Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an overall condition of the body that is achieved through a healthy lifestyle and a proper diet.” Different definitions have been applied to health over the years. In modern usage, the word health means the condition of being able to participate in socially acceptable, mutually productive activity. It also refers to a state of well-being. The practice of daily life, from childhood through the stage of old age, contributes to the process of achieving health.
In order to understand the definition further, we need to be clear on what health is. The dictionary definition of health would be: “the ability to live comfortably, healthfully, and to achieve the maximum” – see the difference? This definition is inclusive of the ability to participate in society, work, and make contributions to society at large. The well-being definition of health would include the ability to have a happy and successful life.
Wellness, on the other hand, would be defined as the absence of disease, disability, or malformation. According to some definitions, a person is healthy when he or she has good health in all physical aspects. Good health could also mean having normal weight, regular body mass, stable blood pressure, and appropriate size and shape for the skeletal system. Healthy people are physically sound and emotionally balanced. They could engage in socially tolerable activity and have normal sleep patterns.
Having good health would not be enough, as one must also attend to basic needs like a good diet, regular exercise, and a balanced lifestyle. For most of us, these definitions of health are barely adequate because we are not physically healthy all the time. Some of us experience major health issues like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. These illnesses call for immediate medical attention and if we do not manage to take care of ourselves, we could end up being hospitalized.
The pursuit of wellness therefore, means not only avoiding illness but achieving general well-being. This can be done by taking steps to control the risk factors that bring about ill-health like high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and excess weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight is also crucial to achieving wellness. However, it is not enough to follow healthy diet and exercise. It is also important to take into account other factors like emotional, spiritual, and mental wellness.
The definition of wellness has become more complex and is now called the concept of total health. It is actually a composite definition of the concepts described above that implies the importance of a healthy physical environment, a peaceful mental environment, and a supportive emotional state. People who live in unhealthy environments and/or with disturbed emotional states are at higher risk of developing diseases and illnesses like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Those who lead a stressful and unhealthy lifestyle are also at a greater risk of developing diseases and illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s.