What’s health to you?

Health Informatics is my field of research. Both words have different associations for different people, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about health – what does it mean to me?

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (Consitution of the World Health Organization, 2006), and this defintion resonates with me. Often when we speak of health, we focus on the physical aspects, especially when involved in healthcare and medicine. My own personal experience tells me that the three aspects mentioned by WHO (physical, mental and social well-being) are so closely intertwined it’s almost impossible to address one aspect without also affecting the others. Excercise and healthy eating habits will make you feel better not only physically, but also mentally. If you are unhappy in your social life it affects your motivation to preserve a healthy lifestyle negatively. Bad habits (that affect our physical, mental or social well-being negatively) have  a tendency to create negative spirals; if I eat junk food I don’t have the energy to exercise and I end up on the sofa watching TV and eating more junk, feeling really bad about myself… and the other way around. Now, it’s of course each individuals personal responsibility to live a healthy life, but we all know that changing bad habits can be difficult. A topic I’ve found more and more interesting lately is therefore; how can we use new technology (since I’m an informatics researcher too)to create a space for collaboration where healthcare and individuals can meet and find support for health promotion and behavioral change?

I will return to this in the future…

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