Health and Wellness Defined

by Rossano Almonia

Wellness has become the catchword of this young 21st century. It is used to suggest a lifestyle aimed at keeping you healthy and disease-free for a longer period of time. Yet for many the connotation is that it is an alternative form of medicine, something that brings up terms like nontraditional, herbal, natural, spiritual, holistic.

Health has a technical definition according to the World Health Organization. Since 1948, the WHO has defined health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Recently, it has been updated to include "the ability to lead a socially and economically productive life."

So, the WHO recognizes that being physically healthy and free of disease is only a part of the entire picture of health and wellbeing. There is an objective to staying healthy: you must be in a position and condition where you can actually do something productive with your health. This means that your mental, emotional, even spiritual well-being are necessary to staying healthy (and consequently happy).

A landmark study came out of Canada in 1974 called the LaLonde report. It suggested that there are four general determinants of health. These include human biology (your physical state), environment (where you live and the world around you), lifestyle (how you live), and health care services (accessibility to health care).


The term "wellness" was coined by Halbert Dunn, the first biostatistician at the Mayo Clinic who is known as the "father of the Wellness movement." He compiled statistics on aging and the factors that contribute to a long, healthy life and delivered a series of lectures on this in the ’50s. His work served as the groundwork for more recent Wellness gurus such as Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weill and Don Ardell who introduced the concept of "holistic medicine."

Wellness, as Mr. Dunn defined it, is a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. He taught that there were many other factors in one’s life that contribute to being well and getting sick.

Health is maintained through proper nutrition, exercise, genetics, and excluding substances that do more damage than good to the body (such as cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and the like).

Wellness comes about when health is combined with factors that make you happy such as peace of mind, satisfaction in your work and life, emotional and spiritual stability and freedom from fear. When all these work together, you are well.

More recently, wellness has been used in the context of alternative medicine to connote the opposite. In the ’90s, wellness gurus like Mr. Weill made Wellness chic, and he introduced this concept to get Americans and other affluent societies to improve their life styles.

Many of the practices applied in the pursuit of wellness, in fact, are aimed at controlling the side effects of affluence, such as obesity and inactivity.

If you want to have the best of both worlds, then the way to go is to practice wellness. No, you don’t have to go to the gym everyday, or eat only healthy (and possibly tasteless) food or take natural supplements. You only need to eat smart (and not too much) and avoid all the things we were taught are bad for us (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, stress). Get off the couch and exercise regularly or just go for a walk.

Physical exercise is considered important for maintaining physical fitness and strengthening the immune system. Choose work that makes you happy and fulfilled. Avoid stress at home and at work (meaning realign your priorities). And, make time to have fun.

So are health and wellness the same or are they different? Without splitting hairs, one can say that health is a physical condition while wellness is a lifestyle decision. — Vince Gomez /Business World

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About Rossano Almonia Advanced     

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Created on Dec 31st 1969 18:00. Viewed 0 times.


Lee Smith Freshman   
I agree that Health and Wellness can have several definitions. Health refers to the body, mentally and physically speaking. Wellness can be attributed to how well you live your lifestyle.. which could involve a multitude of things. I have been with a company for 5 years that covers a well rounded definition of health and wellness products. This is one avenue that will thrive in today's market place and, for a long time to come.

Nice post!

Nov 30th 2008 00:19   
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