Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition that is maintained through a proper balance of body fluids, including blood and bile; a regular intake of nutrients and water; and avoidance of infectious diseases. A number of definitions have also been used over time for various purposes. One school of thought maintains that health is the sum of three parts: physical health, mental health, and social or emotional health. Another definition maintains that health is the result of favorable interaction among the different components of a person’s life.
Maintaining good health has many benefits. It decreases the chances of premature death and illness, improves life expectancy, and prevents chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. According to studies, healthy people live longer than those with unhealthy conditions, and are less likely to develop fatal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. In addition, there are several public health benefits that can be obtained through maintaining good health. According to the World Health Organization and the Joint Committee on Public Health, good health can improve the quality of life for people of all ages, and reduce the burden of global health financing.
Although most people associate good health with good physical attributes, poor health can have repercussions on one’s ability to participate effectively in society, increase their potential for success, cope with stress, and experience a quality of life. Studies have shown that even a small reduction in perceived social factor (e.g., perceptions of discrimination) can reduce the prevalence of many serious health risks. Similarly, studies have found that people who suffer from poor health are more likely to experience stress and depression, and are less confident about their social and emotional well-being. Additionally, people with poor health are often unable to fully integrate into the communities in which they live, and experience greater difficulties adapting to their new environments. Finally, in the context of aging, studies have found that older adults who are perceived to be unhealthy by both peers and professionals (e.g., if they are overweight or obese) are more likely to experience social isolation and unhealthy coping strategies (e.g., increased smoking, use of alcohol and other substances, higher use of medications).