In 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO) definedTrusted Source health with a phrase that is still used today.
“health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” WHO, 1948.
In 1986, the WHO further clarifiedTrusted Source 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.
More recently, researchers have definedTrusted Source health 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
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.
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 minimizing hazards in the workplace, practicing safe sex, practicing good hygiene, or avoiding the use of tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs.
It is harder to define mental health than physical health, because, in many cases, diagnosis depends on the individual’s perception of their experience. With improvements in testing, however, some signs of some types of mental illness are now becoming “visible” in CT scans and genetic testing.
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