The Importance of Defining Health

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “complete physical, emotional and social well being” and not simply the absence of illness and infirmity. A number of definitions have been applied to the concept of health, however, most commonly in the clinical setting. In medicine, wellness has a much broader meaning, and includes but is not limited to psychological or mental aspects.


Some common definitions include the following: health is the ability to enjoy life to its fullest; the power to acquire, develop, and develop the capacity to cope with sudden and unpredictable changes in conditions; and self-respect, which refers to an individual’s ability to have healthy relationships. In the field of mental health, the definition of “healthy” differs from one patient to another. Some individuals may view mental health as having little to do with self-esteem, while others view it as having a major impact on how they feel about themselves and their lives. Health in this sense is not solely related to diet and exercise, as these elements are important, but also encompass supportive and helpful people, proper sleep, and a relaxed mind and body. While a healthy definition may seem simplistic, there are several underlying realities that contribute to a healthy definition, and keeping these definitions in mind can help individuals live healthier lives.

A definition of defined health must take into account the plethora of new ways diseases are developing. New viruses are discovered almost every day, and medical professionals are often faced with the challenge of identifying and treating those that have been recently discovered. New infectious agents offer new ways for diseases to spread, and researchers continue to look for new ways to treat and prevent diseases that have yet to be viruses. This fast pace of discovery and new methods of treatment leaves health care professionals dealing with the daily realities of illness and disease. It is the job of health information specialists to keep up with the latest in terms of prevention and treatment.

The definition of good health is a complex one, considering the many nuances of the definition. Good health is an overall state that encompasses all of the aspects of the body’s systems and organs, including but not limited to: digestion, respiration, circulation, immunity, mental health, bodily pain management, and personal well being. A person with a good health definition has no worries about becoming ill or even dying, but can still function adequately and be productive in their daily life. A definition of good health is something that most of us strive for, but few actually achieve.

Because there is no one definition of good health, it is difficult to determine what exactly our personal definitions are. For many, the lack of specific diseases is the key factor in defining health, as absence of specific diseases indicates that a person is neither overweight nor underweight. Because disease and illness can be a result of a multitude of factors and absent some kind of defining characteristic, such as weight, a simple lack of defining characteristic can mean the difference between healthy and unhealthy living.

Another important factor that is often overlooked in the process of defining health is the environmental factors that help or hinder a person’s well-being. While a person’s physical health is often influenced by their genetic makeup as well as their personal eating habits, their mental health is usually affected more by the social and environmental factors surrounding them. In order to achieve a good physical and mental health, an individual must ensure their well-being through a combination of proper diet and regular exercise, as well as avoiding exposure to and avoidance of common sources of stress such as work stress, financial stress, family stress, and school stress.