Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is an “uneven condition of the body in its relation with the environment, a state of total health and not just the absence of illness and disease.” A wide variety of definitions have also been applied to health throughout the years. Broadly, health is associated with physical well-being, which may be achieved through bodily activities or through self-care, or through a combination of both.
The definition above applies to a range of concepts that are related to health, including but not limited to: physical well-being, psychological well-being, and social support. In the context of the American Psychological Association (APA), well-being is defined as “the emotional and behavioral state that affects an individual’s ability to carry out certain aspects of life. It is important to note that the emotional well-being is distinct from psychiatric or psychological well-being.” In a broader sense, well-being is the state that one experiences when one has positive resources available to help them cope with problems. This may include support from family and friends as well as medical care.
The definition of health has changed over time as well, incorporating newer theories on how to understand what makes a person healthy and what makes them more prone to disease. One of the emerging theories is the contribution that genetics plays in determining who is at higher risk for common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Other factors, such as tobacco use, contribute to the risks of some common diseases, while other factors do not. In the end, however, good health continues to be determined by a combination of lifestyle choices and the risk factors that constitute a good health status. Individuals who live a healthy life can reduce the health risks that they face, even while maintaining a good quality of life.