Optimal health definition

The terms disease prevention, health promotion, and wellness are often used interchangeably. What does each refer to?

Disease prevention

includes activities that prevent disease before it occurs, detect it early, or reduce related disability. One of the great achievements of the 20th century was eradicating or greatly diminishing infectious diseases like polio, smallpox and influenza through immunization and environmental sanitation. Strides were also made in protecting the public against accidents and occupational hazards. The focus then shifted to the new #1 killers – chronic lifestyle-related diseases – first through screening for early detection (e.g., cancer screening) and risk factors like high blood pressure. The newest focus is on preventing or managing chronic diseases through helping people make lifestyle and behavioral changes – health promotion.The American Journal of Health Promotion defines health promotion as the science and art of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health, which is a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Attention has focused on the well-researched physical health dimension, with programs focusing on smoking cessation, exercise, weight control, and better nutritional habits and safety practices. There is growing interest in emotional health, however, as a result of recent research showing the importance of stress and depression in driving health care costs.
The dictionary definition of wellness – the quality of state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal – sounds remarkably like health promotion. It’s small wonder these terms are used so interchangeably! A visit to the National Wellness Institute Web site or its annual conference, however, suggests an emphasis on the emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions of optimal health. A Web search for “wellness” turns up everything from traditional health promotion, to chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, qigong, naturopathy, chanting, and gardening.

The 2 Week Diet

With so much overlap, what’s the best way of thinking about these terms? Although it evolved from disease prevention, health promotion goes far beyond preventing disease – it seeks to optimize health. Optimal health enhances quality of life – it also reduces health-related costs and improves productivity. Given its roots in medicine and public health, and the demands of worksite health services, the health promotion field tends to be research based. While acknowledging the science of health promotion, the wellness movement emphasizes experiential factors and societal or even universal goals.

The vast majority of past federal research funding has focused on the environmental and medical aspects of disease prevention. Little has been directed toward health promotion or wellness. Health Promotion Advocates can get the funding necessary to advance both our science and our art – by differentiating health promotion from the narrower definition of prevention and the more tenuous aspects of wellness.

American Journal of Health Promotion

Web site: http://www.healthpromotionjournal.com/

Definition of Health Promotion

“Health promotion is the science and art of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health. Optimal health is defined as a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. Lifestyle change can be facilitated through a combination of efforts to enhance awareness, change behavior and create environments that support good health practices. Of the three, supportive environments will probably have the greatest impact in producing lasting change”. (American Journal of Health Promotion, 1989,3,3,5)

O’Donnell MP. Definition of health promotion: part III: expanding the definition. Am J Health Promot. 1989;3:5.

National Wellness Institute

Web site:
http://www.nationalwellness.org/

Definition of Wellness

Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.

The key words in this first sentence are process, aware, choices and success.
Process means that we never arrive at a point were there is no possibility of improving.
Aware means that we are by our nature continuously seeking more information about how we can improve.
Choices means that we have considered a variety of options and select those that seem to be in our best interest.
Success is determined by each individual to be their personal collection of accomplishments for their life.
Wellness is multidimensional. A popular model adopted by many university, corporate, and public health programs encompasses 6 dimensions:

Social
Occupational
Spiritual
Physical
Intellectual
Emotional
Social

The social dimension encourages contributing to one’s human and physical environment to the common welfare of one’s community. It emphasizes the interdependence with others and nature. It includes the pursuit of harmony in one’s family.
As you travel a wellness path, societally, you’ll become more aware of your importance in society as well as the impact you have on nature and your community. You’ll take an active part in improving our world by encouraging a healthy living environment and initiating better communication with those around you. You’ll actively seek ways to preserve the beauty and balance of nature along the pathway. As you proceed on your journey, you’ll discover many things-you’ll discover that you have the power to make willful choices to enhance personal relationships, important friendships, your community, the environment and, ultimately, the world.

AS YOU TRAVEL THE WELLNESS PATH, YOU’LL BEGIN TO BELIEVE AS WE DO THAT- SOCIETALLY-

It’s better to contribute to the common welfare of our community than to think only of ourselves.
It’s better to live in harmony with others and our environment than to live in conflict with them.

Occupational

The occupational dimension is involved in preparing for work in which one will gain personal satisfaction and find enrichment in one’s life through work. Occupational development is related to one’s attitude about one’s work.
Traveling a path toward your occupational wellness, you’ll contribute your unique gifts, skills and talents to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding. You’ll convey your values through your involvement in both paid and unpaid volunteer activities that are gratifying for you. You’ll know when you’re on the correct path for career wellness, when your work and hobbies become exciting. On your journey you’ll begin to value the importance of not only your own personal gratification, but your contribution to the well-being of the community at large. The choice of profession, job satisfaction, career ambitions, and personal performance are all important components of your path’s terrain.

AS YOU TRAVEL THE WELLNESS PATH, YOU’LL BEGIN TO BELIEVE AS WE DO, THAT- OCCUPATIONALLY-

It s better to choose a career which is consistent with our personal values interests and beliefs than to select one that is unrewarding to us.

Its better to develop functional, transferable skills through structured involvement opportunities than to remain inactive and uninvolved.

Spiritual

The spiritual dimension involves seeking meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe.

As you begin to develop the spiritual dimension of your life, taking the Wellness path, spiritually, you’ll start asking the question, “who am I and what is meaningful in my life?” You’ll observe the scenery along the path, the world around you with appreciation and wonderment. You’ll ask many questions about the scenery, the world, as well as your everyday experiences, and learn to value that which cannot be completely understood. Growing spiritually, you’ll try to find peaceful harmony between internal personal feelings and emotions and the rough and rugged stretches of your path. While traveling the path, you may experience many feelings of doubt, despair, fear, disappointment and dislocation as well as feelings of pleasure, joy, happiness and discovery-these are all important experiences and components of the terrain, your value system. You’ll know you’re becoming spiritually well when your actions become more consistent with your beliefs and values. On this excursion, you’ll continually think about and integrate your experiences and beliefs with the experiences and beliefs of those around you. With this valuable information, you’ll be able to engage in the formulation of YOUR world view, and YOUR system of values and goals.

AS YOU TRAVEL THE WELLNESS PATH, YOU’LL BEGIN TO BELIEVE AS WE DO, THAT- SPIRITUALLY-

It’s better to ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant.

It’s better to live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to do otherwise and feel untrue to ourselves.

Physical

The physical dimension encourages cardiovascular flexibility and strength and also encourages regular, physical activity. Physical development encourages knowledge about food and nutrition and discourages the use of tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. It encourages consumption and activities which contribute to high level wellness, including medical self-care and appropriate use of the medical system.

As you travel the wellness path, you’ll strive to spend more time each week building endurance, flexibility and physical strength. Sometimes the path may become narrow and treacherous-you’ll become more aware of the hazards around you and you’ll begin to take safety precautions so you may travel your path successfully. The physical dimension of wellness entails taking responsibility and care for minor illnesses and also knowing when professional medical attention is needed. By traveling the wellness path, physically, you’ll be able to monitor your own vital signs and understand your body’s warning signs. You’ll understand and appreciate the relationship between sound nutrition and how your body performs. The physical dimension provides almost immediate beneficial results-both physical and psychological. The physical benefits of looking good and feeling terrific most often lead to the psychological benefits of enhanced self-esteem, selfcontrol, determination and a sense of direction.
AS YOU TRAVEL THE WELLNESS PATH YOU’LL BEGIN TO BELIEVE AS WE DO THAT- PHYSICALLY-

It’s better to consume foods and beverages that enhance good health rather than those which impair it.
It’s better to be physically fit than out of shape.

Intellectual

The intellectual dimension encourages creative, stimulating mental activities. An intellectually well person uses the resources available to expand one’s knowledge in improved skills along with expanding potential for sharing with others. An intellectually well person uses the intellectual and cultural activities in the classroom and beyond the classroom combined with the human resources and learning resources available within the university community and the larger community.
Traveling a wellness path, intellectually, you’ll, explore issues related to problem solving, creativity, and learning. You’ll spend more time appreciating and thinking about the scenery along the path-pursuing interests, reading books, magazines, and newspapers, You’ll discover a natural interest in keeping abreast of current issues and ideas. As you develop your intellectual curiosity, you’ll actively strive to expand and challenge your mind with creative endeavors. On your path, you’ll begin to see problems and challenges not as stumbling blocks but stepping stones.

AS YOU TRAVEL THE WELLNESS PATH, YOU’LL BEGIN TO BELIEVE AS WE DO, THAT- INTELLECTUALLY-

It’s better to stretch and challenge our minds with intellectual and creative pursuits than to become self-satisfied and unproductive.
It’s better to identify potential problems and choose appropriate courses of action based on available information than to wait, worry and contend with major concerns later.

Emotional

The emotional dimension emphasizes an awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. Emotional wellness includes the degree to which one feels positive and enthusiastic about oneself and life. It includes the capacity to manage one’s feelings and related behaviors including the realistic assessment of one’s limitations, development of autonomy, and ability to cope effectively with stress. The emotionally well person maintains satisfying relationships with others.

As an emotionally well person, you’ll be aware of and accept a wide range of feelings in yourself and others. You’ll be able to express feelings freely and manage feelings effectively. You’ll be able to arrive at personal choices and decisions based upon the synthesis of feelings, thoughts, philosophies, and behavior. On the wellness path, you’ll live and work independently while realizing the importance of seeking and appreciating the support and assistance of others. You’ll be able to form interdependent relationships with others based upon a foundation of mutual commitment, trust and respect. You’ll take on challenges, take risks, and recognize conflict as being potentially healthy. Managing your life in personally rewarding ways, and taking responsibility for your actions, will help you see life as an exciting, hopeful adventure.

AS YOU TRAVEL THE WELLNESS PATH, YOU’LL BEGIN TO BELIEVE AS WE DO, THAT- EMOTIONALLY-

It’s better to be aware of and accept our feelings than to deny them.
It’s better to be optimistic in our approach to life than pessimistic.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
Web site: http://www.merriam-webster.com
Main Entry: well· ness
Pronunciation: wel-n&s

Function: noun

Date: 1654

: the quality of state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal

World Health Organization
Web site: http://www.who.int
WHO definition of HEALTH
: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.The correct bibliographic citation for the definition is:
Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

The Definition has not been amended since 1948.