Welcome to the DLW framework!

The Do-Live-Well framework describes the link between what people do everyday and their health and well-being. The components of the framework are explained below, please click on each component to learn more.

Dimensions of Experience

1. Activating your body, mind and senses

Activities associated with activation can take many forms, from physical exercise (activating one’s body) to completing crossword puzzles (activating one’s mind) to listening to music (activating one’s senses). Some activities may involve multiple sources of activation, such as taking dance lessons with a partner or walking in nature.

2. Connecting with others

This dimension involves an emotional attachment within a social group. Connecting may take many forms (face-to-face versus virtual) and involve a range of ‘‘others’’ (family, friends, neighbours, coworkers, acquaintances, and even animals).

3. Contributing to community and society

This dimension involves imparting socially valued human capacities or resources (e.g., time, money, information) toward the good of social groups. Examples include paid or volunteer work, parenting, caregiving, and civic engagement (e.g., participation in advocacy initiatives).

4. Taking care of yourself

This dimension involves attending to personal physical, psychosocial, and spiritual needs. Self-care may include a range of activities, such as exercising, eating well, taking vitamins, spending time with loved ones, and taking time to relax and rejuvenate.

5. Building security/prosperity

This dimension captures the broader process of achieving financial and social security. Examples of activities that contribute toward this dimension of experience include engagement in paid employment, planning and managing finances, household management, and investing in stable housing and safe neighbourhoods.

6. Developing and expressing identity

Interests, preferences, values, personal strengths, and other characteristics of identity fuel engagement in preferred activities, which may include sports, and participating in cultural activities.

7. Developing capabilities and potential

This dimension involves developing skills, knowledge, abilities, aptitudes, and capacities. It involves challenging oneself, setting goals, and striving towards one’s potential or ideal self.

8. Experiencing pleasure and joy

This dimension includes activities associated with experiences of enjoyment and contentment.

Health and Wellness Outcomes

Health and Wellness Outcomes

Health and wellness outcomes in this model go beyond simply the absence of illness and disability. The focus is on a broad range of outcomes that include not only physical and mental health, but social, emotional and spiritual well-being. Specific evidence-based outcomes range from reduced risk of chronic disease to increased resilience and life satisfaction. What you do every day can lead to “flourishing” or leading a full and meaningful life.

It is important to note that the outcomes of day-to-day activities are not always positive. As noted in the activity patterns section, there are risks associated with particular experiences or with extreme ends of the activity pattern continuum. Activities such as exercise or even volunteering in the community, for example, can become unhealthy if they are not done in moderation or if they feel “forced” and lack meaning. Health and well-being outcomes may also be multi-layered and change over space and time. For example, participating as part of a gang, or engaging in illicit drug use may have a range of positive and negative short and long-term health and well-being outcomes. Society’s expectations for appropriate behavior can also shape whether they are considered healthy or unhealthy.

Activity Patterns

How do you engage in activity?

It is not only what people do, but how they do it in the context of their lives that can affect health and well-being.  In each of the five aspects of activity engagement, optimal patterns lead to health benefits whereas patterns on either end of the continuum are linked to potential health risks.

1. Engagement:

Being engaged is a process that includes initiating and maintaining participation in daily activities. During times of optimal engagement, individuals may not be aware of time passing, and may feel energized and/or a sense of peace. When not optimally engaged, individuals could either feel bored (one end of the continuum) or overwhelmed (other end of the continuum).

2. Meaning

The meaning of activities is shaped by individual history, values and experiences, thus meaning will be as diverse as the individuals engaging in them.  A ‘simple’ activity such as cooking a meal, for example, could be viewed as a unwelcome chore or as a source of  enjoyment; it could also have symbolic meaning in the context of cultural celebrations. When day-to-day activities are full of meaning, then health and well-being can flourish.  Conversely, the negative impact of a loss of meaningful activity can be significant.

3. Balance

Balance involves finding the ‘right’ amount and the ‘right’ variation in how people use their time.  Optimal balance involves finding a match between what someone wants to do and their actual activity patterns, in a way that meets their instrumental and social needs, and/or feel engaged, challenged and competent. Too much or too little of any activity can be detrimental to health and well-being.

4. Control/Choice

Choice determines the types of activities that the individual will engage in and control involves deciding how they will act on these choices. Choice and a sense of control over what to do and how to do it are key prerequisites to health and well-being. People get a sense of control over their lives and their future by choosing, shaping and orchestrating their daily occupations. Too much choice can be stressful, but on the other end of the continuum; when choice in day-to-day activities is limited or taken away, people may lose their sense of autonomy.

5. Routine

Routines are regular, repetitive, predictable patterns of time use, including habits, rituals and the rhythms of life. They can be a source of stability, familiarity and predictability.  During times of transition in life stages and roles, typical routines may be disrupted. Ideally, routines should be flexible and autonomous.

Forces Affecting Activity Patterns

Personal and social forces may affect participation

There are a range of things that may affect what you do on a day-to-day basis.  For example, personal characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, and health may affect what people want to do, what they are able to do, and what they are expected to do.  A child, for example, may actively seek out experiences that develop their capabilities and potential (one of the eight dimensions of experience).  A new refugee in Canada, on the other hand, may seek out, but struggle to find opportunities to develop his/her capabilities and potential. Onset of a debilitating illness may also significantly disrupt activity patterns and what may be needed to build or re-build capabilities and potential.  Control and choice in activity patterns may be limited by a range of personal characteristics.

There are also many external forces that affect what people do every day.  Institutional forces such as affordability, location and eligibility requirements may affect accessibility.  Lack of transportation, unwelcoming or inaccessible environments and rigid rules for participation may limit what people are able to do.  At a community level, lack of funding for community programs may limit opportunities for meaningful participation.

This part of the framework is important since it moves away from focusing on the individual as solely responsibility for his/her health and well-being.  It highlights the need for recognizing the broader social and political context that affects opportunity and accessibility.