When questioned about their health, most people immediately think of their physical state: ‘am I eating right?’ and ‘how much exercise am I doing on a regular basis’? But your health is much more than a measure of your physical fitness.
In 1946, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.
Physical health requires good nutrition and physical activity.
Physical activity optimises lung capacity and function, cardiovascular strength and overall flexibility of muscles and joints. It can also optimise your immune system and releases endorphins, which make you feel good about yourself. The old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ has creditability when you consider the benefits of physical activity.
Social health is the interaction with others, participating in the community as an individual, or as a member of a group of likeminded individuals. Allowing time for both leisure and recreational activities prior to retirement is just as important as maintaining a level of participation post retirement. Good social health has been shown to contribute to a longer life and faster recovery from illness.
Mental health is your state of well-being – your own sense of self-worth. Your ability to cope with the stress of life and contributing in a positive manner to your own community or workplace. Good mental health is the foundation of mutual commitment, trust and respect.
Optimal health involves all three. Looking after yourself from a physical and nutritional point of view is only one third of the total picture. The entire package involves interaction with other people, effective communication, expressing your thoughts, listening and respecting others points of view and contributing to society in a positive manner.
The relationship between regular physical activity and a positive attitude is undeniable and it is important to maintain both, not only in your working life before retirement but also during your retirement. It will lead to a much happy and longer, healthy life.10