Health is multi-faceted. Its broad scope of coverage defines a specific segment of its diverse yet significant totality. However, its interconnectedness as one concept that implies wellness, vigor, and well-being will never be contested. In general, health is interdisciplinary. The definition of health varies to a given point of discussion and line of knowledge or interests. As Larson (1991) deemed, defining health in its best possible way is problematic. He reiterated that its definition is interdependent upon the “historical period of time and the culture in which it is defined” (1).
Generally, health, including other related terms like wellness, disease and illness, are terminologies that are often used without the thought of knowing their precise meaning. Several authors have given their own definition and understanding regarding these terms (1998; 1996). Conventionally, people define health as simple as the state of being free from diseases, when in reality diseases and health are not mere opposites ( 1996; 1988; 1981).
In the United States, a variety of policies were implemented by the federal government in support to the promotion and welfare of health of its people. Globally, health promotion seeks further reinforcement and gets more attention by the authorities. Today, people realize the more relative importance of health than before. Particularly, Americans expect their health to be not merely adequate, but good, if not excellent (Larson, 1991). (2000) believe that Americans are in “critical juncture” of promoting health considering the present living conditions. They presented developed methods in identifying the most effective strategies for improving the health-related quality of life.
Definition of Health
Literatures on health related publications present a wide array of definition for health. In McDowell and Newell (1987), definition of health in the U.S. had undergone changes as an effect of rising expectations. It evolved from “survival”, “freedom of disease”, the ability to perform daily tasks, sense of happiness and with the total inclusion of well-being. Basically, the simplest meaning of health could be seen in the dictionary as “overall condition of an organism at a given time”, “soundness (esp. of body or mind)”, “freedom from disease or abnormality”, and “condition of optimal well-being” (American Heritage Publishing Company, 2000).
Most scholars agree that “health is a multidimensional concept which encompasses not only the absence of disease and disability but also the ability to carry out normal tasks and activities and to maintain an overall sense of well-being” (Hadley, 1982). The definitions accounted to authors, researchers, and medical experts such as Parson (1958), (1967), Callahan (1973), (1977), (1981), Ware et al. (1981), (1983), and Daniels (1985) are accounted, honored and considered valid.
Further, with the different areas covered by health, Abanobi (1986) suggested five general approaches to defining health: (1) the medical model, (2) the holistic model, (3) the wellness model, (4) the environmental model, and (5) the eclectic model. The medical model is based upon the perspective of illness, disease, and proper functioning. The holistic model encompasses the whole person, including physical, mental, and social health. The wellness model is concerned with “better than normal” states, as well as subjective feelings of health. The environmental model describes optimal interaction with the environment, and the eclectic model includes the unusual definitions of health. Each of these definitions is important and directly affects how health is measured.
The World Health Organization maintains its classical definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1946). While there are a number of other definitions of health, it is probable that this definition has undergone much controversy and criticism. It has been commonly described as profound or meaningless; masterful and dysfunctional. It has also been defended as essential in its current formulation, and for some it is considered as in need of revision; in some other views, this definition has paved the way to lexicalization of most human existence as well as to abuses of the power of state in the name of health promotion (Salomon et al., 2003; Garcia, 2001; Seed house, 1995). Although this definition is subjected to some challenges, there are still scholars and researchers that agreed to such (Dubos, 1968; 1988; O’Donnell, 1989). In 2001, Lennart Nordenfelt disputed the Who’s definition. Noreen felt defined health by replacing the term optimal with the word complete and leaving out the terms social and well-being.
With the variety of anthologies about the definition of health, I strongly believe that health is wealth. It may sound as cliché but this idea remains practically applicable on this contemporary era. As to support Marmora’s idea that whatever the level of definition of health being employed, it is important to distinguish this from the question of the determinants of (that definition of) health (1989). The definition of health should be broad enough to encompass the dimensions that people – providers of care, policymakers, and particularly ordinary individuals – feel to be important (1994).
Then again, health must be handled and cared properly. Wellness promotion should permeate “through all the social, environmental, and other activities of populations” (Holland, 1997, p. 1645). Although the promotion of health is often identified with orchestrating a change in lifestyle, such individual modifications, it should be likewise “require some combination of educational, organizational, economic, and environmental interventions in support of change in both behavior and conditions of living” (Green et al., 1997, p. 125). It should start within each individual.
Since health is the optimum condition of a person, it is vital to protect and preserve it. However, acquiring an absolute freedom to do things, people sometimes intentionally or even unintentionally make things that could possibly harm their well-being. As for my own self, I have current detrimental behaviors affecting my state of health. Among these are smoking, drinking liquor, lack of exercise and being a workaholic. For the record, I would like to pay particular attention in my habits of smoking and being workaholic. I find these two more detrimental than the two. Since I am a woman, it is not pleasant for me to smoke excessively. I am aware of the possible side effects and illnesses brought about by smoking. Some forms of cancer and other respiratory disorders are high at stake. By smoking, I might acquire such diseases that will eventually deteriorate my health status. I am also liable with the possible effects of my smoking habit among the people around me and the environment. Further, smoking is risky and it realistically destroys an excellent wellness. As for being a workaholic, I tend to forget my responsibilities of taking my own self. Because I am always preoccupied, busy and always on-the-go, I no longer pay attention to the calls, needs, and requirements of my health. This contributes to the destruction of my health. A 24/7 schedule at work causes stress that might initiate more hazardous and complicated sicknesses. Being a workaholic lessens my time to exercise, attend to my healthy lifestyle, and even to care for my entire being. With such reasons, I believe smoking and being a workaholic are potential pitfalls of my originally excellent well-being.
Possessing the knowledge and acceptance to those detrimental behaviors that I have towards health, I also develop and prioritize health-promoting behaviors to contradict and eventually give up those bad habits. Among these health-promoting activities that are involvement in church activities and functions and productive hobbies like reading, drawing, and knitting. Additionally, the fact that I have regular physicals and dental appointments and the absence of hospitalization is considered as health-promoting practices. I view them as health-promoting activities because they contribute to the total development of all the dimension of health namely physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. In doing such, I divert my attention and make myself busy in more important things. Hence, I am avoiding the temptations of cigarettes, liquors, work and even indolence or doing nothing at all. These health-promoting practices enhance my well-being and at the same time guarantee my full exercise of potentials to become a useful and productive citizen.
Again, health is still the most treasured and sought-after wealth. What we do to our own selves is related to the condition of our health. Accordingly, we must protect and preserve our well-being. Besides, money and earthly desires cannot totally bring back the perfection of our body mechanism. In general, health among individuals should not only be based on physical wellness or in the absence of diseases, rather mental, social, intellectual and other determinants of health should also be considered.
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