According to the World Health Organization, “health is a condition of full physical, mental and emotional well-being and not just the absence of illness and infirmity.” A wide variety of definitions have also been used over the years for varying purposes. Today, health is often thought of in relation to individual health, or the quality of health care a person receives. Individual health is the key component to achieving optimal health.
In today’s world of drugs, obesity, and depression, it is easy to see why some would consider this a disease. Illness is considered a serious condition that results from either a virus, disorder, or genetic abnormality. Because of this definition, it is not uncommon for a person to suffer from one type of illness or another for many years without being aware of it. This lack of awareness can lead to serious medical complications and can affect one’s quality of life.
Many people are unaware that physical wellness extends beyond the realm of illness and disease. Physical well being includes proper weight management, regular exercise, consuming a balanced diet, and avoiding dangerous substances such as tobacco use and physical inactivity. People who fall into the general population category of healthy are often viewed as self conscious about their appearance and may seek ways to improve their physical selves.
Good health requires a multidimensional approach. It includes the reduction of all environmental factors that can lead to ill health including stress, alcohol, smoking, physical inactivity, and the use of prescription medications. The goal of physical activity and diet is to create a balance between the mind, body and spirit so that we become more whole and vibrant. Reducing environmental factors that can be linked to ill health will go a long way towards creating a sense of wellness and improving the quality of life for everyone.
To understand the relationship between environment and health, it is necessary to break down the idea of sickness and disease into their various categories. When we speak of a disease, we are typically referring to an ailment or physical condition. However, when we talk of an ailment, we typically include mental and emotional conditions that lead to pain, discomfort or disability. This broad category includes everything from common colds to depressions to heart disease.
When we examine the concept of illness, we come across the presence of various pathogens, which are known as agents of inflammation. These agents facilitate the development of conditions such as fever, rash, and joint pain. We also come across metabolic disorders such as hyperlipidemia and hypertension. Lastly, we find the concept of definition, which refers to the presence of an actual physical ailment such as joint pain. In this broad sense, we can categorize physical well being into three distinct categories: the presence of a disease, the presence of a metabolic disorder, and the absence of any ailment or disorder.