The first wealth
is health.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Physical Health: Connection with Our Full Potential for Vitality and Energy 

Posted By Jennifer S. Pitts, Ph.D. 5/5/2016
In 2008, Martin Seligman announced a new area of study he calls positive health. Our conceptualization of physical health closely parallels Seligman’s concept of “positive health.”1 Ongoing research in positive health is exploring whether individual strengths like those studied by positive psychologists contribute to longer, healthier lives. According to Seligman, three areas characterize positive health: 

  1. subjective health
  2. biological health
  3. functional health
Subjective health is characterized by an individual’s sense of energy, vigor, vitality, robustness, the absence of bothersome symptoms, a sense of durability, hardiness, confidence about one’s body, an internal health-related locus of control, and optimism.

Biological health includes factors familiar to the wellness field, including body mass index, blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, cholesterol, and blood glucose.

Functional health includes objective measures of physical capacity such as balance, flexibility, grip strength, and the ability to engage in common daily living. It also includes the fit between the physical demands of an individual’s chosen lifestyle (work, family, social) and his or her ability to fully engage in his or her preferred way of life.