Defining Health


While disease-free life is a desirable goal, an absence of chronic disease is not necessarily a sign of good health. Instead, people should focus on disease management. The definition of health must encompass a wide spectrum of human functioning, and it should include a person’s ability to manage and overcome disease. Physical activity is also an important component of health, which can improve a person’s capacity to cope with life’s challenges. The goal of promoting health is to reduce the burden of disease and enhance the quality of life of people across the globe.

The concept of health has changed radically since 1950. In the 1950s, life expectancies globally were only 48 years for men and 53 for women. The polio and diphtheria epidemics had a profound impact on life expectancy. The prevalence of chronic diseases has also changed, and today heart disease, cancer, and stroke rank as the top three causes of death. However, life expectancy is still not high enough to combat the effects of these diseases.

Defining good health is a challenge because it depends on one’s environment. A fragile person who cannot handle physical hardships, for example, may suffer a heart attack in a mountainous environment. In the same way, a mountaineer suffering from scurvy, anemia, and shortness of breath might experience good health in a sea level area, but suffer from chronic disease if they move to a different environment. That is why an accurate definition of good health should account for this fact.

The medical model of health defines health in terms of disease-free life. While this can be helpful in determining a person’s physical condition, it is not a reliable measure of health. For example, a person may be in perfect health and yet still develop a chronic illness. The medical paradigm of health is not dependent on a person’s own subjective feelings and observations. If a person’s symptoms are consistent with the medical model, then the person is said to be healthy.

Regardless of genetic makeup, all people share some genes. Some individuals are born with genes that increase their chances of contracting a disease, while others inherit genes that make them susceptible to other diseases. Furthermore, the physical environment is a huge determinant of health, which may trigger illness in people who already have a genetic predisposition. A city’s physical environment, for example, can affect the levels of pollutants and germs, affecting the health of the entire population.

While individual physician practices and independent hospitals are not necessarily considered to be health systems, they are important components of a health system. In fact, a health system is a network of hospitals and physicians, and may employ community-based physicians. This is important because the health system is able to provide high quality care to its citizens. Further, health care is the foundation of society, and good health is a foundation for a healthy society. If people live in an area that lacks a hospital, they will not be as likely to seek medical care from a health care provider.