Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is an “unhealthy condition of the body and its organs which may be chronic, acute, or recurrent.” A number of definitions have also been applied for different purposes over the years. In our current society, however, the word health is often used in a much broader sense, referring not only to a state of good health but also to a state of wellness. The goal of good health is to lead a happy life, free from pain, discomfort and discomforts, and to achieve a sense of well-being. While health is a subjective concept, the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle can typically be quantified and achieved through a number of methods.
One way to look at the definition of health is to examine how it relates to current trends in modern medicine. Modern medical research has made great strides toward understanding the causes and treatments of many common diseases and illnesses. While this progress has made the knowledge of disease more widely accessible, it still falls short of answering some fundamental questions about health. How does obesity affect a person’s health? What are the long-term health implications of cigarette smoking? What are the consequences of improper diet and exercise on the heart and body?
The field of public health has been pursuing answers to these questions for quite some time. Public health professionals work to identify and treat public health problems by addressing the risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing a particular disease. These factors include both genetic factors and environmental ones. For example, a person who has parents that smoke cigarettes and live in a neighborhood high in stress may become more susceptible to acquiring cancer or other diseases that are associated with tobacco. Public health experts have developed public health campaigns aimed at reducing stress and addressing the factors that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle.
An increasing number of experts are also coming to understand how lifestyle choices and environmental determinants combine to produce the individual’s risk for health problems. This is called determinants theory. This theory suggests that people become exposed to certain risk factors through their genetics and environment. It then claims that these factors interact to produce individual responses that are associated with increased likelihoods of acquiring health problems. It is this combination of environmental and genetics that form the basis of public health interventions aimed at improving the health status of persons.
For example, interventions aimed at improving the life expectancy of persons are carried out on the basis of the relationship between physical activities and life expectancy. Life expectancy, which is the number of years a person is expected to live in total, is an important determinant of overall health. It is believed that this relationship exists because when people engage in low-risk physical activities, their chances of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are lower. Similarly, when a person engages in healthy life-enhancing behaviors, his chances of acquiring chronic diseases decrease.
The promotion of physical activities, healthy eating habits and other personal wellness measures are necessary to reduce the risks of acquiring chronic diseases. It is important to stress the importance of getting regular checkups to monitor your general physical health and take preventive measures when you detect any signs of illness. If caught in time, this could profoundly impact your ability to overcome the problem and prevent its development.