What is the Definition of Health?

Question of the Day

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “health is a state of full mental and physical well-being with no limitations.” Various other definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. Some refer to it as the absence of physical illness or disability, others as indeterminate, and still others define it as a state that is neither good nor bad, man’s best friend. The dictionary usually comes up with words such as poor health, inferior health, debilitated health, weak health, and unhealthy condition.

As far as definitions go, the dictionary would say that “health” is a “condition of the body which causes minimal impairment in the functions of the body.” That definition does not tell us much, however. Other descriptions give us more information. They indicate what is not included within the definition.

For example, when people talk about health, they talk about being healthy, sound, well or having a good body. Those who are considered physically sound are those who have a stable weight for their height, have no history of heart problems or stroke, and do not smoke. People with sound bodies are those who have had minimal exposure to harmful environmental factors such as radiation, pesticides, lead, or tobacco smoke. People with good health have strong bones, no history of digestive disorders, and are not overweight.

Those definitions above offer some hints as to what is the definition of health. But there are many more issues to consider. A good definition of health would not just be the absence of diseases or disability. It would include the quality of life that people get from living that definition. That is, how healthy does a society want to be and what measures can we take to achieve that desired standard?

The definition of health has changed over the years. What was once thought to be physical beauty is now viewed differently. The definition of what is the definition of health would depend on the perspective of the person asking the question. Many people would consider perfect health to be a high level of education, a low-fat diet, regular exercise, and a life free from major medical issues.

Others would view this standard as resembling sleep deprivation, a history of heart disease, and a low score on standardized tests of mental ability and physical fitness. Each of us will have different experiences living our lives. Health is a very relative concept. What is the definition of health for me may not be the definition of health for you. What is important is that we all understand our bodies and what affects them. Taking care of our body is one of the most important things that we can do for ourselves and those who live with us.

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