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What is Health?

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What is health? A neighbor suffers from arthritis, yet feels perfectly healthy otherwise

What is health? A neighbor suffers from arthritis, yet feels perfectly healthy otherwise. A friend complains about PMS, says she feels irritable, depressed and fatigued, but considers this to be normal. A relative is given a clean bill of health by the doctor, but does not feel well at all. Health holds different meanings for different people, and yet it ranks high in importance for everyone.

Simply put, health is a kind of freedom. Ideally, health would allow the neighbor with arthritis to enjoy a walk in the park without pain and the friend to be free of PMS. The relative could enjoy the doctor's statement of health, knowing and feeling well and healthy. Health allows a person to enjoy a long, full life without the need for drugs or hospitalization.

Since everyone is constantly adapting to a changing environment, no one can enjoy optimal health all the time. Better stamina and overall health can be achieved just by living a healthy lifestyle, which supports the body's efforts to restore and maintain its natural vitality and strength. Our body provides us with a natural ability to fend off illness physically, emotionally and mentally. When we are healthy we are resistant to disease and recover quickly from injury, illness and emotional trauma. When this natural resistance breaks down, health declines. This weakness becomes obvious by the recurrence of infections, a greater sensitivity to stress or a noticeable drop in energy. It may not be obvious until serious illness occurs. Although resistance to disease is highly individual, eating junk food once or twice, or missing a night's sleep or a few days of physical activity will not cause immunity to decline. Rather, it is through years of mistreatment that the body's natural resistance can collapse, leaving the body more susceptible to illness.

A balanced lifestyle is essential to achieving and maintaining overall health. The body is a living fabric, highly adaptable to changing circumstances and continually striving to maintain, compensate for and restore health. As part of its daily program, the body destroys germs, defends itself from the cold and heat, and eliminates toxic wastes. Supporting the body's natural need to maintain balance makes a remarkable difference to health.

For a variety of different reasons, many people do not like to assume responsibility for their own health. Most would rather be cured with a few pills than take on the responsibility of eating a healthier diet or committing to regular exercise. Of course, the body's ability to defend itself depends partly on individual genetic make-up and partly on the environment around it. People also need sufficient nutrition, clothing and shelter, not only from the weather, but also from toxic materials in the environment. Supporting a healthy world is part of the responsibility of maintaining health.

The body's resistance rests largely on our individual choices about where to live, what to eat and how to find a balance between challenging activity, stress and rest, as well as the cultivation of emotional and spiritual well-being. In short, health is achieved when the body, mind and spirit are in balance.

Healthy living is a way of life, not a temporary change in routine. Healthy living means recognizing your body's signals before you become ill, and being able to prevent illness by being aware of your personal weaknesses. You can improve your health by reducing risk factors and knowing when your body is most susceptible. Also, setting a sensible pace that suits your personal lifestyle is just as important as making those changes. Replacing a bad habit with a good one is not so difficult, provided you believe in what you are doing and take on goals that are realistic. Sometimes, only the appearance of a serious health problem provides the motivation to live a healthier lifestyle. Although the natural strength of the body can be restored after illness has set in, most illnesses are much easier to prevent than they are to treat.

There is a growing movement toward natural health and responsible living. The benefits of natural health can be clearly seen in the vitality of those who have chosen a healthy lifestyle.

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