What Is Health Promotion?

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “good health” that is maintained through appropriate diet, regular exercise and proper hygiene. Different definitions have also been used over time for different medical purposes. In the US, the definition of “good” has more to do with an absence of illness and disease, while the definition of “unfit” has more to do with susceptibility to disease. The current emphasis on fitness and good health reflects our cultural values about appearance, wealth and status.

The challenge is to develop a set of physical behaviors and practices that promote health, thereby reducing the risks of diseases that can lead to death. A part of the challenge is to redefine the concepts of beauty, wealth and status, as these are typically associated with professional athletes. An additional challenge is the creation of healthy relationships between people who may already be physically healthy, but need to learn about how to prevent common diseases at lower risk factors. Health promotion begins with promoting healthy physical behaviors and practices at an individual level through a comprehensive system of health education, promotion of healthy diet and physical activity, and the provision of knowledge and support for maintaining a healthy body. Promoting and implementing quality programs for physical fitness in schools is another important component of this approach.

This type of education and promotion of healthy living practices are necessary to reduce morbidity and mortality due to disease. A state of complete physical, psychological and social well being is essential to the mental and emotional well being of an individual. This perspective should include the idea that disease is preventable, and that individual health, emotional and physical health can be restored. Prevention through education, behavior modification and public awareness promotes a higher probability of reaching a state of total well being. This article presents an overview of the concepts of health promotion.

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