Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

Health is a universal concept and includes ways in which we adapt our wellness, physical and mental, to changing realities that affect our minds and bodies. It is not just the absence of diseases, but also our ability to participate, without obstacles, in daily activities.

What Is Health?

Although health typically refers to a person’s physical and mental well-being marked by an absence of disease or illness, with constant debate over the definition of “what is health?”, the concept has changed drastically over the years. Health is not only our body’s ability to function properly on a daily basis and the absence of diseases, but also our ability to cope with stress and live a more active and longer life. A healthy lifestyle allows us to live a purposeful and meaningful life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO 1 ), “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” However, this definition is considered somewhat unsuitable as coping with diseases, seeking treatment and recovering from illness or managing the symptoms are more realistic today. Someone can be healthy even if they are not in a state of “complete” physical or mental well-being. The definition, then, can vary from individual to individual based on differing perspectives and factors.

One 2006 study 2 revealed that health can be defined in three different ways, such as –

  • Health is the absence of any disease, illness, or impairment.
  • Health is a state which enables us to properly deal with the demands and challenges of daily life, including the absence of illness.
  • Health is “a state of balance, an equilibrium that an individual has established within himself and between himself and his social and physical environment.”

Another 2013 study explains that health can be considered as our capability to work and love. It is the “ability of an individual to realize aspirations and satisfy needs and to cope with the environment.” Thus, health is regarded as a resource for daily life.

The definition of health, then, depends on the individual and their specific goals and objectives related to health.

Read More About Stress Here

Understanding Health And Wellness

The term ‘health’ is derived from the Old English word ‘hælth’, which means something that is complete or whole within itself. According to a 2009 study, health is our ability to adapt to our environment. Health is not necessarily a fixed unit but it tends to lie on a spectrum where illness can simultaneously exist with good health.

A person can experience both good and poor health at different phases of their lives. Health “varies for every individual, depending on their circumstances. Health is defined not by the doctor, but by the person, according to his or her functional needs,” adds the study.

Generally, in human beings, health refers to our psychological, emotional, physical, and social capacity to deal with our environment. In this context, a person, who is normally considered healthy, may feel weak or ill after experiencing a change in their environment. For instance, if a person who has lived a sedentary life in the city for years moves to mountain home, they may suffer from dyspnea or shortness of breath due to lower oxygen at a higher altitude.

However, they may feel better once their body adjusts to the higher altitude. Hence, the presence or absence of disease or illness may not be the best way to determine someone’s health. But the presence of chronic illness, on the other hand, can be an indicator of poor health.

If the disease is the primary factor in determining health, then someone who is healthy at present may be diagnosed with a disease in the future due to poor lifestyle, genetics, environment, accident, or even technological advancements. Moreover, certain individuals coping with illnesses, whether physical or psychiatric, may be able to function normally in their daily lives and in their community. Some individuals may also overcome their illness without seeking any medical help.

Our health primarily depends on whether we have achieved a state of balance in our environment and within ourselves. Health is a crucial aspect of human existence that is not solely reliant on the presence or absence of diseases.

Different Types Of Health

Different Types of Health

The concepts and definitions 3 of health and health-related values and conditions vary greatly across 4 the globe. In general, the types of health include the following types –

  • Public health
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Spiritual health
  • Social health
  • Intellectual health
  • Occupational health
  • Environmental health

Read More About Good Mental Health Here

1. What Is Public Health?

According to a 2021 study 5, public health is a broad term 6 for wellness that “focuses on improving the overall health of [a public] group by improving the health of its individuals by various means”, such as disease prevention and treatment, monitoring various environments, etc.

Within the purview of public health, we include 7 physical, mental, spiritual, social, intellectual, occupational, and environmental health.

2. What Is Physical Health?

Physical health means a state of wellness in which a person’s body is free from a disease or physical injury. It is linked to your ability to perform daily activities, occupations, and physical activities without any obstacles. It can be maintained with:

  • Balanced diet
  • Physical exercises
  • Medicines, etc.

3. What Is Mental Health?

Mental health means a person’s psychological, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive well-being. The term is often used to indicate the absence of mental disorders, like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. It can be maintained with:

  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Self-care
  • Brain games
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Mindfulness strategies, etc.

Read More About Therapy Here

4. What Is Spiritual Health?

Spiritual health is the health and wellness associated with a person’s spirit. It involves finding meaning and peace in your life and balancing your personal and social lives. It is not limited to your religiosity or your participation in a religious community.

5. What Is Social Health?

Social health is a person’s ability to connect with people, form good interpersonal relationships, and contribute meaningfully to your community. This includes:

  • Building strong relationships
  • Building skills like communication and conflict management
  • Preventing social problems, etc.

6. What Is Intellectual Health?

By intellectual health, we mean a state of mind in which a person is open to new ideas, experiences, new skills, and increased creativity. It allows you to cope with the normal stress of life and improve and challenge yourself at intellectual and productive levels. Its examples include:

  • Becoming a critical thinker
  • Developing skills like decision-making, time management, etc.

Read More About Time Management Here

7. What Is Occupational Health?

WHO describes occupational health as a wellness “[promoting] and [maintaining] the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations.” Its health services include:

  • Employee wellness
  • Pre-placement testing
  • Ergonomics
  • Occupational therapy and medicine

8. What Is Environmental Health?

Environmental Health is used to mean the aspects of your natural and built environments that affect 8 your health and wellness. One 2019 study 9 lists the essential environmental public health services, including:

  • Monitoring quality of air, water, etc.
  • Managing sanitation 10 and energy resources
  • Addressing climate change, etc.

Importance Of Health And Hygiene

Good health and hygiene 11 are cornerstones of human development and human society. Studies reveal that improvements in the components of good health can significantly “improve the quality of life of huge numbers of people, particularly children, in developing countries.”

Maintaining good health and hygiene has a number of benefits for:

1. Families

For families, good health means spending less on health care and being a well-rounded group of individuals with happy and fulfilling lives.

2. Children

For children, as UNICEF puts it, good health is important for “preventing the spread of infectious diseases and helping children lead long, healthy lives.” This also influences their mental health, learning outcomes, and happiness.

3. Countries

For countries, good health and wellness play an important role in:

  • Economic growth
  • Sustainable development
  • Poverty eradication
  • Cultural progress
  • Withstanding natural disasters
  • The happiness of citizens.

Healthy people are usually hard-working and contributing citizens to a country’s workforce, treasury, and national development. They do not overburden the state’s healthcare networks, resources, and infrastructure with their dependency.

Determinants Of Health

Determinants of Good Health

In order to reap the benefits of good health, it is important to understand the factors that determine good health and wellness.

The essential factors for good health are as follows:

1. Background

A number of background factors affect your good health, such as lifestyle, economic circumstances, and social and cultural environments. Specifically, lifestyle factors for good health are linked to higher income groups who could afford proper nutrition, housing, healthcare, education, etc.

2. Income And Social Status

One of the most important health determinants is income 12. Higher a person’s income is, the higher is his/her social status and the ability to afford the lifestyle factors of good health, such as good nutrition, healthcare, education, employment, etc.

According to a 2014 study 13, the health of an individual is associated with an “individuals’ socioeconomic resources or social position, typically income, educational attainment, or rank in an occupational hierarchy.” The higher the social status of a person, the greater is his/her health. As a result, he/she enjoys greater health than his/her poorer peers.

3. Social Environment

Meaningful socialization and social support are two pillars of mental health, social health, occupational health, and intellectual health. Studies show that your community’s support in procuring resources that foster good health can help you enjoy good health. In fact, society’s values and norms related to health and wellness influence social health and individual wellbeing.

For instance, group support and community health care programs are frequently used as therapeutic interventions 14 for mental disorders like depression, social phobia, etc. Experts also encourage community participation 15 to do away 16 with the stigma 17 associated with seeking mental healthcare.

4. Education And Literacy

Health status and health equity 18 improve with one’s level of education. Education influences a person’s employability status, income, and social status—which further determine his/her lifestyle factors for good health. Greater literacy, especially health education 19, also helps people access and understand information related to health and improve their health outcomes. Research 20 shows that poor literacy 21 is an obstacle 22 to population and public health initiatives.

5. Employment And Working Conditions

Studies 23 show that greater job security 24, income security, and job satisfaction 25 boost people’s mental and occupational health. Healthy working conditions 26 and work culture have an impact on both physical and mental health.

6. Physical Environment

Factors like housing, air 27 and water quality 28, transportation systems 29, natural environment 30, soil quality 31, availability of energy resources 32, etc. are major determinants of health. A 2002 study 33 says, “Poor housing conditions are associated with a wide range of health conditions, including respiratory infections, asthma, lead poisoning, injuries, and mental health.”

7. Personal Health Practices

Your self-care methods 34, balanced lifestyle 35, and personal hygienic practices 36 can prevent diseases and influence 37 your health outcomes. Studies 38 show that the type of healthcare systems (like medical systems, medicines, health insurance, etc.) you use also have an impact on your and your family’s health.

8. Genetic Factors

A person’s genetic factors are one of the major determinants of health throughout his/her lifetime. Specifically, genetic disorders like Down’s syndrome 39, hemophilia 40, thalassemia 41, etc. have physical and mental implications in the long run.

Read More About Genetics Here

9. Culture

Every culture has certain health-related values 42 tailored according to sex, age, gender, disease, treatment approach, etc. These values 43 impact the health outcomes of the people following that particular culture. Moreover, cultural norms 44 can influence your personal perceptions of health and wellness, such as diet, body image, emotional response, etc.

According to the 2017 Massachusetts State Health Assessment, genes, biology, and health care only make up 20% of the factors that determine our health. Social and economic factors have a much greater impact, namely, 40%. These factors can be adjusted and improved to better your health conditions.

What Is Health Literacy?

Health literacy started as a practice to help the general public with information about health and to raise awareness about the importance of health and hygiene. However, this concept has evolved to include guiding public health actions (like types of health conditions, treatment, etc.) and addressing health emergencies like pandemics, epidemics, etc.

According to one 2020 study 45, “Health literacy has been commonly interpreted as an ability to use general literacy skills in obtaining, understanding, appraising, synthesizing, communicating and applying health-related information.” It can be availed at both individual and organizational levels, through personally accessed medical resources and/or organizational measures like mental health workshops, etc.

Some of its most common benefits include –

  • Increasing patients’ involvement 46 in medical decision-making
  • Helping a person to better manage his medical resources
  • Enabling the early identification of symptoms of physical and mental disorders
  • Enabling the patients to avail timely medical treatment
  • Improving people’s health outcomes by keeping them informed about the latest health-related trends around nutrition, treatment methods, etc.
  • Improving their self-care and everyday hygienic practices
  • Increasing the use of evidence-based health literacy practices

Read More About Self-Love Here

Tips To Maintain Good Health

Tips For Good Health

Rather than waiting for any sickness to address health problems, consider aiming at health goals that maintain a continuous state of well-being. Spend time with your loved ones and indulge in activities that make you happy. Inner happiness and mental peace help avoid unhealthy coping habits like binge eating, drug use, and alcoholism, and pushes you towards healthy lifestyle 47 choices that boost your health and wellness.

Listed below are some basic tips to maintain good health:

  • Follow a healthy work-life balance
  • Follow a balanced diet 48 and healthy food habits
  • Drink 2–4 liters of water 49 every day
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep 50
  • Develop hygienic practices 51 like washing hands 52, taking a bath, etc.
  • Regularly screen for diseases and health disorders
  • Practice 53 exercise, yoga, walking, meditation, etc.
  • Develop healthy habits like reading, journaling, etc.
  • Socialize and develop meaningful relationships 54
  • To manage everyday stress, try stress management and mindfulness techniques
  • Develop social skills like communication, time management, decision making, etc.
  • Communicate effectively 55 at work and at home about responsibilities
  • Maintain a value system and put goals into action
  • Avail the benefits 56 of health literacy, so that you can take better decisions about your health
  • In case of health emergencies, consult medical help
  • Avail treatment methods like therapy, medication, group support, etc.


Health is an experiential and sustainable type of adaptation that helps us cope with changing physical, social, and emotional environments. It is of various types and is determined by factors like income, social standing, genetics, etc. It can be easily maintained through health literacy, a balanced diet, exercise, hygienic practices, and medical help.

Health At A Glance

  1. Health typically refers to a person’s physical and mental well-being marked by an absence of disease or illness.
  2. Recent research views it as a spectrum of wellness that includes ways in which we adapt, physically and mentally, to changing realities that affect our minds and bodies.
  3. Though health is a universal concept, its definitions keep changing.
  4. There are different types of health—-public, physical, mental, spiritual, social, intellectual, occupational, and environmental.
  5. It is determined by a number of factors, such as background, culture, genetics, employment, income, etc.
  6. Health and wellness can be easily improved through health literacy, a balanced diet, exercise, hygienic practices, and medical help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the 5 most common health disorders?

Obesity, substance abuse, colds and influenza, diabetes, and mental disorders are the 5 most common health disorders.

2. What are the common health problems of a teenager?

Common health problems of a teenager are usually related to puberty, nutrition, body image, substance abuse, mental health, and sexual health.

3. What is the biggest public health issue?

Heart diseases comprise the biggest public health issue worldwide. However, public health issues can also vary from one country to another.

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