One way of understanding health is to consider it as having three components, as follows:
A/ Emotional or Mental health (Healthy thoughts & attitudes)
B/ Structural Health (The health of the body is structurally sound ‑the bones, muscles, organs etc. are physically in good condition ‑not damaged ‑performing the functions they should perform)
C/ Chemical Health (The chemicals in our body are correct ‑there are no toxic chemicals ‑the tissues are made up of the appropriate balance of nutrients etc.).
Often mainstream health care medicine may focus only on some of these components; but for the best health outcomes, a more holistic approach is important.
People who are usually inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis. Also, physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits. It is important to remember that greater health benefits can be achieved by increasing the amount (duration, frequency or intensity) of physical activity.
Regular physical activity that is performed on most days of the week reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illness and death. Government departments involved in health such as the Department of Health generally outline recommendations of physical activity for different groups (generally divided by age). Most common groups are infants, children, young people, adults and older adults.
Regular physical activity improves health in the following ways:
- reduces the risk of dying prematurely
- reduces the risk of dying from heart disease
- reduces the risk of developing diabetes
- reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure
- helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure
- reduces the risk of developing colon cancer
- reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
- helps control weight
- helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
- helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling
- promotes psychological well-being
The hazards of being inactive are clear and discussed frequently in various media. Physical inactivity is a serious, global problem. Its scope poses a public health challenge for reducing the national burden of unnecessary illness and premature death.
To avoid soreness and injury, individuals contemplating an increase in physical activity should start out slowly and gradually build up to the desired amount to give the body time to adjust. People with chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, or who are at high risk for these problems should first consult a physician before beginning a new programme of physical activity. Also, men over age 40 and women over age 50 who plan to begin a new vigorous physical activity programme should consult a physician first to be sure they do not have heart disease or other health problems.
Social Factors Can Matter
There are quite a few social or societal factors that can affect the status of a person’s level of both health and fitness. Health is a state of wellbeing and freedom from disease that is perceived by a person. Fitness can be seen as the relative ability of an individual or population to survive and reproduce in a given environment.
Social factors may include:
- accepted body types and images
- food types and availability
- substance use/abuse
- sexual attitudes/behaviour
- employment status
- medical supplies availability
Some cultures or societies view body types and images as a factor relative to health, for instance weight is seen as a positive thing in cultures where food is scarce and some countries and societies weight and especially obesity is not only seen as something that is undesirable, but also a threat to the health of an individual.
Also some countries view fitness or the level of reproduction, in different ways. Some cultures encourage and respect higher birth amounts in families and other cultures do not feel this way.
Also the types of food that are consumed in different cultures and societies can affect the health and wellbeing of an individual. Eating junk food which can be seen as status is some societies can be detrimental for the health of the individual and society. Just look at all the children who think it is great to super size that meal. Obesity can be looked at like a social factor in health and wellbeing when it comes to eating what is being viewed as being positive or that shows affluence.
The effects also of a culture and the types of food and climate that they live in can also affect health and longevity. Certain societies that are isolated have found that they have a longer average lifespan than most. Studies have looked at the factors involved and find not only eating patterns played a part, but also that their attitudes and behaviours also are a facet of the entire picture. In this culture they physically work hard on their land as well as their lives being very constant and in this case there is very little “added” stress in their life. They have stresses, but they are socially accepted and acknowledged and people just see it as part of life. They also eat according to what is in season and fresh.
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