Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a condition of full physical, mental and social health with no restrictions of an individual’s ability to earn a living”. A number of definitions have also been applied to health in different contexts. In general, however, health refers to a condition of the body and mind that permits an individual to cope with his environment and other individuals. Individuals who are healthy generally have a sense of well-being; they do not suffer from diseases, disabilities, or maladies (if they do not exist). Health is a state of being clean, complete, balanced, and happy with whom one is.
The most accurate definition of health is a balance of disability and health. It does not, however, imply that a person should remain healthy and free from disability. The word disability has many interpretations, and it may be difficult for individuals to understand whether their health means something more than merely being able to function normally within society. Some definitions of health, like the United States Department of Health and Human Services definition of the term, require that a person be capable of doing things on a daily basis. Others, like that of the Canadian Diagnosis and Classification Society definition, require an impaired ability to do even basic activities.
The more inclusive definition of health that most professionals use, in conjunction with the United States Department of Health and Human Services definition, suggests a balance between disability and health. Individuals with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, alcohol or drug abuse, or those experiencing poverty, are often unable to participate in the communities that they would otherwise be in, and are thus removed from participation in public health and disability initiatives. When a person is unable to participate in a regular health promotion program, he is considered unable to participate in the public health initiative(s) that he would otherwise be able to. When he is able to participate, he is said to have “well-being.”
People with diseases, like those that include cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, and multiple sclerosis, usually cannot be classified as healthy. However, when they attempt to participate in any health promotion program, their condition is taken into account and a better definition of wellness is formulated. That is, when these people are able to engage in a health-related endeavor, they usually will not only experience an enriched experience, but they will also likely be more likely to remain that way. This state of complete wellness is a state of healthiness that is inclusive of a healthy body, mind, and spirit. A healthy body, mind and spirit is something that is hard to achieve, but achievable by those who are willing to work toward a well-balanced life.
When someone can say that they are healthy, this does not mean that they are free from disease. Rather, healthy means that the person is free from the impact of disease that most definitions of health include. By this definition, disease can be defined as any event or occurrence that negatively impacts the health of the individual. While there may be many negative consequences of disease, there can also be positive consequences as well, and managing disease is a process that involves positive outcomes.
This definition of wellness was created by Robert Persig, MD, and is used frequently in the medical community as a reference point for evaluating and determining the physiological, psychological, and social elements of an individual’s health. It is important to keep in mind that the definition of “tune-up” has become more than just a catchall description for good health. This definition includes a description of a number of different processes that occur during the normal process of aging and that help to maintain health. Managing disease is an important part of the definition of “tune-up” as well as being free from the negative effects of disease. People who are healthy, but have experienced trauma or a tragic event, can work with their physicians and therapists to improve the quality of their lives and to reduce the likelihood that they will experience negative consequences as they age.