The term “health” is often used in a way that implies something less than the full condition of an individual. Some people believe that health means being able to sit down without pain for at least an hour. For others, it connotes a state of being free from serious sickness. In truth, health is a state of complete psychological and physical well-being.
According to the World Health Organization, health is “the condition of a person during his life at the time of his survival in the environment in which he finds himself.” A variety of other definitions have also been used over time for various purposes. In the United States, the definition of “well-being” is often used in conjunction with the National Cancer Act. Under this provision, the government encourages citizens to seek medical treatment for various forms of cancer, including breast, cervical, ovarian, rectal, and throat cancer. Similarly, the United States Department of Health and Human Services defines health as “the ability to carry out the activities of daily living”.
The most general definition of “human health” is a healthy body, mind and spirit. According to this broad definition, the pursuit of well-being should be balanced by the maintenance of a healthy physical environment where quality foods and medical care are accessible. This environment should promote active participation by the population in creating policy and cultural changes that reduce health disparities. This definition is inclusive of the condition of those who are mentally ill or emotionally distressed, but it tends to understate the importance of the mental health and its relationship to overall physical health.
The other definition, which is considered the most inclusive of all the definitions, is that of health as a function of life course development. Life course development is a set of events and environments that are associated with a particular set of age-related conditions. These include risks to life, body size and age, health risks during childhood and adolescence, and health risks during adulthood and old age. This definition also includes other processes such as the evolution of immunity and the impact of nutrition on health.
The third definition is that of the average age-related increase in prevalence of diseases. This is the sum of age-related deaths, disability caused by disease, and death from all causes. This definition tends to undervalue the importance of prevention and early detection of diseases that tend to be common in aging adults, especially in poor health. Also, the lack of any universal approach to this definition makes it difficult to apply it to many complex diseases, such as those that involve multiple organ systems.
In recent years, there has been a new interest in the relation between the physical, mental, and emotional health. The goal of these studies is to understand how they interact and how they may influence each other. In the field of public health and medicine, good health is defined as the sum of the three components described above, and is measured using various methods. Some of the factors that have been considered in this framework are physical activity, mental health, and emotional health.