variables. As predictors, perceived respect, self-reported physical activity, the sleep’s restfulness, daily coffee, alcohol, vegetable/fruit consumption, and music listening behavior were recorded. Results: Overall, restful sleep, mean daily perceived respect, and listening to music were most clearly associated with more positive psychological states, that is, better mood and lower fatigue and perceived stress. Associations with daily alcohol, coffee, and vegetable/ fruit consumption appeared rather minor. While perceived respect scores were associated with lower daily cortisol output, coffee consumption was positively related to daily cortisol and alpha-amylase. Self-reported physical activity was unrelated to either outcome measure. Conclusions: These findings provide important insights regarding potential resources of health (i.e., music and respect), their covariation, and which psychophysiological mechanisms may underlie the links between health factors and well-being. Findings also have implications for the development of interventions aiming to increase resilience and foster health. Here, strategies for improving sleep quality, the use of music, and approaches that emphasize mutual respect and appreciation appear useful additions.

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