1.2  Physical health

A young person with both legs in cast supporting himself on crutches.
Figure 1.2  Even though this young person has a physical problem he may still be healthy according to a wider definition of health. (Photo: Henk van Stokkom)

To understand physical health (Figure 1.2) you need to know what is considered to be physically unhealthy so that you can contrast the two (Box 1.3).

Box 1.3  Defining physical health

Physical health, which is one of the components of the definition of health, could be defined as the absence of diseases or disability of the body parts. Physical health could be defined as the ability to perform routine tasks without any physical restriction.

The following examples can help you to understand someone who is physically unhealthy:

  • A person who has been harmed due to a car accident
  • A farmer infected by malaria and unable to do their farming duties
  • A person infected by tuberculosis and unable to perform his or her tasks.
  • Think about someone with physical damage, perhaps due to a car accident. Also think about someone in your community who you would consider to be physically disabled. According to the WHO definition do you see them as healthy?

  • While both of these people may be restricted in their movement and ability to do routine tasks they may still be in a state of physical and mental well-being.

Health is not limited to the biological integrity and the physiological functioning of the human body. Psychological health is also an important aspect of a health definition.

1.1.2  Broader perspectives of health

1.3  Psychological health