Body: What Price Health?

   The definition of health according the World Health Organisation, is as follows: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (WHO 1948).

Although health is an experience which is unique to individuals we all have a common understanding of what it is and what it is not. Optimum health varies from individual to individual it is very much dependent upon our starting point, for example a chronic illness or disability can alter one’s personal definition of health and wellbeing.

Preamble aside, we would all do well to consider what good health looks like and if we are far from the mark, it would help to answer the following questions:
I will share with you my own thoughts and perhaps this will help you to answer the above questions for yourself.

My Personal Definition of Health
I am mindful that by virtue of developing a site which I quote ”aims to provide practical guidance on ways to improve emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing from a Christian perspective”. My personal definition originates from a belief that god created us in his own image and that the original state of man was a state of man was a state of perfection of all emotional, physical and spiritual faculties. That is the official line and I would do well to practice what I preach.

Dear reader, I have a confession- I am not as healthy as I could be. I like the idea of health and I really enjoy healthy wholesome food but as the good book say in Matthew 26:41 “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. There are some health challenges that I have not yet conquered and recent bouts of ill health have acted as a wake up call. I also like the idea of exercise but I have not managed to develop a routine that works for me. Our bodies are so forgiving and longsuffering. It is a sophisticated machine. We are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and many of us, myself included, take this fact for granted. My report card should state “tries hard but could do better if she applies herself”.

How Healthy Am I?
I know age takes its toll and the natural wear and tear on our body parts means that over time, damage to our cells, tissue, organs and joints can lead to illness, a general deterioration and eventual death. A previous article: “6 Keys to Health Improvement”, outlined important physiological conditions for sustaining health. In this article, I would add factors that improve our spiritual and emotional health as we know holistic health is important and there both an inter-relationship and an interdependency between the physical, emotional and physical aspects of health. For example depression can lead to a loss of appetite and if left unchecked, can affect physical health. With regards to spiritual wellbeing, last month’s Hopecalls Mind article focused upon research relating to the efficacy of prayer on physical and emotional heath.

Where Am I Going Wrong?
Despite there being a universal understanding about what health is, it is clear that that health is more complex and multi-faceted that we are led to believe. There are many factors that impact upon our health and wellbeing and any one or a combination of these can have an adverse effect upon our health and contribute to ill health. Below is a checklist of 20 factors to consider when evaluating your health status:
  1. Diet and nutrition
  2. Exercise
  3. Rest / sleep
  4. Social relationships/influence of others
  5. Stress/mental health
  6. Environmental factors e.g. pollution, overcrowding for example
  7. Immune health
  8. Genetic factors / predisposition
  9. Interest and understanding of health
  10. Stimulants, narcotics, harmful substances in food
  11. Hygiene
  12. Upbringing and influence of care-givers
  13. Under / over eating
  14. Physiological factors
  15. Health beliefs
  16. Socio-economic status- poverty and affluence
  17. Spiritual wellbeing
  18. Medication / supplement use
  19. Current health status and underlying illnesses
  20. Self control
What Price Do I Place on My Health? Health is one of the few things in our lives (physical health and mental capacity considered) that we have some control over. Although we can’t always choose the extent to which we can become healthy, we can choose to improve our health. The Chinese proverb “the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step” can be aptly applied to our health. First if you like me, agree that the gift of health is priceless then you can begin to treat it as such.

We can all make a first step in health improvement by looking at where we might be going wrong. As we begin to reflect on our current state of health and what we would like it to be, we may see possibilities for improving our health and wellbeing open up. If you don’t know where to begin ask someone who you consider to be healthy and health conscious, how they do it. Research and read books on health and nutrition to find out how you can improve your health. Identify what works for you; taking into account your personal preferences and lifestyle choices. As you begin to think about all the options you have for becoming healthier, set goals for yourself. Little by little with determination and perseverance, you will begin to make improvements that can be built upon over time. Before you know it you will become healthier and happier. I am challenging myself to practice what I preach, why not join me?

©, 2013 (all rights reserved)

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