Characteristics of Good Health

By Anthony M. Wanjohi:

Health is a resource for everyday life and not the objective of living (WHO, 1986). Further, WHO proceed to define Health as a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.  According to Lancet (2009), good health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Good health also implies the absence of disease or infirmity. Along this line of thought, Halbert (1961), states that health is not the absence of illness but the full realization of one’s physical and mental potential, as achieved through positive attitudes, fitness training, a diet low in fat and high in fiber, and the avoidance of unhealthful practices such as smoking, use of drug and alcohol abuse.


Health can be divided into two broad aspects namely physical and mental health (Lancet, 2009). For humans, physical health means a good body health, which is healthy because of regular physical activity (exercise), good nutrition, and adequate rest.


Physical health

Physical health relates to anything concerning our bodies as physical entities (Lancet, 2009). According to National Health Service (2010), physical health fitness constitutes the following attributes:

a)      a person’s cardio respiratory endurance,

b)      Good muscular strength, flexibility, and

c)      Proper body composition.

d)      Other contributors to physical wellbeing may include proper nutrition, bodyweight management, abstaining from drug abuse.


Mental health

Mental health refers to person’s cognitive and emotional well-being. A person who enjoys good mental health does not have a mental disorder (WHO, 2010).  According to Nordqvist (2004), mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and be able to make a contribution to his or her community.  Halbert (1961), defines good mental health as absence of mental illness.


There are various attributes of mental health. According to Slyvanus (1997), these attributes consist of good mental health consists but not limited to following:

a)      Ability to enjoy life,

b)      The ability to bounce back from adversity,

c)      The ability to achieve balance (moderation),

d)      The ability to be flexible and adapt,

e)      The ability to feel safe and secure and

f)        Self-actualization (making the best of what one has).


Good mental health is the hallmark of good body health. Mind influences the body. As such, it is important to work towards maintaining not only body but mental health.



Lancet, D. (2009). Social well-being. Volume 373, Issue 9666, Page, 781.

Halbert, L. (1961). High Level Wellness. University of East Carolina, USA.

National Health Service (NHS) (2010). Physical Health Fitness, National

Institutes of Health, USA.

Nordqvist, C. (2004). What Does Good Health Mean?Bexhill-on-Sea, UK Medi Lexicon International.

Slyvanus, B (1997). What Is Health?, Department for Education and Employment. Retrieved on 24th July from

WHO (2010) Environmental burden of disease in Europe: retrieved 22nd July 2011 from regional-story-netherlands.