In our increasingly health aware times, health has become an important issue in society. Unfortunately, some people still downplay the importance of being fit and healthy. They do not believe that they can live a healthy and fully functional life unless they are constantly monitoring themselves and eating well. This is unfortunate, as our society places a great emphasis on physical fitness and health, and those who fall short of this mark, suffer greatly. Here are some basic definitions that, if followed, will help shed some light on what health really is.
According to the World Health Organization, “health is a state of full physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of sickness and disease.” Numerous definitions have also been applied to health, with varying degrees of definition and relevance over time. For instance, within the United States, a healthy life can mean much different things to different people. One commonly accepted but also controversial definition is reflected in the National Health Information Center’s statement that, in general, health means having the ability to conduct routine physical activities without restrictions, a level of perceived lack of limitation or the ability to engage in things that are deemed physically relaxing or enjoyable.
From this perspective, physical well-being is determined by both internal sources, such as nurture and environmental factors, as well as external sources, such as the types of food one eats, their levels of stress, and their relationship with exercise and activity. While it is difficult to isolate one’s own individual contributions to this concept of well-being, the strong relationship between physical environment and health is well recognized. A healthy environment can promote or deter health, depending upon the type of conditions found in a person’s surroundings. A polluted environment might promote or discourage physical activity, which could then contribute to poor health or disability. Likewise, a calm, relaxing surrounding may promote good health because of the low levels of stress and anxiety that would otherwise be experienced if one were to be surrounded by a high level of activity.
In addition to the physical realm, another important dimension of physical health and well-being is mental health, which encompasses the quality of one’s ability to enjoy one’s life and cope with daily stresses. Mental health includes one’s capacity to experience happiness and manage stress in a manner that is productive. In order to achieve full mental well-being, it is important to be in a position to effectively manage stress and the various environmental factors that can exacerbate it. While one cannot control the environment in which they live, they do have a great deal of control over the sources of stress they experience and how to manage them. Those with mental illness may therefore benefit from seeking treatment to assist them in managing their stress, although some people with mental illness will not necessarily require treatment.
According to Atkins, a diet consisting of a majority of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein is essential to maintaining a healthy body weight and physical condition. Atkins also maintains that healthy eating should comprise the small portion of one’s diet that comes from red meats, fatty fish, milk, and cheese. He argues that for those who wish to pursue a more physically active lifestyle, exercise should become an integral part of their lifestyle. Exercise should include a minimum of three times a week of cardiovascular exercise and one hour of weight-bearing activity such as running or using other resistance equipment such as weight machines.
As society continues to confront health challenges on multiple fronts, the importance of physical well-being should no longer be overlooked. The best solution for improving one’s health and wellness is to adopt a lifestyle that is consistent with what constitutes good health. Atkins recognizes that there are many different lifestyle choices one can make to improve their health. For those who are unfamiliar with what Atkins has to offer, a review of the book can provide insight into what it takes to maintain optimal health. Atkins encourages readers to be active and examine all available options so that they may lead a long, healthy, and productive life.