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In conversation: What is health and wellness?Posted: August 4, 2012

By Carol Gordon

As this is the first of my articles pertaining to health and wellness, I felt it is appropriate to begin by exploring what these words, that are so personal and are used so frequently in our lives, actually mean.

In my Google searches, I went to the websites of the United Nation’s World Health OrganizationMedilexicon (contains medical searches, news and resources for medical, pharmaceutical and healthcare professionals), Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Wikipedia. Here is what I found:


In The Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization, adopted in 1946, health is defined as: “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The Medilexicon defines health as:
“1. The state of the organism when it functions optimally without evidence of disease or abnormality.
2. A state of dynamic balance in which an individual’s or a group’s capacity to cope with all the circumstances of living is at an optimal level.
3. A state characterized by anatomic, physiologic, and psychological integrity, ability to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with physical, biologic, psychological, and social stress; a feeling of well-being, and freedom from the risk of disease and untimely death.”


Now for a look at how wellness, which is a word which became popular during the 1970’s, is defined:

Wellness is a new word in the World Health Organization dictionary and is defined as:

“…the optimal state of health of individuals and groups.  There are two focal concerns: the realisation of the fullest potential of an individual physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually and economically, and the fulfillment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings.”

Mosby’s Medical Dictionary defines wellness as: “… a dynamic state of health in which an individual progresses toward a higher level of functioning, achieving an optimum balance between internal and external environments.”

The Medilexicon defines wellness as: “A philosophy of life and personal hygiene that views health as not merely the absence of illness but the full realization of one’s physical and mental potential, as achieved through positive attitudes, fitness training, a diet low in fat and high in fiber, and the avoidance of unhealthful practices (smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, overeating).”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines wellness as “…the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal <lifestyles that promote wellness>.

Wikipedia: “Wellness is generally used to mean a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being. The term has been defined by the Wisconsin-based National Wellness Institute ‘as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.’…Wellness is a view of health that emphasizes the state of the entire being and its ongoing development…Wellness can also be described as ‘the constant, conscious pursuit of living life to its fullest potential.’”

I will leave you with these definitions to ponder. Please feel free to comment.  In my next piece, I will take this discussion further.

Carol Gordon is a wellness consultant, writer/photographer, artist and entrepreneur. She has called the Columbia Valley her home part-time since 1981 and full-time since 1999.;                                                                             


One Response to In conversation: What is health and wellness?

  1. Yep, health and wellness are inextricably intertwined. I’m actively working on achieving both, though it often seems the health is the easier part of the equation!

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