Healthy Body, Healthy Mind – The Differences Between the Two Aspects of Well-Being


Healthy Body, Healthy Mind – The Differences Between the Two Aspects of Well-Being


Many people equate the definition of health with life. Healthy means “well” or “honest”; healthy relationships means “conditions favorable to health and growth.” The connotation of health is usually linked to a person’s ability to enjoy living a long, happy and healthy life. As a general rule, we think of good health when we see someone smiling and healthy, well rested and well fed.


The process of defining health varies among individuals, as does the use of different determinants in measuring health. For example, some health services are affected by population health rather than individual behavior. There are also determinants such as insurance costs or quality of care. These determinants are often considered when determining the level of services provided to an individual. In addition, some public policies concern health and its prevention or treatment, while others only consider the factors that affect health.


Most definitions of health have been developed over time, most likely through changes in cultural norms. One way to develop a broad definition is to include a combination of individual behavior and social factors. It is important, however, to remember that “the results of individual behavior” and “social factors” are not necessarily the same thing. Individual behavior is influenced by external events and circumstances, and these may change over time and with individual circumstances. For instance, it would be impossible to draw a universal distinction between emotional health and mental health, as people’s emotional and mental states can change dramatically over time without notice.


However, a few sociological determinants have a consistent finding among cross-cultural studies, both in humans and in animals: overall health, which includes physiological health, psychological health, and social conditions (i.e., poverty), is related to a person’s individual behavior. Individual behaviors can result in healthy or unhealthy outcomes, and some behaviors promote particular health risks or lack of health benefits. For example, people who smoke, eat too much, get too little exercise, and/or engage in unhealthy behaviors (e.g., drinking alcohol) are at greater risk for many health conditions and illnesses than individuals who don’t exhibit these behaviors. By the same token, being overweight or underweight has a strong relationship to both individual behavior and individual health status. Some people are naturally genetically predisposed to poor health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes; however, other factors, such as poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy practices (e.g., smoking), can contribute to these problems. Similarly, some people are genetically predisposed to high levels of stress, which can lead to depression and other emotional disorders.


Health issues are a concern for a large proportion of the world’s population. Because the definition of “public health” varies from country to country, most nations use a similar broad approach to defining health. Some nations view health as a process, whereby public health is an ongoing endeavour to prevent illness and promote health. Health promotion is a large part of this strategy. In other countries, health promotion is seen as an end-run around traditional medical care. In other words, public health is not concerned with preventing illness but trying to control or reduce the impact of any identified health issues so that the general population remains healthy.


This broader focus makes a lot of sense in terms of defining what it means to have “healthy” or “well”. A person who is healthy will usually be physically active and well nourished; they will not suffer from serious diseases or disabilities, and they will be happy with their life. A person who is unhealthy will usually be inactive, suffering from chronic conditions, disability, or chronic illness; they will be mentally unhealthy, socially inactive, or financially unhealthy. In short, the definition of “healthy” includes traits related to longevity – people who remain active and healthy for years, and who are mentally and physically healthy. This definition excludes individuals who smoke, drink excessively, eat too much junk food, are overweight or underweight, and have unhealthy behaviours associated with alcohol and drug use, smoking, or use of other tobacco products.


An additional distinction made in this broader meaning of healthy is that age plays a role. An adult approaching middle age may fall into this category, as might someone nearing retirement age. For those nearing middle age, being active and healthy in other ways is a bit of a stretch, whereas the active lifestyle and lifelong education of someone in their fifties or beyond is more in keeping with the definition. For older adults, however, being healthy in all areas of life is usually considered to be very important – it may mean maintaining a healthy relationship with friends and family, avoiding risky behaviour associated with addiction, and pursuing a goal such as being a very physically active older adult.


Public health and disease prevention work is best done when efforts focus on promoting well-being as opposed to preventing or treating disease. Although some diseases affect all populations, there are some illnesses that only affect a selected group of individuals, such as the very young or the elderly. It’s important that efforts to promote healthy behaviours and lifestyles are made for all types of people, but especially those at risk of developing disease and other undesirable outcomes.


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