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Health and wellness defined

The definitions of wellness, well-being and health are often thought to be interchangeable. Let’s look a little deeper.

September 23, 2022
A woman smiles, standing in front of a flowering tree.

Health and wellness defined

The definitions of wellness, well-being and health are often thought to be interchangeable. Let’s look a little deeper.

September 23, 2022
A woman smiles, standing in front of a flowering tree.

Health and wellness defined

The definitions of wellness, well-being and health are often thought to be interchangeable. Let’s look a little deeper.

September 23, 2022

Health vs. wellness – is there a difference?

Health and wellness are big buzzwords. Whether you’re looking at product categories while shopping online, searching tips from your favorite health and wellness influencer or seeking advice from doctors, trainers or dietitians, it seems that everyone has their own idea of health and wellness.

Throw “well-being” in there and you have a terminology trifecta with definitions that all seem to blend together. You often find the terms used interchangeably, but they do have distinct definitions.

What is health?

What is health? Most basic definitions of health talk about being sound in body, mind and spirit and free from physical disease or pain. The World Health Organization, which has an obvious interest in the term, defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

A doctor or research institute might have a slightly different answer when asked: What is health? But most definitions allude to different parts of your health: physical health, mental/emotional health, environmental health, social health, spiritual health, etc. Many times, the state of each of those different types of health are looked at collectively as someone’s wellness or well-being.

Well-being definition

Well-being is the big picture of your overall health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control considers well-being because so often one aspect of your health can affect other aspects: “Well-being integrates mental health (mind) and physical health (body) resulting in more holistic approaches to disease prevention and health promotion.”

If your social health is suffering, you could be feeling lonely and disconnected, and that can affect your mental health. If your mental health suffers, your physical health might be more at risk. That’s why the big picture of your overall health is so important.

Definition of wellness

Wellness is often used in the same way as well-being, but there is a nuance to the meaning of wellness that doesn’t exist for well-being. Many definitions include the action of trying to improve health as part of the meaning of wellness.

The nonprofit Global Wellness Institute, for example, defines it as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” The dictionary, too, adds that extra aspect: “The state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.”

How to be healthy

Now that we’ve covered all those definitions, let’s talk about your health and wellness. There are several ways to support your health and wellness, but two of the major areas will be very familiar to you: diet and exercise.

There’s a reason why eating right and getting regular physical activity are the top of the health and wellness list and always have been: When your physical health is in tip-top shape, you are better able to tackle other types of health and support your overall well-being.

A recent survey also shows that people increasingly are focusing on those two areas. The August 2021* survey found that roughly two in five Americans reported positive changes to their fitness routines and diets, including the addition of multivitamins or other nutrition products in the previous 20 months.

Health and nutrition: Benefits of eating healthy

Food is your body’s fuel and the quality of that fuel can make a difference. Sure, you can survive on a daily diet of spicy snack chips and sugary sodas, but will your body be performing at its peak? Absolutely not.

A diet rich in a variety of whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure you’re getting the wide variety of nutrients your body requires to carry out daily functions.

And adding a daily multivitamin or other supplements can help fill any nutrient gaps in your diet, ensuring your body gets what it needs.

Other benefits of eating healthy? The WHO says a healthy diet also protects against many diseases.

Benefits of physical activity

In addition to a healthy diet, the WHO also says getting adequate physical activity is key in reducing the risk factor for many diseases, including strokes and diabetes. It also helps you maintain a healthy body.

Regular physical activity supports cardiovascular health, muscular fitness, bone health and body composition (more muscle, less fat). There are also indications that regular exercise can boost mood and help you feel more energized.

Exercise can improve your brain function, boost your social interaction if you do it with a friend, give you a sense of accomplishment, increase your oxygen flow and trigger the release of feel-good endorphins.

Adults should shoot for 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of the two, as long as it includes some that get your heart rate pumping. And something is better than nothing—it’s okay to start small.

Wondering where to start?

Making the decision to try to improve your overall well-being might be easy, but actually doing the work can be daunting. Where do you start? Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there to give you some guidance on health and wellness, whether it’s an app, website, book or blog.

A good place to start is with something like the Wellness Recommender created by Nutrilite™ nutritionists and scientists. It’s a quick, holistic assessment of where you are in your wellness journey followed by personalized food, lifestyle and product recommendations based on your needs.

Need more help? Check out all the health and wellness articles on Amway Discover to learn about healthy habits and strategies to improve nutrition, fitness, sleep, mood or other aspects of your health. While you’re there, hop on over to the Nutrition products to see what multivitamins or supplements might help you reach your nutrition goals.

Survey methodology:

This research was conducted by The Logit Group on behalf of Amway. In August 2021, a total of 8,040 respondents were surveyed, using Logit Group’s opt-in consumer panel. Responses were collected from eight countries: USA (n=1,000), India (n=1,002), Italy (n=1,002), Japan (n=1,001), Malaysia (n=1,004), South Korea (n=1,006), Taiwan (n=1,000) and Thailand (n=1,025). Quotas were used to ensure representativeness by age, gender and region within each country.