What is health?

The World Health Organisation says:
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
Three areas of health

Physical health

Physical health is a vital part of supporting our overall health and wellbeing. If we spend our lives rushing around and forgetting to take care of ourselves physically, this can also have an impact not only on our physical health, but also our overall wellbeing as well as our mental health.

Looking after our physical health is an integral part of our overall strategy to support our whole health.

Being healthy doesn't have to be complicated.

There are three key things that we can focus on every day to give our bodies the best chance to stay healthy, active and well so we can achieve what we want to in life.

1. Sleep and rest.

Sleep is vital for so many of our body's processes. It enables us to recharge, refresh, repair and restore.

It is recommended that we get around 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

When we don't get enough sleep, this can affect a number of things including our ability to concentrate, our mood and our appetite and even our social life.

Not getting enough sleep over a long period of time can also impact our mental health, our coping mechanisms and may also lead to long-term affects on our body's ability to function effectively.

Some of us may experience trouble getting to sleep or trouble staying asleep. This may be due to stress, anxiety, we we consume like alcohol or caffeine or other causes. To understand this better, take a look at the NHS Every Mind Matters guide to Sleep Problems and Insomnia.

It's not just about sleep. Getting enough rest is also an important part of physical health. This is about balance.

So, how can we do this?

By bringing awareness to our routines, understanding what we may be exerting ourselves without a break, and taking some time to rest will support our whole health. It also gives our body time to repair and prevents injury.

2. Eating and drinking well.

Our bodies need fuel to function.

The food we eat and staying hydrated play a huge role in our overall health.

Nutrition is about the choices we make.

The UK healthy eating model The Eatwell Guide outlines how to achieve a healthy balanced diet by:

1. Eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
2. Starchy foods (carbohydrates) should make up around a 1/3 of our diet a day.
3. Eating good sources of protein.
4. Choose unsaturated fats and use in small amounts.
5. Eat smaller amounts of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

Stay hydrated by drinking the recommended 6-8 cups/glasses of fluids a day.

3. Moving.

Movement is also key.

Ensuring that way have physical activity in our day-to-day routines is key to our health. Best of all, it doesn't need to cost you anything.

The NHS says that exercise can "reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%".
Guidance suggests that adults should aim to incorporate some type of physical activity every day.

This should include:

2 days a week (min) - strengthening activities for the major muscle groups
150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 
75 minutes of vigorous activity a week spread evenly throughout the week, or a bit each day.

So, over a seven day period, that could include:
  • Yoga, pilates, tai chi, lifting weights or using resistance bands twice a week, and
  • 20 minutes a day moderate exercise, for example brisk walking, riding a bike, dancing or hiking. or
  • 10 minutes a day vigorous exercise, for example running, swimming, riding a bike uphill, walking up stairs, playing sports or martial arts.
  • or a mixture of the two.
See NHS Exercise guide for more information.

There are free tools and guides such as Couch to 5k to get you back up an running. If running's not for you, then start by incorporating a walk into your daily routine with the free Active 10 app.

Need some support? Why not join a local group like Parkrun or meet up with friends for a walk.

Why not start by exploring London's natural green spaces like wandering around Regent's Park, or climbing to the top of Primrose Hill (both accessible from the Academy)?

Check out Royal Parks for more ideas.

Mental health

Great news! Looking after your physical health through: 
  • Sleep and rest
  • Eating and drinking well, and
  • Getting moving
Also supports your mental health and wellbeing. 

For more information see What is mental health and how can I look after my wellbeing?


Wellbeing is described by the WHO as:
"A positive state experienced by individuals and societies."

"Wellbeing encompasses quality of life and the ability of people and societies to contribute to the world with a sense of meaning and purpose. Focusing on well-being supports the tracking of the equitable distribution of resources, overall thriving and sustainability."
There are said to be five steps to developing and sustaining wellbeing:
  1. Connecting with others. Relationships are important for belonging and self-worth, sharing experienced and providing emotional support with each other.
  2. Being physically active. As mentioned above, moving is great for physical health and also helps with self-esteem, achieving goals and boosting positive mood.
  3. Learning new skills. Trying something new helps with connection, building a sense of purpose, and improving self-confidence and self-worth.
  4. Giving to others. Being involved in your community, giving your time to helping others, even small acts of kindness can help you feel connects, gives a sense of reward and purpose and boosts self-worth.
  5. Paying attention to the present. Practicing mindfulness can help resilience, processing your thoughts and feelings, as well as how you interact with the world.
What is social wellbeing?

Social wellbeing is about belonging. It's about connection, sharing and developing healthy and meaningful relationships with others, with your community and how we contribute to society. 

Supporting others starts with supporting ourselves.

We can only really show up for others, when we've taken care of ourselves. By looking after our physical health, mental health and wellbeing every day, as well as developing our place in society, we taking steps to support not only ourselves, but also those around us.

Remember, you're not on your own.

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