Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the condition of being able to sustain life throughout the span of human existence and the prevention of death brought about by illness.” Various definitions have also been applied to health throughout the years. One definition, the Harmful Effects of Tobacco on the Public Health Act of tobacco control worldwide, states, “Health implies protection against the adverse effects of tobacco on health, which may include death, illness, accidents, disability.” Other health-related definitions in the WHO’s Consolidated Standards of Reporting Practice relate to human health: “human beings can be regarded as healthy if they are healthy throughout their whole lives; a healthy individual can be regarded as capable of leading an active life if he/she is in good health.”
Healthy humans possess the ability to live an active and healthy life; however, health is rarely equated with life expectancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a typical lifespan is about sixty years for men and fifty years for women. The major cause of death in the United States is mortality from diseases other than cancer. The mortality rate per million is significantly higher in the United States than in most other developed countries. In other words, if one person dies from a disease, another one born would likely live longer than that person.
Health and wellness can be affected through education, attitudes, behaviors, work, and community. Attitudes towards healthy living are influenced by social settings and experiences. For instance, if health and wellness are promoted at a social level, people become aware of the ways in which they can modify their lifestyles to help prevent or lessen the risk of contracting a disease. Similarly, attitudes towards risk factors can be conditioned by exposure to harmful environmental factors such as tobacco smoke, tobacco use, or exposure to drugs. These factors can reduce or increase the individual’s vulnerability to diseases and health disorders.
Healthy habits and behaviors, including weight management, physical activity, a balanced diet, and watching what we eat and drink can also affect wellness. The definition of an optimal state has been described by the World Health Organization as the condition that offers protection against premature death and other diseases or injury. An optimal state can involve the prevention of chronic diseases and can extend the life expectancy of an individual. In addition, a healthy state can help ensure optimal health and the reduction of costs associated with ill-health.
It is important for individuals to identify and take responsibility for their health care. A multidisciplinary team approach is used in health care to target prevention, treatment, and disease management. This approach has led to improvements in the overall health and well-being of Americans. In fact, research has shown that the majority of health problems and illnesses could be better prevented or addressed if they are properly diagnosed and monitored.
The American College of Rheumatology believes that wellness begins at the very beginning of life. Through a multifaceted approach that includes nutrition and exercise, along with self-care practices such as a healthy lifestyle, individuals can address issues related to physical illness and wellness. It also involves lifelong education about diseases and their prevention. If an individual can manage to maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat well, then they are on the road to well-being. Infirmity is inevitable, but with the right resources and well-informed decisions, the path to well-being can be made.