Well here we are at Part 5 of this series on the dimensions of health. We ended Part 4 with a promise to explore the very determinants of physical health. So that is what we shall do.
Recall that last time we noted that physical health related quite simply to the body and that a state of health was akin to being normal. We further noted that normal could be understood in both statistical and functional terms. It is worth knowing that normal doesn’t mean perfect.
I want to remind everyone following this series that we are deliberately taking a western, and therefore somewhat unavoidably, reductionist approach at this stage. This means that over time we will establish a catalog of related and explored concepts and have a view of health that details several dimensions largely in isolation from one another. Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to stitch the dimensions into one whole again later.
Well lets dive right in. The determinants of physical health are fairly well known I think. They are:
- fresh air
- pure water
- measured direct sunlight
- nutritious foods offering all required nutrients
- safety from physical harm
- regular strenuous exercise
- adequate rest
- regular quality sleep
- concurrent health in the other dimensions
I could write volumes on each of these 10 basic determinants of health, but not in this current series! What I will say is that anything that detracts from any one or more of these foundations supporting physical health really does undermine wellbeing.
You cannot achieve and sustain robust good health if you fail to maintain these 10 determinants. Each and every departure from them will weaken your health position. We don’t want that.
Take fresh air for example. Many large city dwellers breathe a constant virtual soup of polluted air. Is that undermining their health? You bet it is. Mind you, some country folk become regularly exposed to high levels of dust and sometimes smoke from fires, agricultural chemical vapours and other pollutants, so they are not always much better off. The clean country air is not always so clean.
What about your water supply? Are you satisfied that it is pure water you’re drinking? Maybe it is so treated that it tastes like a chemical concoction; maybe it is not treated enough and remains contaminated with various things, natural and human-made. Perhaps you replace too much of your required pure water intake with coffee or tea or soda. Remember that every departure from pure water places an extra burden on your body and may undermine your physical health.
I’m going to leave this here for now and let you think through the remaining eight items on our list. See if you can come up with some ideas about how they relate to your health and wellbeing. Try asking yourself if you can detect any gap between what you believe is required in each area and what you are currently experiencing.
In Part 6 I will briefly consider the remaining eight areas so you will have something to compare your own notes with. I will also introduce the sometimes misunderstood notion of physical fitness, since people regularly confuse fitness and health. Don’t forget to do your homework and we can move forward with Part 6 soon.