Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the state of full physical, emotional and social well-Being and not just the absence of sickness and infirmity.” A number of definitions have also been used over the years for various reasons. However, health is more than just knowing what is healthy for you. It is also about how you view your health, how it affects others around you, and how you can make changes so that you live a long and healthy life.
The first definition of health, then, is being able to experience and respond appropriately to life’s demands without limitation, having good health, and having a sense of fullness. The second definition is, “having an attitude of gratitude for all that we have and the power to make good use of what we have.” The third definition is, “exceeding physical and mental requirements with respect to health.” The fourth definition is, “exceeding the requirements of the body in ways that are appropriate to health.” Finally, the fifth definition is, “exceeding the requirements of the mind in ways that are appropriate to mental health.” The sixth and seventh definitions are: “having the ability to get along with people from different cultures and backgrounds,” and “accepting and being respectful of differences.”
These definitions are broad, but they do offer some guidance about what it means to have good wellness. wellness, for instance, has been defined as “the state of having well-balanced psychological, physical, social, and emotional functioning.” Health is also linked to emotional well-being, and the two are considered to be related. In addition, health refers to “living with the minimal amount of stress” and “being in good physical and mental condition.” This is further described by the Mayo Clinic as “exceeding the age-related risks for mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.”
There are many factors that can affect our health, including our environment and our genetics. Stress and anxiety have been linked to a variety of diseases, such as high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, digestive disorders, obesity, and mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and mood disorders. We can prevent these diseases by adopting a healthy lifestyle, practicing relaxation techniques, and taking a daily multivitamin. We can also limit our exposure to environmental toxins through a safe diet and regular exercise. We can also take steps to reduce our chances of developing illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s by changing our diet and incorporating regular exercise into our lives.
While the above descriptions describe general approaches to “wellness,” not all of them are accurate, especially when it comes to evaluating whether we are healthy or not. A more precise definition would be the following: “a healthy body is the basis for an efficient and productive life.” This third definition is particularly important today, because the environments we live in and the foods we eat can both be a primary cause of disease, and a hindrance to our overall health. It has long been known that physical activity and a balanced diet are essential to good health. However, many of today’s definitions of “being healthy” do not take this into consideration, and instead focus more on defining “being overweight,” or the plethora of other risk factors associated with being overweight.
All definitions of “good health” require some amount of exertion or effort, and therefore, all definitions are necessarily incomplete without them. The important thing is to remember that even the most rigorous definitions are only guidelines, and the best definition is a compromise between the extremes. We all need to maintain a certain amount of flexibility in defining what constitutes “good health.” But the lack of clear-cut guidelines makes any definition particularly vague, and puts an unnecessary burden on those who are diagnosed with a disease, and on the medical community trying to determine and treat them.