Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a condition of full physical, mental and emotional well-being with no limitations.” Different definitions have been applied to health throughout the history of the world. In the United States, the definition has remained fairly consistent. We believe that health is indivisible from being well. In other words, we believe that “being healthful” includes feeling good about being self-aware, self-reliant, and capable of managing one’s health and wellness in a manner acceptable to him or her.
This view of health as a life course definition is opposed to views that view health as a short term or one time factor. It seems to follow that as you become ill or become disabled, your standard of living declines and health care becomes more expensive. Since quality of life depends on having access to health care, some argue that once a person becomes ill, they have little control over their health care and die later in life. Others would disagree with this definition, believing that people who are healthy are those who have taken personal responsibility for their health care and live long enough to enjoy a good quality of life.
Regardless of which view one comes to regarding the definition of well-being, it is clear that both must be considered in defining what is meant by wellness. The well-being approach centers on the individual’s ability to lead a quality life, and the risk factors associated with poor health. Thus, a good health definition is one that takes into account current conditions (obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc), as well as future threats (age, diseases, obesity, high blood pressure, etc). A comprehensive approach to wellness therefore, considers both present and future conditions and risks and attempts to provide a universal, qualitative definition of well-being that encompasses all dimensions of quality of life.