A vast difference exists between the words health and wellness. While most people consider these words to convey similar meanings, their definitions vary considerably. Health, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as, “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially freedom from physical disease or pain.” More simply put, health is a conditional state. A person can be in good health or bad health, based on their physical and emotional symptoms. As well, a person can alter the condition of their health by changing their habits for better or for worse. For example, if a person is considered unhealthy due to a weight problem or high blood pressure, they can start exercising, eating a healthy diet, and changing poor lifestyle habits. If this person eventually loses weight and lowers their blood pressure, the doctor may declare that they are now in good health. However, the term health is conditional. This person can easily slip back into a state of unhealthiness by returning to the habits that got them there in the first place.
On the other hand wellness is defined as, “the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal.” Wellness, unlike health which is conditional, is a continuous state of optimal health that is maintained through persistent effort. If health and wellness were designated as running terms, health would be a sprint and wellness a marathon. Wellness, like health, does account for the physical, emotional, and spiritual state of a person. However, wellness primarily refers to a person’s continual effort to strive for peak performance and overall well-being in the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms.
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