Humans begin to acquire a sense of health when they survive childhood and adolescence. Through the course of life a person’s health varies according to what is going on in the body and how that person feels about their health. This is when healthy relationships start to develop, thoughts of self-worth and self-awareness begin to take shape, and a person begins to learn to value and respect their bodies and health. From this point forward, people strive to maintain and cultivate a sense of health, as they age. However, what happens to the definition of health when we mature?
In essence, health can be viewed as a state of being able to cope with present day challenges and the future conditions of an individual while maintaining quality of life standards. This view of health is different than that of determinants such as poverty, hunger, and disease. Determinants like these are considered as socially defined aspects of an individual’s life which would be impossible to change. Health, on the other hand, can be influenced by individual behavior and attitudes towards health, nutrition, the environment, and other related issues.
While there is great debate on whether or not the environment and other external causes of disease have any affect on our health, studies have shown that certain external factors do influence the probability of developing disease. For example, physical inactivity is associated with a greater risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Similarly, a diet that is low in fiber and caloric intake is also associated with greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other physical conditions. These findings provide strong evidence that determinants such as poverty, hunger, and disease are external causes of poor health, which can be changed through individual behavior.
The third definition of “heath” is an umbrella term that includes all of the categories that make up the medical definition of this word. The first two definitions above mentioned show how health can be affected by external causes. The third definition, however, highlights the complexity of the human mind, body, and environment. It further describes the idea that what seems to be a physical disorder can be seen as a behavioral problem.
The Health and Fitness section of the Health and Nutrition Department of the National Institutes of Health defines the field of Health and Fitness as “a field of study that seeks to promote the knowledge of the physical sciences and identify methods and practices that reduce the burden of chronic diseases and improve the quality of life through prevention, assessment, and research”. According to the NIDR definition, there are four stages of Health and Fitness. The first stage is where “some form of Health and Fitness evaluation is done to identify the needs of an individual and establish a priority setting for management”, followed by “prevention, measurement, and evaluation in order to reduce the prevalence and severity of health disorders”, and finally “relevance, diagnosis, and research”.
The fourth and last stage of Health and Fitness is where the focus turns to mental health and well being. The third definition shows how the definition of Health and Fitness has expanded over the years. According to this third definition, “the study of health and fitness” covers a broad spectrum of fields and populations. It can be categorized into three main areas. These include physical, mental, and social wellness.