Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the condition of being healthy, free from diseases, injuries, or mal-health.” Different definitions have been used over time for different reasons. In general, however, health means “a clean and healthy body that may be affected by disease.” A clean and healthy body may include a person’s overall health, but especially physical health.
A primary component of a healthy life is exercise and other activities that promote healthy living. Through these activities, the body can maintain its structural integrity and the capacity to resist diseases, including heart disease. The definition of “healthy” is also related to a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities. Activities that make it possible to do so include those that involve moving the body, such as walking and running, as well as those that involve working with one’s muscles, such as exercising the heart.
The difficulty of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is compounded by the fact that people often have very little time to perform other activities. Because of work, school, and family responsibilities, many people find themselves feeling less than fit and physically able to lead a quality life. Illness is also difficult to avoid, particularly in today’s climate of ever-increasing stress and depression. Both of these issues add to people’s feelings of low self-worth, leading them to engage in poor dietary choices and behaviors to try to avoid feeling sick. While diet and physical activity are important to a healthy diet and physical activity, many people do not consider them to be major elements of an overall health strategy.
Wellness, on the other hand, is defined as “a state of overall good health or well-being that involves minimal risk of disease, disability, or death.” By promoting healthy behaviors, well-being encompasses both diet and physical activity. A well-balanced diet includes eating foods that are high in fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients that support health and wellness. Wellness promotes the reduction of stress, which can exacerbate a number of illnesses and diseases, as well as reduce the likelihood of developing unhealthy weight habits such as obesity and smoking. In addition, well-being also includes reducing the use of tobacco products, which are associated with a number of ill effects such as cancer and stroke.
For individuals who suffer from a chronic disease, wellness represents a much different outlook. While it is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine, individuals who have developed some form of chronic disease typically require a more strict and comprehensive approach to achieving a balanced level of health and disease. This definition of wellness is substantially different from the definition of health used for the purposes of statistical analysis.
For example, most health statistics do not differentiate between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Similarly, some disease statistics fail to distinguish between conditions that affect only one part of the body, such as leg cancer or multiple sclerosis, and conditions that affect the entire body, such as cardiac disease or hypertension. These different types of illnesses and their associated definitions often lead to varying degrees of health and illness in different parts of the population. For this reason, when evaluating the needs of patients, doctors often utilize a range of different definitions of wellness and illness in order to create a complete picture of the health of their patients. However, because of the many difficulties inherent in establishing which definition best defines the health of a patient, the debate continues. Because no single definition is correct for all individuals, a multidimensional approach is undoubtedly needed to address the varying needs of today’s society.