Health and wellness

The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of “health” has not been amended since 1948.

It states: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Is there a difference between health and wellness?

WHO defines “wellness” as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices towards a healthy and fulfilling life.

Wellness is much more than being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth, a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential. It is all about living a life full of personal responsibility and therefore taking proactive steps for one’s entire wellbeing.

Health and wellness risk factors and healthy fitness

People who want to live life at its best control risk factors that can harm them.

Risk factors are different types of actions or conditions that increase a person’s chances of illness or injury.

Examples of some relevant risk factors are:
Smoking – A risk factor for developing lung cancer among many other terrible problems.

Mountain climbing – A risk factor for several problems, from broken bones to a swollen brain.

Alcohol – A risk factor for developing liver damage, but not only that, as a lot more damage can be done throughout the body, including the brain.

Unprotected sex – A risk factor, as we all know, that can lead to some very nasty sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

The four primary components of health-related fitness that are important to improve physical health are as follows:
• Cardio-respiratory ca­­pacity is the ability of the body to take in oxygen (respiration), deliver it to the cells (circulation), and use it at the cellular level to create energy for physical work (activity). In fitness, we also refer to cardio-respiratory capacity as aerobic capacity.

• Muscular capacity refers to the spectrum of muscular capability, what they can achieve.

• Flexibility is the range of movement or amount of motion that a joint is capable of performing.

• Body composition is the proportion of fat-free mass (muscle, bone, blood, organs, and fluids) to fat mass (adipose tissue deposited under the skin and around the organs). Some of the long-term adaptations of improving body composition are decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, improved basal metabolic rate, improved bodily function, and improved BMI.

Why wellness matters

Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to live a higher quality of life and enjoy a good overall health condition.

Wellness really matters. It matters because everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our wellbeing. In turn, our wellbeing directly affects our actions and emotions. It is like an on-going circle. Therefore, it is important for everyone to achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress and reduce the risk of illness.

Wellness is the search for enhanced quality of life, personal growth and potential, through positive lifestyle behaviours and attitudes. If we take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing we can improve our health on a daily basis. Certain factors influence our state of wellness, including nutrition, physical activity, stress-coping methods, good relationships, and career success.

Each day we work toward maximising our level of health and wellness to live long, full, and healthy lives. The pursuit of health, personal growth and improved quality of life relies on living a balanced life. To achieve balance, we need to care for our mind, body and spirit.

If any of these three areas is consistently lacking or forgotten about, we will not be at our optimal level of health. We are constantly challenged with balancing each of these three areas throughout life.

Health is a dynamic process because it is always changing. We all have times of good health, times of sickness, and maybe even times of serious illness. As our lifestyles change, so does our level of health.

Those of us who participate in regular physical activity do so partly to improve the current and future level of our health. We strive toward an optimal state of wellbeing. As our lifestyle improves, our health also improves and we experience less disease and sickness.

“Illness is a loss of regulatory capacity, the inability to correctly respond to a wide variety of internal, environmental and lifestyle factors…Healing is the restoration of the regulatory capacity.” When healing is still possible … It all depends on your own life choices.

Best health wishes,
Dr. Maria Alice

By Dr Maria Alice
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Dr Maria Alice is a consultant in General and Family Medicine. General Manager/Medical Director – Luzdoc International Medical Service / Medilagos. Medical Director – Grupo Hospital Particular do Algarve