Health promotion

For a long time, the approaches advocated by health professionals have been limited to treating health problems once they have appeared. Then, gradually, interventions aimed at preventing the onset of diseases were developed, such as vaccination or sanitation. It was not until 1986 that the World Health Organization officially proposed a new approach to improve the health of populations, rather than treating or preventing it : health promotion. This approach is defined as “the process of empowering people to take greater control over their own health, and to improve it” (Ottawa Charter, 1986). According to this perspective, health is “perceived as a resource of daily life, and not as the goal of life; it is a positive concept emphasizing social and individual resources, as well as physical capacities. Health promotion, therefore, is not just a matter of the health sector : it goes beyond healthy lifestyles to target well-being” (Ottawa Charter, 1986).

Health promotion does not only aim to modify the behavior of individuals, but rather to create favorable environments for health, to strengthen the participation of citizens in decision-making in health matters, to encourage social solidarity, mutual assistance and the improvement of the living conditions of the populations. Health promotion is the business of all sectors, not just health. The education community, the business world, the municipality, the community, all must work together to reduce social inequalities in health. Promoting health means ensuring that everyone can develop their full potential and lead an active and happy life.

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Health promoting behaviors

Some behaviors promote health. The best known are certainly to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, to prefer legumes, fish and poultry to red meats and to exercise regularly. There are several other behaviors that are good for our health, but that we don’t always think of that way. Cultivating friendships and social network is part of this category. Indeed, the health benefits of friendship and social support are very well demonstrated scientifically. Mutual aid and social participation too.

Stress is a factor that contributes to the development of several diseases. It is essential to learn to manage it well and to make changes in our life if our stress level exceeds our coping capacities. Taking time to relax is essential.

Gratitude is also a behavior to be nourished every day, because it promotes well-being. Thank people around us for their benefits, take the time to recognize pur strengths daily and be grateful for the good times of the day is beneficial to health. This is a good habit to adopt.

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