What is good health? Health, I believe is the combination of multiple factors – physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and social. We tend to think of health in only physical terms. Occasionally, mental health arises in our conversations.
Many times, health is described regarding the absence of physical disease. Some include mental depression and anxiety in with a physical illness. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. They specifically concluded that health was not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
When you reach old age, whether it be 65 years of age or older, does the definition of good health change? I think it does. When we are younger (under 40 years of age), we tend to believe we are bullet-proof when it comes to age-related diseases. We don’t think about them.
We might have a family member or friend who is having health problems, but we tend to think it is isolated and won’t apply to us as we age. There are a few who feel that they will inherit the diseases of their parents because of their genetic code. But, overall, younger people will worry about their health when they get older.
I believe that they think that way because they are living in good health and can do whatever they want. They play, travel, and enjoy their lives – for the most part. As they age and pass through their 50’s and 60’s, they begin to see the effects of aging.
Most of us view our physical image as youthful till we turn that awful age of 40. Wrinkles, dry and sagging skin are signs that you are getting older. But, you can have lines and sagging skin and still be in good health. We see ourselves aging and begin to think, “what’s next?”.
We have several measures of age. We have chronological age – the number of years we’ve been alive. We have our mental age which seems to stabilize and remain in our mid-20’s. We have our biological age which can be ten to twenty years older or younger than our chronological age.
Our lifestyle choices can be used to assess our biological age. I took a biological age test just before writing this article. My score was 18 years younger than my chronological age. Other tests that I’ve taken in the past yielded similar results. I am living fifteen to twenty years younger than I am when I celebrate my annual birthday party.
What does it the cost to attain and maintain good health? I eat organic mostly. That costs more, but it averages about the same overall price because I eat less – usually averaging one meal a day. I fast 40 or so hours a week. I skip one day per week often. The cost of food is not a factor in maintaining good health.
Exercise is the cost of my time rather than the cost of a gym membership. My wife and I walked 500 miles in 30 days across Spain (the Camino de Santiago) eighteen months ago. We bought the required equipment and practiced for a year before going. I didn’t have to buy any stuff to do the exercise we did. Exercise is exercise – it is how much time do you devote to it.
I get a physical every year. My insurance pays for it. There should be no extra expense for most people. I order additional health tests – c-reactive protein, homocysteine level, vitamin D3 level, to name a few. I want to know how healthy I am inside my body.
C-reactive protein gives me a good measure of inflammation in body – not location specific. Homocysteine level tests tell me the health status of my heart. Vitamin D3 tests give me a functional assessment of my health and my ability to maintain it.
The cost of good health should not mean that you spend more dollars to attain and maintain it. It does say that you need to spend more time planning what to eat and doing a variety of exercises (balance, strength, cardio, stretching, etc.). If you don’t maintain your fitness level, you can’t do what you want to do when you get older.
I suggest that good health doesn’t cost you any more money, but a little more of your time, especially as you get older.