Am I healthy? is a question that passes through many peoples’ minds. There are countless commercials for fitness clubs, diet pills, and healthy eating programs, which give us an idea of how our society today views health. We want to feel good and look good, however, the “looking good” part often dominates the equation; being attractive-looking is often associated with being in good shape.
How far are we willing to go to become “healthy?” Are the ways that society has pursued becoming healthier actually beneficial? Through ever-changing technology and an increased knowledge of what is advantageous to the human body, we have been able to modify our health, as well as insurance policies.
There are various determinants that factor in when it comes to human health, some more obvious than others. It is repeated in health magazines and other forms of media that eating right, exercising, and being well rested all have a positive impact on one’s health. Proof of the constructive results from having a good diet is given by Sorensen et al. (2007), “Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce risk of chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity” (p. 1216).
Exercising also plays a big role in being healthy. According to the Mayo Clinic Staff (2007), thirty minutes of aerobic activity can reduce health risks, help you manage chronic conditions, ward off viral illnesses, keep your arteries clear, strengthen your heart, and boost your mood (What aerobic exercise does for your health, para. 2).
What many people do not realize is that health is also influenced by socioeconomic status; being healthy comes with a price that not everyone can afford. Sorensen et al. (2007) notes that the consumption of fruits and vegetables increases with financial income and level of education, and “is higher among individuals in white-collar rather than blue-collar occupations” (p. 1216).
An additional factor that influences health is race/ethnicity. Individuals of Black or Hispanic ethnicity are less likely to consume fruits and vegetables than individuals who are of Asian/Pacific Islander, White, or Multiethnic background (Sorensen et al., 2007, p. 1220). This is because Blacks and Hispanics also fall into the blue-collar occupation bracket. Being a certain ethnicity puts individuals at a set disadvantage.
Stress is another factor that is often overlooked when it comes to health. Stress level is connected to our immune system; if a person has a high level of negative stress (s)he will be more vulnerable to illness and disease.
Nadig (1999) reports, “The increased inner pressure can cause our health to deteriorate resulting in a variety of serious physical problems. Stress victims can become emotional cripples and physiologically old and run down long before their time” (Stress can be harmful to your health section, para.
1). Even young people can be affected by stress, even if they appear perfectly healthy otherwise. In addition, many conditions which we do not think about can be connected to stress. According to Cornforth (2003), “Stress is or may be a contributing factor in everything from backaches and insomnia to cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome” (Stress related illness section, para.
1). Before making an appointment with your doctor, ask yourself how much stress you have been under lately. It is very possible stress is the underlying answer.