On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

The Difference Between Health and Wellness (& Why It Matters!)

Often used interchangeably, health and wellness do have some variances. Find out the difference between health and wellness, why it matters, and how to achieve both!

The Difference Between Health and Wellness (& Why It Matters!)

When people think of health and wellness, they often combine and use them interchangeably.

However, and while the two concepts are quite variable, you cannot really have one without the other. 

So, what actually is the difference between health and wellness? Let's get to know health and wellness definitions separately, how they coexist, and just how to improve each.

What Is Health and Wellness?

Understanding health and wellness begins by isolating their respective definitions. 

Health Definition

Defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Furthermore, the primary determinants of health include social, economic, and physical environments. Health also includes someone's individual characteristics and behaviors without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic, or social condition.

Wellness Definition

The WHO defines wellness as "the optimal state of health for individuals and groups" and is also expressed as "a positive approach to living." According to Merriam-Webster, wellness is "the quality of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal."

Cohesively, wellness is an active and dynamic process of change and growth to reach one's fullest potential and aims to enhance overall wellbeing. Wellness also comprises eight different components, including emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual wellness.

The Difference Between Health and Wellness (and Why It Matters)

According to health and wellness definitions, wellness has a direct influence on overall health, which is essential for living a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. The primary difference between health and wellness is that health is the goal and wellness is the active process of achieving it.

Knowing the distinction between the two matters for a number of reasons. For one, while we cannot always choose the state of our health, we do have the conscious choice to make active decisions towards wellness. 

The following scenarios can help you better grasp health vs wellness:

Health: A predisposition to heart disease, diagnosis of type I diabetes at an early age, or an unexpected brain injury.

Wellness: Making the choice to eat a balanced diet, exercise more often, and schedule regular doctor visits.

Furthermore, most people attribute achieving a set number on the scale that dictates health. Yet, as previously highlighted, you cannot truly have health without first achieving wellness. 

Before setting personal goals for health, ask what you really want out of your new sought out transformation. Considering the following questions can help guide goals:

• Why do you truly want to lose weight?
• How will making positive changes impact your life?
• Are you doing it for yourself or trying to satisfy others?
• Is this a short-term or long-term goal?
• Which areas in your life do you want to focus on?
• What sort of support system do you have?

Ultimately, knowing what you truly want from health and wellness can help drive a personal plan that works best for you.

7 Tips to Improve Health and Wellness

Sustainability relies on actively improving within the different components of wellness. These tips can help nurture an ongoing basis.

1. Eat Whole Foods

Diet tends to be primarily viewed to impact physical health. However, food has a well-understood link between food and mental health, including boosting memory and improving mood.

A natural way to ensure adequate nutrients is by consuming whole foods rather than boxed and processed products. Balancing the diet with whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fats.

Utilizing bistroMD is also a sure way to include whole foods in the diet. Each meal is balanced with adequate protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, and healthy fat to support a healthy weight and weight loss. All meals also nourish the body for optimal health while alleviating the stress of meal prep.

2. Exercise Regularly

Exercise stimulates a healthy mind and body and the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity weekly. Regular exercise helps lower blood pressure, manage weight, boost mental health, amongst other benefits.

Also break away from the monotony of a structured workout regimen, as the highest importance is dismissing a sedentary lifestyle. Increase activity in your day by walking the dog, hiking with friends, and taking the steps over an elevator.

Walking and biking whenever possible also not only emboldens both physical and mental health but supports environmental wellness by reducing fuel emission. 

(And not to mention, saving on gas money!)

3. Embrace Mental Exercises, Too

Most people do not consider mental exercises when they are trying to get fit physically. However, these types of activities can actually help you achieve your goals more sufficiently and boost brainpower!

Tackling daily brain exercises - think puzzles, learning new skills, etc. - helps support intellectual wellness. Practicing yoga or other combinations of mental and physical activities can help promote a better attitude towards weight loss.

4. Achieve Quality Sleep

Sleep is important for your mind and body, as adequate and sufficient sleep:

• Strengthens memory and concentration
• Lowers stress intensities
• Increases daily energy
• Diminishes cravings
• Regulates hunger levels

Sleep to such benefits by taking power naps as needed and getting a full night's rest on a regular basis. The National Sleep Foundation encourages healthy adults to sleep seven to nine hours of quality on a nightly basis.

If struggling to achieve the recommended hours of sleep each night, create a bedtime routine by: 

• Staying consistent with bedtimes
• Powering down from electronics
• Evaluating and optimizing your room environment
• Practicing relaxation techniques

If still struggling with getting quality shuteye, consider consulting with a sleep specialist or another care provider. They can not only offer additional advice but ensure a sleep disorder is not impeding on getting adequate sleep.

5. Take a Day of Rest

In addition to achieving adequate sleep on a nightly basis, allow yourself days of rest and recovery.

Make sure to take one day out of the week to do something spontaneous or plan out a weekend trip you can look forward to. Doing so makes the whole "dieting" process more enjoyable - and life should be enjoyed!

Even if you cannot get away every weekend, make sure you do small things that you love on your day off. This could be as simple as going for a leisurely stroll, taking a walk in the park, or spending an evening relaxing to a movie.

6. Bask in Social Support

Social circles and support networks are invaluable for overall well-being and a sense of purpose.

A 75-year old study discovered good relationships keep us happier and healthier, though the data truly is not so surprising. We as humans need to feel connected to others is one of our basic needs that need to be met.

Form and turn to your strongest supporters, including family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Likewise, get them involved in your wellness journey by inviting them over for a home-cooked meal or exercise class.

7. Enjoy the Journey

One can make a target weight loss and health goal. However, sustainability relies on actively going through the different components of wellness.

Do not feel overwhelmed with large feats alone. Instead, take on small tasks, re-strategize as needed, and surround yourself with positive people. Also, embrace the journey and enjoy the process of achieving personal fulfillment and wellness!

Recapping Health & Wellness

While often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between health and wellness. Health is essentially the goal and wellness is an active approach to achieving it. 

Understanding the difference is key to living a fulfilled life. Whereas health cannot always be changed, there is always an opportunity to take an active and positive approach to wellness.

Overall, regularly putting your best foot forward in all areas of life can prosper greater health and wellness.