Wellness versus prevention or promotion?

By Dr. Josh Palgi


The current emphasis on wellness in the United States began around 1958 when Dr. Halbert L. Dunn introduced the concept of wellness.

Wellness was viewed by Dr. Dunn as an ever changing lifelong adventure- much more than the absence of disease. In the 1960’s wellness was supported by President John F. Kennedy. The term “New Wellness“ had its beginning in the 1980’s with the interest of the couch potato” when he appointed Arnold Schwarzenegger as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. He said that each person can be a leader in the physical fitness movement and the 1990’s indicated that. Wellness is a way of life and an ongoing process.

The definition of wellness varies from person to person. Some measure wellness by quality of life, others by being disease free. It may mean feeling good when you get up in the morning, or getting a good score on a test.

In general, the term wellness encompasses a dimension of health and involves all aspects of a person’s lifestyle. It includes:

Intellectual Wellness: The ability to learn and act on information effectively.

Social Wellness: The ability to interact successfully with people and one’s personal environment.

Spiritual Wellness: Provides meaning and direction in life and enables one to grow, learn and meet new challenges.

Emotional Wellness: The ability to control stress and excess emotions appropriately and comfortably.

Environmental Wellness: The ability to promote health measures that influence the standard of living and quality of life.

The vision and mission today is to promote the understanding of the dynamic factors that contribute to health and well-being as they emerge through research and practice.

The idea is to to share and develop strategies to positively influence those factors that support healthy balanced lifestyles, and to serve the professional organizations that promote optimal health and wellness in individuals and communities.

It should be our responsibility to achieve a high level of wellness through lifetime behavior. These include regular exercise, proper nutrition, stress management, weight control, an absence of smoking or drug use, and maintenance of a satisfying emotional and social lifestyle.

It is time that more Americans realize that good health and wellness are a responsibility that we have to ourselves, to each other and to our communities.Wellness is a matter of making intelligent decisions. It demands commitment, and involves changing ones’ attitudes and belief.

Therefore, through emphasizing health promotion instead of disease prevention, we help to maintain and strengthen our independence and productivity in our quest toward becoming optimal functioning individuals in today’s society.

Now is the perfect time to start incorporating wellness into your day to day routine.

For more information about the Wellness Institute visit www.nationalwellness.org, e-mail nwc@nationalwellness.org or call 715-342-2969.

Dr. Josh Palgi is a professor in Kean’s Physical Education, Health and Recreation Department.

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