As my students and I have been learning in the Wellness course, the concept of “Health” is more than meets the eye. In the 1800s (life was shorter and harsher back then), the idea was that you were healthy if you weren’t suffering from somelife-threatening disease. Epidemics swept through every so often, and wiped out tens of  thousands of people at a glance. As researchers discovered that microorganisms contaminating the environment, especially the water, advances in sanitation and healthy hygiene practices greatly reduced the prevalance of disease (Donatelle and Kolen-Thompson, 2015).

“Health” began to be seen as more than simply the absence of disease.

In fact, what has developed is more or less a framework within which to understand health and “well-ness” (some may quibble about it, but I think these two terms can be used interchangeably). One way to envision it is the Wellness continuum. Like this (adapted from Donatelle and Kolen-Thompson, 2015):

                                                  Optimum Wellness


                                         Good Health

                                    Average Health

                               Signs of Illness

                          Irreversible Disability

                     Premature Death

It is helpful to see wellness in terms of this continuum, and I think it is instructive to consider where, along the continuum, your personal wellness lies.


Donatelle, R. J. & Kolen-Thompson, A. M. (2015).  Health:  The Basics (6th Canadian ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Pearson Education, Inc.