What does it mean to be healthy? Health is an important aspect of life. We have surely heard of this phrase: Health is wealth. Being healthy is the key to prosperity and wellness irrespective of the material possessions we have.
But being healthy is not just merely the absence of diseases. So, what does it mean to be healthy? The idea of health differs from one individual or a group to another. But, being healthy is NOT being perfect physically. To understand what it means to be healthy, we can break this up into the following points:
- What exactly does health mean?
- How can health be classified?
- How can we be healthy?
- How does health impact our lives?
What exactly does healthy mean?
What does it mean to be healthy? According to World Health Organisation:
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This definition given in 1948 is still upheld by major health authorities. Yet, the interpretation of this definition is open to our discretion.
At last, what does it mean to be healthy? For many, it is just being devoid of diseases. For some, it’s more than that. Some may take inner peace, wellness of the environment under the gambit of health. Some may even consider proper sleep and a balanced diet under this definition. But we need to understand that a healthy lifestyle gives life a purpose.
The definition of health is wide, given how different people perceive it. We shall now explore how health is classified.
How can health be classified?
As WHO defined health, we can broadly classify health in the following ways- physical and mental health.
A. Physical health
What does it mean to be healthy? It means being free from any physical obstacles.
Physical health refers to the ability to perform bodily functions. Good physical health indicates that the bodily functions of the person are in the best shape.
Having good health involves following a healthy lifestyle for the prevention and treatment of disease. Maintaining physical fitness, in particular, can protect the endurance of our breathing capacity and cardiovascular function, strength muscularity flexibility, and body composition.
For balance purposes, humans receive medical care for any injury or health-related condition such as abuse of substances. Healthy living is associated with regular exercise balanced diet and proper rest. Good physical health can also be considered a good combination between mental health and physical fitness.
B. Mental health
What does it mean to be healthy? It means to be mentally fit and sound.
Mental health is as essential as physical health is in a complete, active lifestyle. It is also tougher to define mental health than physical health because many psychological diagnoses depend on an individual’s perception. CT scans and genetic tests now allow doctors to detect physical signs of mental illnesses.
Having anorexia or depression causes your weight to fluctuate and affects weight and the quality of your body. The keys to good health can be achieved by promoting overall well-being and keeping the right balance. It is not just about the absence of depression or anxiety. It does however depend upon one’s capability.
While answering the question- what does it mean to be healthy, it is observed that health can be further classified into the following types as well:
C. Social health
Humans are social animals; thus, socializing becomes an important aspect of our survival. From National Health Portal India,
“Social health is more than just the prevention of mental illness and social problems. Being socially healthy means an increased degree of happiness including a sense of belonging and concern for others.”
Interacting with your peers, having an assertive nature, being in healthy social relationships, and living a stress-free life are some of the factors of good social health. Social health is important as it enables to bond individuals with society. Lack of such interactions has a detrimental impact on a person.
D. Emotional health
Emotional health deals with how a person should feel. It may be considered under the domain of mental health, but emotional health specifically addresses how we come in terms with our thoughts and, of course, emotions in various situations happening in our lives. Being self-motivated, knowing your self-worth, and coping with failures are some of the signs that a person has good emotional health.
E. Intellectual health
Intellectual health comes under the purview of mental health. It refers to stimulating new and creative ideas and actively participate in scholastic, cultural, and community activities. It is more than how you perform in academics. Coming up with new solutions to the problems, critical thinking, having a focus in life, and trying ways to expand the output are some of the indicators of good intellectual health.
F. Spiritual health
As per a study done by the National Institute of Health, US:
“Spiritual health includes a purposeful life, transcendence, and actualization of different dimensions and capacities of human beings. Spiritual health creates a balance between physical, psychological and social aspects of human life.”
That being said, spiritual health may not be able to cure our diseases affecting our body and mind but help cope with them. Spirituality is an ideal way to find purpose in life.
So, what does it mean to be healthy?
From the above definitions, we have seen how various aspects of health overlap in some of the other forms. Yet, to understand good overall health, we need to look how a healthy person looks like.
How can we be healthy?
So, exactly, what does it mean to be healthy?
While ensuring health and wellness, we should address all health problems. While these observations are universal and generic, the definition of a healthy person is not restricted. Here are some of them.
Absence of disease
What does it mean to be healthy? The definition of health as given by the World Health Organisation in 1948 talks about the ‘absence of disease or infirmity.’ People perceive good health to be devoid of acute and chronic diseases.
Accessibility to healthcare facilities also plays an important role in dispensing preventive and curing measures in ensuring good health. But, maintaining good health is in our hands. You can also achieve good health through the following:
- Exercise regularly. Go for a walk, play your favorite sport, do some yoga or involve yourself in other physical activities.
- Have a balanced diet. Ensure that your meal contains all the nutrition according to your needs. Try eating natural foods instead of processed ones.
- If you have any symptoms whatsoever, consult a doctor immediately before they can be cured.
- Avoid unhealthy practices such as consumption of drugs, alcohol and other addictive substances, and smoking.
- Keep note of the health-related infomercials that come up in the media. Attend those health seminars. Learn more about health-related issues and how to tackle them.
- When no one is around, you can fall back on your family members. Talk with them about your challenges. They are always there to motivate you.
- Never take unnecessary stress. It will hamper your overall health.
Striking a balance between physical, mental, and social health
What does it mean to be healthy? While discussing health, stress must be laid upon ‘a state of complete physical and social health and wellbeing. Our mind is as important as our body is; thus, mental health should be taken seriously. If a person is physically perfect, socially adept, and mentally as well as emotionally fit, they have less to worry about.
Research has shown that lack of interaction with the world and mental ailments like depression, stress, and anxiety harm a person’s lifestyle. A person’s eating and sleeping habits change drastically, they get secluded from peers and the community, they may get physically affected and the list goes on.
What does it mean to be healthy? How do I get to be healthy?
To ensure that, we can implement these simple steps into our lives:
- Meditation works a long way in connecting with our spirits. Do yoga or introspect yourself to understand yourself better. Try to search for yourselves for it is ‘one of the toughest tasks to do’.
- Get involved in some physical activities. Hit the gym, do some exercise, or jogging. Do something that moves you.
- If you feel overburdened with work and like it, take a break. Relaxation is really important to bring down your stress. Pursue your hobby or do what you love to do.
- Do something engaging. Read an interesting book, talk to a stranger, do a short-term course. Try to find something new and interesting to do every day. This will ensure that you are intellectually well.
- Stay positive and believe in yourself. It will go a long way. It will change your outlook. You will always be optimistic and motivated to learn new things and improve yourself.
- Always adopt healthy and eco-friendly options. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or the elevator. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of frozen ones. Cook your own food instead of ordering it. Walk to your destination instead of using a vehicle if it is not far away.
- Seek medical assistance immediately, whenever ailments cannot be cured by self-remedy.
- Proper sleep is extremely important in ensuring smooth bodily functions. Have sufficient sleep and start afresh!
- Clear clutters in your life. Give priority to the things that matter the most to you. Free your room from all the waste once a week. Avoid those tasks and people that are deviating you from your focus.
- Share with confidantes how you feel. Search for ways where you can unwind the load you have in your mind.
How does health impact our lives?
What does it mean to be healthy? Being healthy in all aspects impacts our lives in many ways. We can understand this from an example.
Mira is an optimistic girl. She always looks at the bright side of everything. She has been a good student during her years in school and college. Her academic records were great and took a keen interest in sports.
Her parents, especially her mother, had been a beacon of motivation. Whenever she felt low or dejected, she would share all of them with her mother. She was a shy girl though, having few friends. She did not gel well with everyone.
One day, she started to have shivers and had a high fever. But within few days, her condition worsened. Her fever was not going down. She had to be hospitalized. For a sporty girl who never had any medical conditions, it was devastating. Mira felt weak and demoralized. She dreaded badly to go home and meet her loved ones. The situation was not bad enough for her when another shocker came to her.
While in the hospital, her stomach started to ache badly. After investigation, it was found out that she had appendicitis and her appendix had to be removed surgically. This was overwhelming for a ‘healthy’ girl like Mira.
Then, there was a girl named Ray, a far acquaintance of Mira. She has not been in touch with her. Ray is a highly introverted girl. She prefers to stay at home. She lives on takeaway food. Ray had a troubled childhood.
She belonged to a low-middle-class family. Her parents used to frequently quarrel, leaving an indelible mark in her mind. That is why she preferred solitude for she feared risking relationships. She had no one to talk to. Her parents passed away long before.
Ray does not get involved in any physical activities as well. She loves to write in her blog. Yet, she felt incomplete. She wanted something else. One day, she learned about Mira from someone. She immediately tried to ring her but to no avail. She then decided to go meet her at the hospital. It was a chance for her to interact with someone.
When Mira saw Ray, she was teeming with optimism. Even though her parents tried to calm her, her illness has taken a toll on Mira’s physical and mental health. Ray was shocked to see such a person breaking down. Ray tried to comfort her saying that this is nothing. She must stay positive and results will come, she said.
After that, Ray stood by Mira’s side. They talked for long hours and both enjoyed the company they were in. After Mira was discharged, both of them came closer than ever before. They would go take a stroll at the park in the neighborhood.
Ray inculcated Mira on how to keep control of her emotions. Eventually, both of them joined a yoga group and expanded their friend circle. Mira was quick at talking to new people around her.
The Economic Benefits Of Health
As discussed in the beginning, health is wealth. We have seen above how health affects various aspects of our body, mind, and soul. We can answer the question- what does it mean to be healthy- in economic terms.
Being healthy means spending on improving health and living standards. Health has become a thriving industry. As more people are being aware of contemporary health issues, more people are willing to spend US$7.8 trillion as of 2017, which was 10% of the global GDP. Per capita spending was US$1080. (Source – World Health Organisation) This number is growing annually.
As per Business Research Company, the global health industry is worth $456.9 billion in 2019, and it is expected to grow to $603.5 billion in 2023.
These pieces of evidence are good enough to show how this industry is vital for economic growth and prosperity.
Countries like India have taken advantage of integrating cheap and cutting-edge technology to promote ‘medical tourism’. Patients all around the world come to such places and get treatment. Thus, the health industry is instrumental for a ‘healthy economy.
Health is directly proportional to productivity. It is a fact that a healthy person can do a task better than the one who is not.
A study was conducted by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. It says that chronic conditions such as depression/anxiety, obesity, arthritis, and back/neck pain contribute to productivity loss. Costs arising out of lost productivity are 2.3 times more than pharmacy costs incurred by the firm.
This calls for firms to ensure that their employees are healthy enough so that the production of output is not hampered.
So What Does It Mean To Be Healthy?
While answering the question- what does it mean to be healthy- we can see that health is a broad topic. We have tried to address all its facades. After all, it is upon us. To feel healthy is our responsibility and our right.
For the betterment of humanity, we must pledge to make our lives better by practicing healthier methods. We must also ensure a healthcare system for all that is capable to cater the needs of every patient.
At last, being healthy is a key towards a prosperous life!
If you want to explore more on what does it mean to be healthy- you can check out this article about the 7 dimensions of wellness by clicking here. You can also learn about the three most effective healthy coping mechanisms by clicking here.
Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.