The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Personal health refers to the health status or condition of a particular individual, how such individual takes care of his body in other to attain optimal health.
COMPONENT OF PERSONAL HEALTH
1. Physical Health
2. Mental Health
3. Emotional Health
4. Social Health
5. Spiritual Health
6. Environmental Health
FACTORS AFFECTING PERSONAL HEALTH
Individual health depends in part upon a number of factors that a person has control over, including diet, exercise, alcohol and drug use, and stress levels. Those born into families with a history of illness or disease, such as dementia or cancer, should pay special attention to whatever factors they can control in order to live the healthiest life possible.
According to WebMD.com, the average amount of sleep needed for teenagers and adults is seven to 10 hours a day. The consequences of too little sleep include "Memory problems, Depression, [and] A weakening of your immune system, increasing your chance of becoming sick" (WebMD.com). Sleep disturbance and deprivation are known to increase one's mortality risk faster than smoking and high blood pressure. Furthermore, actual sleep disorders often go undiagnosed while over 70 million Americans suffer from at least one of the 85 diagnosable sleep disorders.
High stress levels have been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, headaches and migraines, depression, erectile dysfunction and essential tremors. While all people experience stress from time to time, stress that occurs "too often or lasts too long...can have bad effects. It can be linked to headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse" (WebMD.com). First, one must learn how to recognize abnormally high stress levels, determine where the stress is coming from, then take practical steps to eliminate or reduce it.
3. Substance Abuse
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that "Alcohol affects every organ in the body. It is a central nervous system depressant...the liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, leaving the excess alcohol to circulate throughout the body" (CDC.gov). Binge drinking and other substance abuse can result in an increased risk of certain cancers, stroke and liver diseases. Substances that impair judgment also may give the user an exaggerated sense of self-confidence, which may result in dangerous activity such as drunk driving.
4. Activity Level
According to a survey done in 2008 published by the CDC, only 32.5 percent of U.S. adults engage in physical activity during their leisure time. Exercising regularly strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, strengthens bones, helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves sleep and improves circulation, among other things (WebMD.com). The recommended amount of exercise for optimal health is at least 20 to 30 minutes three or four times a week; however, individuals should seek their doctor's opinion based on their current weight and fitness level.
The Harvard School of Public Health states that "when all the evidence is looked at together...the best nutrition advice on what to eat is relatively straightforward: Eat a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; choose healthy fats, like olive and canola oil; and eat red meat and unhealthy fats, like saturated and trans fats, sparingly. Most important of all is keeping calories in check, so you can avoid weight gain". All people will require a unique amount of calories to maintain their ideal weight. See the Resources section for a personal diet evaluator provided by WebMD.com.
6. Lifestyle and Health
Lifestyle -- or a typical way of life, as health specialists often define it -- could affect an individual's health and life expectancy. An imbalanced diet or bad eating habits might cause a person to develop chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, down the road. A sedentary lifestyle -- or one with little exercise -- also might not foster good health and physical fitness. Other habits that could adversely affect a person's metabolism include consuming too much saturated fat and starch, abusing alcohol and using illicit drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Obesity also causes an individual to experience health problems and could lead to diseases and risky conditions including high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.
7. Smoking and Imbalanced Diet
Smoking adversely affects a person's metabolism and life expectancy. According to Dr. Gavin Petrie, cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances. The most damaging substances in cigarettes include tar, which causes cancer; nicotine, an additive that increases cholesterol levels in the body; and carbon monoxide, which reduces oxygen in the body.
An imbalanced diet -- the kind that results from eating high-calorie, high saturated fats and low-fiber food -- also could have a negative impact on a person's health. For example, fast food often contains higher calories and highly saturated fats that the body does not need. A high calorie diet and low-exercise lifestyle will be harmful to the body over time.
8. Natural Habitat
An individual's natural habitat -- the house or apartment where the person lives -- also can affect an individual's health. People who live close to manufacturing facilities or industrial settings are more likely to be exposed to chemicals and other hazardous substances -- such as nuclear residue, asbestos and radioactive materials -- that companies use in the production of goods.
9. Work Environment
Occupational pollution -- the other name for workplace pollution -- also can affect an individual's health. For example, workers could suffer from the extreme noise that production equipment generates or harsh chemicals used in cleaning processes. The skin and lungs are the most vulnerable to these effects. Dermatitis -- also known as skin inflammation -- can be caused by detergents and certain rubber chemicals. Inhaling flour or other substances used in bakeries, for example, might cause asthma.
Despite how healthy a person may be, there are certain conditions that "might be described as "running in a family" if more than one person in the family has the condition. Some disorders that affect multiple family members are caused by gene mutations, which can be inherited (passed down from parent to child)" (Genetics Home Reference.com). People with a history of a certain disease or illness in their family should pay special attention to how the lifestyle choices and environmental factors listed above affect them and take steps to minimize their risks.
How to Develop a Personal Health Plan
A personal health plan helps you identify your health needs, set goals for achieving them and monitor your success in moving toward a healthier you. The exact format of the plan is up to you. Make it something that is easy for you to use and access and that will neither overwhelm nor intimidate you. If you're on your computer a lot, then store the completed personal health plan on it and set up electronic reminders for your goal. If you're frequently at home, post it on your refrigerator. If you're on the go, put it into your smart phone.
1. Get a physical. Review all of the tests and ask your physician what health areas you need to work on. Request from her recommendations for activities and lifestyle changes that would contribute to your health. In most physicals, your doctor will check your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, respiration) and then examine your heart, lungs, head, neck/throat, stomach, reflexes, nerves, muscle strength, mental state, skin, nails and your extremities. If you are a man, the doctor will also examine your testicles, penis, prostate and test for hernias. If you are a woman, the doctor will conduct a breast and pelvic exam, including a pap smear. For both men and women, your doctor may run a urinalysis, blood count or chemistry panel. Physicians usually run cholesterol tests every five years.
2. List the areas for which you would like to set goals. These health-related areas might include exercise, medication and supplements, diet, sleep habits, skin care, body care or heart health.
3. Establish the benchmark you wish to achieve for each of these areas. Describe the ideal behavior or condition you would like to accomplish. For example, in the area of exercise, you may want to set a benchmark of strength training twice a week and aerobic exercise three times a week. The benchmark is where you would like to be.
4. Evaluate where your current performance is compared with the benchmarks you established. Write what your habits or condition is at this moment. For example, in the area of sleep habits, you might write that you currently sleep six hours a night and go to bed at a different time every day. Your current performance is where you are now.
5. Analyze the gap between your benchmark level and your current performance level. This gap identifies the areas that you need to work on and will help you to set goals for your personal health plan. It will also let you map your progress. If your benchmark for sleeping, for example, is that you want to get eight hours of sleep every night and be in bed no later than midnight, you could identify that the gap between your benchmark and your current performance is two hours of sleep and four days where you get to sleep after midnight. Your goal, then, will focus on how to get those extra two hours and how to change those four days. The gap is the difference between the benchmark and your current performance.
6. Brainstorm with a friend, medical care professional or family member about activities that you could do to help you reach your benchmark in each of the areas that you identified during your health assessment. For example, if you want to get five servings of fruit or vegetables into your diet every day and you are currently getting only three, you might do things such as keep fruit in a bowl on the table, add carrot sticks to your lunch bag or add a salad to your dinner.
7. Write three to five very specific goals for each of the areas where there was a gap between where you want to be and where you are now. Make sure you write out exactly what you want to achieve without being too general. For example, if you are trying to get to sleep earlier, you might write the goal, "Dim the lights in my room 30 minutes before bedtime."
8. Create a time line for each of your goals. Determine whether you want to achieve that goal within the next week, next month or next year. Make sure it is realistic to achieve the goal within that time frame. You would not want, for example, to set a goal that you will lose 30 pounds in one month or increase your daily run from a half mile to five miles in one week. A more realistic time frame would be to lose 30 pounds over six months or to increase your daily run by five minutes each day.
9. Identify the resources you will need to achieve your health goals. For example, if one of your goals is to ride a bike for 20 minutes every day, you will need to have a bicycle, bike helmet and a water bottle. Be sure to list intangible resources that you feel you will need as well such as the support of your family for a change in diet or the courage to ask for changes at work to lower your stress levels.
10. Create a checklist, spreadsheet or calendar to record your goals in a visual manner. You can also create reminder cards to put into your wallet, pin to a corkboard or put on the refrigerator shelves. The reminder card can either reprint your goal in total or be a reminder to pursue one of the activities that will get you closer to your goal. For example, a card in your wallet might say, "Drink milk instead of soda" or "Take the stairs instead of the elevator today."
11. Appoint one day each week where you will review your health plan. Give yourself 10 minutes on that day to reread your goals and see what your progress has been. Be prepared to make adjustments based on your activities that week. If you need to, give yourself more time, scale back your goal or add additional challenges.
12. Compare where you are on each goal with your benchmark. Consider making a graph where you can visually record your progress toward each goal. If you are proficient in spreadsheets, most spreadsheet programs will create a graph from a table. You may also be able to find programs on line that will let you create visual representations of your goal progress. Sites such as Chart Jungle offer several different goal charts.
13. Assess how you feel. As you achieve goals, check in with yourself to see whether you are feeling better and healthier. Are the goals helping you make your health better? If, for example, you have weaned yourself off of caffeine, do you feel more alert? Do you have fewer headaches? Are you able to sleep better?
14. Visit your doctor regularly. Get a physical at least annually and review your health plan with your doctor. Get his advice on how to make progress toward your goals. You may also need to visit the doctor more often than yearly if your goals are related to such things as lowering blood pressure, changing your blood sugar levels or trying to wean yourself off a particular medication.
How Peer Pressure Can Affect Your Personal Health
Peers are people that a child, adolescent or adult identifies with. A peer can influence, persuade and coerce you to do certain things or act a certain way in order to be accepted. Even though often perceived as negative, peer pressure can also affect a person in a positive manner. Your personal health can improve or decline depending on how you handle peer pressure.
1. Pressure to Smoke
Many teens have to deal with peer pressure to smoke. Their friends smoke and if they don't join in the unhealthy behavior, they risk not being accepted. According to the Teen Help website, 440,000 people in the United States die yearly from smoke-related diseases. Ninety percent of these people started smoking in their teens. Regardless of your age, smoking can cause lung cancer and lung disease and it increases your risk for coronary heart disease and stroke.
2. Pressure to Drink Alcohol
The pressure to drink alcohol can affect people of all ages. Teens may be pressured into drinking by their alcohol-drinking peers and adults may feel pressure to drink during after-work social gatherings. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, consuming alcohol at a young age may affect brain and organ development and drinking can cause liver damage and liver failure in people of all ages.
3. Pressure to Have Sex
The peer pressure to have sex at an early age can increase a teen's stress level. According to Psychology Today, one in three boys and 23 percent of girls between the ages of 15 to 17 deal with peer pressure to have sex. If a teenager has low self-esteem he may be more prone to have sex at an early age. Having sex too early can trigger emotional problems and physically teens can contract sexually transmitted diseases and get pregnant.
4. Pressure to Improve Health
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute states that being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and hypertension. If your diet consists mostly of unhealthy, fatty foods and you are not getting any exercise, peer pressure can actually help improve your health. If you have one or more friends that eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise, they may influence you to do the same. By following their healthy behavior, you can lose weight. Once you switch to a healthy diet and start exercising, your peers will cheer you on and motivate you to keep going.
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