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Health can be seen as a multifaceted dimension of human life, and as a

‘Reserve stock’ (Blaxter 2003, 2004) of vitality, fitness and strength

(Whether psychological or physical or both): which individuals can draw upon, to
pursue their goals and actions. From a sociological viewpoint health can be seen as
both ‘attribute’ and ‘relation’, simultaneously involving biological and social factors.
This suggests a dynamic view of health and illness, changing across biographical
and historical time. The experience of health, both good and poor, is likely to be
influenced by the circumstances into which people are born and the contexts and
actions which prevail at different stages of life. Health and illness thus take us to a
crucial intersection of biography and history.

The English word "health" comes from the Old English word hale, meaning
"wholeness, a being whole, sound or well,". Hale comes from the Proto-Indo-
European root kailo, meaning "whole, uninjured, of good omen". Kailo comes from
the Proto-Germanic root khalbas, meaning "something divided". Medilexicon's
medical dictionary has three definitions for health, the first being "The state of the
organism when it functions optimally without evidence of disease or abnormality"
(click here to read the other two).


Type: Term

Pronunciation: helth


1. The state of the organism when it functions optimally without evidence of disease
or abnormality.

2. A state of dynamic balance in which an individual's or a group's capacity to cope

with all the circumstances of living is at an optimal level.

3. A state characterized by anatomic, physiologic, and psychological integrity, ability

to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with
physical, biologic, psychological, and social stress; a feeling of well-being, and
freedom from the risk of disease and untimely death

What is Physical Health?

by Ron Kurtus (revised 22 September 2002)

Physical health is the overall condition of a living organism at a given time, the
soundness of the body, freedom from disease or abnormality, and the condition of
optimal well-being. People want to function as designed, but environmental forces
can attack the body or the person may have genetic malfunctions. The main concern
in health is preventing injury and healing damage caused by injuries and biological

Questions you may have about what health is include:

•How does health relate to the function of the body?

•What about getting sick or injured?

•How is healing related to health?

Functioning as designed

Each one of us was born with a body that is a highly complex mechanism. It is
amazing that it operates as well as it does. Good health is really defined as being
able to function according to the way the body has been designed to function.

No one is perfect

Unfortunately, no one is perfect and many people have defects in their bodies. Some
people have defects that can be life-threatening. Fortunately, the body can
compensate for defects and a person may easily live a long life with a body that is
only partially functioning. An example is how a blind person or crippled person can
compensate for the handicap and simply turn it into a challenge.


Not only should the all the body parts work well and work together, they also need
proper nutrition for energy and to continue to operate effectively. In general, humans
and animals seem to be able to tell what foods their bodies need to function properly
and to be healthy.
Unfortunately, there are foods that can be harmful, but yet fool the brain in saying
they are good for you. At the extreme, there are addictive drugs. But there are also
salty, fatty, and sugary food that both humans and animals love, but that can be
harmful to the health and nutritional needs of the being.


If you have a Ferrari sports car, it does it no good to be driving it to and from the
supermarket. The car was made for high speeds. Likewise with your body. It was
made to be used.

The human body was made to be physically active. The heart needs to pump fast
once in a while to keep its muscle tone. Your lungs need exercise to function the way
they were made to function. Exercise and using the body is important to maintaining
your health.

Being attacked or injured

It is a fact that our bodies are constantly under attack from our environment.
Sometimes it is under attack even from ourselves. The body has defenses against
these attacks.


Germs, bacteria, molds, and viruses may attack parts of our bodies, trying to infiltrate
and use the body as a home or source of food. Not only can they destroy our cells,
but they often may release poisons that can harm our whole being.

Cleanliness is one defense against disease. Also, the body creates internal defenses
against specific bacteria and viruses. In fact, because the body builds up these
defenses, there is a question whether being too clean is actually good for you,
because you may then not develop the natural defenses needed to maintain your


Injury to parts of our body can come from attacks by animals or other people, or they
can occur through an accident.
Caution is the best defense against injury. Carelessness or ignorance often results in


Ingesting the wrong material can poison a person. Sometimes poisons are subtle
parts of the environment, such as smog or drugs.

Being aware of potential poisons is an important defense. Sometimes environmental

poisoning is unavoidable, since you may not even realize it is happening to you. In
many communities, people spread poisons on their lawns to kill insects and then let
their children play on the lawn, often resulting in problems years down the road.


A major part of health concerns healing. After you have become sick or injured, your
body will fight the disease and then attempt to heal the wounds. Although there are
some drugs that can relieve pain, the major part of healing is natural.

Protecting against further attacks or injury and being in good health helps the healing


Health is when your body functions as it is supposed to. You need nutrition and
exercise to maintain your health. Your body defends against illness and disease, but
you must use caution to avoid injury and poison. If you are healthy, you will heal

The prevention package

As health and well-being are major concerns for people in later years the health
prevention package forms the Department of Health’s main contribution to the
government’s ageing strategy Building a society for all ages, which was launched on
13 July 2009 by Phil Hope, Minister of State for Care Services and Angela Eagle,
Minister of State for Pensions and an Ageing Society.
The prevention package:
• brings together information on existing health ‘entitlements’ including sight
tests, flu vaccination and cancer screening;
• promotes best practice around falls prevention and effective fracture
• introduces measures to improve access to affordable footcare services;
• updates national intermediate care guidance;
• summarises existing progress on audiology and telecare.