©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

How Do You Define Health?

Reviewed on 10/29/2020

What Does It Mean to Be Truly Healthy?

Real health is not just the absence of disease or infirmity, but a general thriving physically, emotionally and socially.
Real health is not just the absence of disease or infirmity, but a general thriving physically, emotionally and socially.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as, “a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines health as, “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; the general condition of the body; and a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well.”

What Determines Health?

The World Health Organization lists a number of factors that, combined, contribute to the overall health of both individuals and communities. 

Absence of disease is not the only factor in establishing health. According to the WHO, the determinants of health include:

  • Social and economic environment
  • Physical environment
  • A person’s individual characteristics and behaviors

Other factors that help determine health include:

  • Income and social status 
    • Both higher income and higher social status are associated with better health
  • Education
    • Low levels of education contribute to poor health, increased stress, and lower self-confidence
  • Physical environment 
    • Safe water 
    • Clean air
    • Healthy workplaces
    • Safe homes 
    • Safe communities
    • Safe roads 
  • Genetics 
    • Genetics can contribute to determining lifespan, overall health, and the likelihood of developing certain illnesses
  • Personal behavior
    • Healthy, balanced diet
    • Regular physical activity 
    • Not smoking or drinking
    • How a person deals with life’s stresses 
  • Gender 
    • Men and women suffer from different types of diseases at different ages
  • Social support networks 
    • Family support, as well as support from friends and communities is linked to better health
  • Culture 
    • Cultural customs and traditions, and family and community beliefs and affect health

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 10/29/2020
References


CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW