Health is a condition where illness and physical infirmity are completely absent. Different definitions have been applied to the term in different contexts over the course of time. However, the concept remains a universal one, regardless of the context. In other words, health is subjective in nature.
The quality of health in the general population has improved dramatically in recent decades. Life expectancy has improved in most countries and is now higher than in most of the developed world. Life expectancy has been climbing steadily since the 1970s. This rise in life expectancy has been accompanied by improvements in nutrition and sanitation, with the other benefits of economic growth taking the limelight in most discussions. It appears that in the developed world, physical well-being has become a priority for health conscious people.
Unfortunately, this improvement in life expectancy has not translated into a reduction in sickness and disease, and a rise in overall mental health. Many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer remain relatively prevalent. Similarly, while death rates from killer cancers have declined, deaths from non-diseases have continued to rise. While all these problems are troubling, perhaps the biggest challenge to the general public in terms of mental well-being is the fact that the regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to acknowledge that there is still much work to be done in fighting mental illnesses, particularly in developing countries.
Many people would agree that the best way to improve health is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity is important for a variety of reasons, including reducing stress, promoting general health, and improving mental health. In addition, research has shown that regular exercise reduces depression and anxiety, and improves overall physical health. Regular exercise also has other beneficial effects such as reducing the risk of prostate cancer, reducing blood pressure, and decreasing the chances of developing cardiovascular disease as an adult.
However, simply making lifestyle choices can help prevent chronic diseases and sicknesses from developing. For example, a diet low in saturated fat, sugar, and salt, and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish can help prevent cardiovascular disease, especially in adults over age 50. A healthy weight management program can help improve overall health. Finally, a sedentary lifestyle, including lack of physical activity, can exacerbate the development of communicable diseases such as influenza and HIV/AIDS. Changing one’s lifestyle choices can therefore have significant benefits for the quality of life.
In developed countries, a good diet and healthy lifestyle choices can help to keep chronic conditions at bay, and prevent many fatalities from illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Many researchers agree that a combination of a healthy diet and reduced stress levels, as well as a reasonable amount of physical activity, are the most effective ways to prevent serious health conditions. Many individuals may find it difficult to make these lifestyle choices, given their economic situation and other environmental factors. One can overcome financial obstacles by enrolling in a diet and exercise plan, which will teach them how to eat a diet low in saturated fats and sodium, while increasing their physical activity. Finally, getting involved in community organizations and participating in recreational activities can also help to overcome some of the environmental factors that may be keeping one away from a healthy diet and active lifestyle.