Achieving Healthy Living and Population Health

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “complete physical, emotional and social well being” and not just the absence of sickness and disease. Numerous definitions have also been used over the years. Some of them include emotional, mental, physical and social well being. The definition given by WHO is as follows: “A healthy lifestyle that combines with knowledge, tools and resources to promote the best possible health and well being.” It includes aspects such as education, awareness, research, practice, policy development and evaluation.

Many factors affect the well-being. These could be social, psychological or environmental in nature. Mental illness, for example, affects the whole body, mind and spirit. When it interferes with the proper functioning of the physical body, mental health is affected. Physical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity can cause poor physical and mental well-being.

To achieve good health and prevent diseases, there are several risk factors. These factors include age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, lifestyle and some environmental exposures. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, whole grains, low in saturated fats and salt is known to be effective in promoting the wellness. A lifestyle that includes physical activity, plenty of sleep, regular relaxation and proper dietary intakes is also essential in promoting wellness. A balanced diet can help in maintaining weight, blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.

Poor psychological well-being is associated with a number of diseases including depression, anxiety, stress and other disorders. The risk factors may also include family history, early life experiences and abuse, obesity, poor self-image and social network. Stress can increase the risk factors for both physical and mental illness. Illness and disability make people feel overwhelmed, anxious and angry. This can lead to depression that can progress into a full blown mental illness. Social isolation and poor communication skills are common among those who suffer from this condition.

To improve population health, it is important to reduce the social determinants of health such as stress, bad food choices and lack of exercise. Healthy lifestyles can promote better health and longevity. Changing behavior can change the physiological responses to stress. Changing individual behavior can change the social factors that determine health. This article focuses on healthy behaviors related to physical determinants of health and wellness.

Behavioral health services include smoking cessation programs, exercise programs, and dietary management programs. These have been shown to be effective in preventing and improving health status. Smoking cessation programs help people to stop and avoid tobacco use. Health education and awareness programs are another way to prevent illness. A well-informed population has lower incidence of disease conditions like heart disease. Individual behavior modification is a key factor in improving health services for everyone.