What is Health?

By Anita A. Li (Certified Health Education Specialist), Published: March 13, 2013

When someone says the word health, many topics may come to mind. Some of them may be health care, being free from disease or simply eating your five servings of fruits and vegetables. The word health has gone through many changes over the decades encompassing more and more issues that we may not even immediately think of as health.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Being healthy isn't just about being sickness-free, but the way we live our lives. Physical, mental and social well-being is highly dependent on lifestyle choices such as what we eat, how often we move, and even what we wear. It is also inclusive of environmental factors like the support we receive from our peers and family, sun exposure, car accidents and home safety.

Additional elements of health that are also significant, but are not included in the WHO definition are intellectual, spiritual, cultural, and occupational wellness (Dimensions of Wellness):

  • Intellectual wellness is our ability to think logically and use what we learned to make ourselves happy.
  • Spiritual wellness includes our freedom of expressing religious beliefs, individual beliefs and morals.
  • Cultural Wellness is being able to celebrate and honor the variety of people that exist.
  • Occupational Wellness is our ability to adapt to the different titles we have throughout our lives and fulfilling our roles as child, student, parent, worker, etc.

Health does not just exist in our cells and bodies, but also in how we feel and the choices we make.

Source: WHO, KidsHealth