What Does Health Mean to You?

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I thought for this article I would pose a question to you, that being: ‘What does health mean to you?’. My aim is to provoke a healthy questioning of your beliefs, thinking and habits around the topic of health, so you are clearer as to what it is for you, what importance you place to it and how to better align what you do towards it (should there be a mismatch in its importance and you current lifestyle/ actions).

To make sense of this question, we first need to explore what health is. So what is health? The Oxford dictionary defines health as: ‘the state of being well in body or mind’. There are various other definitions that exist. What I would like to add to the Oxford dictionary definition, is the understanding that mind and body are one (rather than one or the other, as the definition suggests). The key observation being the broad nature of these definitions of health, so in essence an individual’s interpretation of what health is to them will be their own definition.

Over the years I have helped many people build their health and well-being and I have observed a commonly accepted, almost default reference point for defining health to be the absence of a full blown disease condition. One observation I have seen is the scope and focus of the mainstream medical community on being on disease and ill health, be that prevention as well as management, not on achieving and protecting high levels of physical and mental health and vitality. Simple observations of the population show their challenge of maintaining even disease free levels of health in the population at large, with modern lifestyles, poor food habits, sedentary lifestyles etc, not exactly helping them in their efforts to achieve this.

You could suggest that their focus and objectives are orientated to achieving a level of health across as much of the population as possible to remain at a level of health as to not exceed physical disease marker parameters, which would result in the individual gaining a classification of having a disease and requiring ongoing medical intervention, almost; disease free, suggesting ‘healthy’, with a second population group, already with one or more disease labels to their name, where disease management is the objective.

This picture is likely to be compounded by a lack of attention, or importance placed on personal health by many, until their own health deteriorates to a point that it affects their daily lives? Or is it due to a lack of real health education, or indeed misinformation?

The way I look at health is more of a focus of striving toward optimal health, in which I would incorporate optimal physical function and performance, mental and emotional well-being, effective function of my body’s systems and organs, as well as health in peace of mind and spiritually, living with integrity and staying true to my values, so more of a balance of the whole person. Another view could be to be in good enough working order, so you can continue to do what you wish to in life without restriction.

I would invite you to think about what health means to you and maybe list the sub topics, or state what your experience would look like having health and let that form your own definition of health, thereby providing a reference point, a target to aspire to, of what health is to you.

What I like about this focus towards optimal health is that you are automatically aligning yourself to achieving health, it is defined for you, you can see, or imagine it. You can at your leisure look into finding out what you need to do in order to achieve, or maintain that reality, be that in information, working with a health professional or advice to help you in each area.

My belief is that this is a much more positive, empowering and proactive an approach than, going about your business until you become a ‘victim’ of disease, where an organ or system in the body has broken down, then trying to back-peddle and undo the damage and sort things out.

Many factors correlate to experiencing health, many or you could argue all of which are inter connected, for example I would say to achieve health physically we must be healthy mentally and emotionally and vice versa. Other areas that contribute to health include: stress, digestive function, detoxification capacity, appropriate physical exercise, posture, our food and fluid quality, sleep and recovery, life balance, internal emotional conflict, relationships, environmental, nutritional toxicity, and many more.

Whatever our own definition for what health is to us, I would invite you to make one decision, that you accept total responsibility for your health, that you and you alone are the architect of your own health. I would urge you not just to accept and rely on others, be that the general position stands on health, from central government, media or the mainstream medical industry to keep you out of harm’s way.

It only takes a short observation of the health of the population in general to support this point, just look around. Are we seeing a population enjoying dramatically better health and dramatic reductions in disease with the last few decades of medical advancement, huge cost and a multitude of health initiatives? If your health is of importance to you, I would suggest you seek out those with truly great health and vitality (using your definition of health) and see what they are doing. So in closing my rant/ topic for today, I invite you to define what health is to you.


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About the author, Shaun Mckeown: could be labeled as a performance strategist, or coach, or a life balance specialist. In essence Shaun is a strategic, creative problem solver, with a holistic view. He has over 15 years professional experience helping people with health, well-being, sport performance, reducing stress and life balance. He has a BSc.(Hons) degree in Sport and Exercise Science, as well as experience coaching and teaching in exercise conditioning, holistic lifestyle and nutrition, sport performance and Reiki. So has both science and holistic perspectives. 


The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Shaun Mckeown, disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.