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What is healthy?

Recently researchers have defined healthy as the ability of a body to adapt to new threats and infirmities. They base this on the idea that modern science has dramatically increased human awareness of diseases and how they work in the last few decades.

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Mental and physical health are the two most commonly discussed types of health. We also talk about “spiritual health,” “emotional health,” and “financial health,” among others. These have also been linked to lower stress levels and mental and physical wellbeing.

Types of Health

“Mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and financial health all play their part in wellbeing”

Mental and physical health are the two most commonly discussed types of health. We also talk about “spiritual health,” “emotional health,” and “financial health,” among others. These have also been linked to lower stress levels and mental and physical wellbeing.

Physical Health

In a person who experiences physical health, bodily functions are working at peak performance, due not only to a lack of disease, but also to regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate rest. We receive treatment, when necessary, to maintain the balance.

Physical wellbeing involves pursuing a healthful lifestyle to decrease the risk of disease. Maintaining physical fitness, for example, can protect and develop the endurance of a person’s breathing and heart function, muscular strength, flexibility, and body composition.

Physical health and well-being also help reduce the risk of an injury or health issue. Examples include minimising hazards in the workplace,, practicing good hygiene and practicing safe sex or avoiding the use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs.

Mental Health

“Mental health is not only the absence of depression & anxiety but also the ability to enjoy life

Mental health refers to a person’s emotional, social, and psychological wellbeing. Mental health is as important as physical health to a full, active lifestyle.

It is harder to define mental health than physical health, because, in many cases, diagnosis depends on the individual’s perception of their experience.

Mental health is not only the absence of depression, anxiety, or another disorder.

It also depends on the ability to:

  • enjoy life

  • bounce back after difficult experiences

  • achieve balance

  • adapt to adversity

  • feel safe and secure

  • achieve your potential

Physical and mental health are linked. If chronic illness affects a person’s ability to complete their regular tasks, this may lead to depression and stress, for example, due to money problems.

A mental illness such as depression or anorexia nervosa can affect body weight and function. It is important to approach “health” as a whole, rather than its different types.

Factors For Good Health

Health depends on a wide range of factors. A person is born with a range of genes, and in some people, an unusual genetic pattern can lead to a less-than-optimum level of health.

Environmental factors play a role. Sometimes the environment alone is enough to impact health. Other times, an environmental trigger can cause illness in a person who is genetically susceptible.

Access to healthcare plays a role but the the following factors may have a bigger impact on health than this:

  • where a person lives

  • the state of the surrounding environment

  • genetics

  • income

  • education level

  • relationships with friends and family

These can be summarised as:

  • The social and economic environment: Including how wealthy a family or community is

  • The physical environment: Including parasites that exist in an area or pollution levels

  • The person’s characteristics and behaviours: Including the genes that a person is born with and their lifestyle choices

Cultural issues can affect health. The traditions and customs of a society and a family’s response to them can have a positive or negative impact on health. For example, around the Mediterranean, people are more likely to consume higher levels of fruits, vegetables, and olives and to eat as a family, compared with cultures with a high consumption of fast food.

How a person manages stress will affect health. People who smoke, drink or take drugs to forget their problems are likely to have more health problems later than someone who combats stress through a healthy diet and exercise.

Preserving Health

The best way to maintain health is to preserve it through a healthy lifestyle rather than waiting until we are sick to put things right.This state of enhanced well-being is referred to as wellness. Maintaining wellness and optimal health is a lifelong, daily commitment.

Steps that can help us maximise our health include:

  • a balanced, nutritious diet, sourced as naturally and as locally as possible

  • regular exercising

  • learning to manage stress

  • engaging in activities that provide purpose and connection to others

  • maintaining a positive outlook and appreciating what you have

  • defining a value system, and putting it into action

  • screening for diseases that may present a risk

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 get the body and mind into a state that is able to deal with problems as they arise is a step we can all take. The beauty is we have the ability to control our health and well being ourselves. Our health and well-being is our own responsibility and only we can choose to take that control of our health.


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