The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) offers a simple definition of health as
“a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. —-WHO, 1948.s
In 1986, the WHO further clarified that health is:
“A resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”
This means that health is a resource to support an individual’s function in wider society. A healthful lifestyle provides the means to lead a full life.
Therefore, the best way to maintain a good health is to preserve it through a healthful lifestyle, rather than waiting until we are sick to put things right.
This state of enhanced well-being is referred to as wellness.
The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois IL defines wellness as:
“A state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual’s potential. This is a life-long process of moving towards enhancing your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental well-being.”
Maintaining wellness and optimal health is a lifelong, daily commitment.
What affects health?
There are many broad factors in our lives that influence our health. These factors include:
- Income and Social Status
- Social Support Networks
- Education and Literacy
- Employment/Working Conditions
- Social Environments
- Physical Environments
- Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills
- Healthy Child Development
- Biology and Genetic Endowment
- Health Services
These factors are known as the determinants of health. It is the inter-relatedness and changes in these determinants that make the health of individuals or groups a complex combination of factors.
The following are Steps that can help us maximize our health:
- A balanced, nutritious diet, sourced as naturally as possible
- Go for regular checkup
- Regular exercising
- Learn to manage stress
- maintaining a positive outlook and appreciating what you have
- Defining a value system, and putting it into action
Peak health will be different for each person, and how you achieve wellness may be different from how someone else does.
It may not be possible to avoid disease completely, but doing as much as we can to develop resilience and prepare the body and mind to deal with problems as they arise is a step we can all take.