Healthy Tips

What Does Healthy Mean?

An Expanding Definition for Your Lifestyle

Are you healthy? How you answer that question depends on how you define health. In 1948, the World Health Organization offered this characterization: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absences of disease or infirmity.”

Thirteen years later, wellness entered the healthcare vocabulary, defined as “a state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual's potential.”

Today, health and wellness are used together to refer to a range of topics related to one’s lifestyle and self. As people increasingly turn to an instinctual understanding of their health based on feeling good, the boundaries of health continue to expand to encompass the needs of the mind, body and soul.

Health is…


Everyone wants to feel better. Feeling good, mentally, emotionally and physically, is the most basic understanding we have of our health. It is the indicator of concern and the launching point for improvement. Personalized health options make feeling good easier and the information more accessible, whether for a sports fan or an avid runner, a traveler or the parent of a picky eater.


People are naturally inclined to compare themselves to their peers. Comparing your lifestyle to others in your community is a common way of gauging your health. This creates health trends and redefines what society considers healthy habits. In this context, healthy might be yoga, shopping at a natural food store or biking to work.

When it comes to a socially informed definition, it’s imperative that you consult with a healthcare professional before adopting new habits. Some trends, such as detox cleanses, may not be as healthy as their reputation suggests.


No matter your definition of health, your care provider can be an incredibly valuable partner for achieving your goals. Choosing a primary care physician can be as personal as defining health for yourself and finding a professional to align your wellness goals with your physical and medical needs is vital.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly,” says Daniel O’Malley, DO, a family medicine physician with Northwestern Medicine. “A primary care physician will work with you to keep you healthy and free of disease because there is nothing more important than our good health; it’s our principle asset.”


As the parameters of health begin to include mind and soul, people are pursuing a more mindful understanding of the field. Yoga may be your workout of choice, but it’s also an opportunity to support mental health and develop meditation and relaxation techniques. Meditation lowers the blood pressure and thickens the brain’s cortex but it also improves self-awareness, self-control and focus. Increased attention to the balance of the self, the needs of the soul and a spiritual component are on the table too. Healthy is combining the medical science and alternative wellness.

Taking care of yourself is a holistic pursuit. Emotional health and wellness draw attention and care to balance and the soul as people increasingly pursue alternative methods to complement their primary medical care.


Being healthy is more than not being sick. Which means living a healthy life requires a bit more work. It involves examining your habits and taking the initiative to improve all areas of your life. And like any task in the 21st century, technology is here to help. Seventy-five percent of people own fitness-focused consumer products and a little tech help offers support for all definitions of your health.


Healthy is more than an attribute, healthy is a lifestyle – it defines your habits. From regular exercise to routine screenings, good health is a non-negotiable part of your life. Seeking regular support and treatment to improve your health, from physical therapy to dermatology, is more common than ever before.


Living healthy is relative to the life you’re leading. Feeling good is a personal definition and finding a healthy balance in your activities, nutrition and emotional needs will vary by person.

As health evolves to encompass more and more parts of our lifestyle, healthy becomes relative to the person defining it. Certain core foundations will remain universal, but one person may define a healthy life as constant improvement, someone else as self-care. Still another may say living better, and another living longer.

Never exactly at odds and often times variations on one theme, healthy is a concept relative to your personal needs, social sphere and level of involvement.