For example, environmental factors and individual behaviors are responsible for close to 70 percent of all premature deaths in the United States of America.
Individual behaviors and biology influence our health because they interact with each other.
In addition, our biology and behavior also manipulates our physical and social environments.
Additionally, health policies and interventions can improve our health by focusing on factors that relate to our environment and individuals, such as access to quality health care.
So, what does this all mean to you and me?
Well, our lives and livelihood evolve around how healthy we are; our healthy habits and whether we can afford and have access to quality health care.
If we look at the influences on our health we can see how we have some control in the choices we make to live healthier and longer lives.
Influencing Factors on Our Health
There are four major influences to our health. Our biological makeup is the first factor.
What is biology? Biology applies to an individual’s genetic makeup, like family history, physical or mental health difficulties, diet, alcohol or illicit drug abuse, physical activity, and aging–elements of which we are born with.
Behaviors are our individual reactions or responses to external conditions and internal stimuli.
Our behavior can be a result of a reaction to our biology, and conversely, our biology can stimulate changes in our behavior.
For instance, smoking tobacco products is a behavior that alters the cells in our lungs which results in changes to our biology in the form of emphysema, shortness of breath, or cancer. On the other hand, these biological changes to our bodies may lead an individual to stop the behavior (smoking).
Another example of how behaviors and biology interact is how a motivated individual develops healthy eating habits, avoids tobacco, and is physically active which are all behaviors in an attempt to prevent getting heart disease which may be part of his or her family history (biology).
Social and Physical Influences on Our Health
Our personal choices combined with our physical and social environments encompass each of us and shape our behaviors.
Our social and physical environment has both a positive and negative effect on our lives even though we may not have control.
The social environment has an intense effect on individual’s health because of our customs, religious, spirituals, personal beliefs, and languages.
On the other hand, our physical environment is made up of what we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
It also consists of unseen or less noticeable hazards to our health like radiation, bacteria, water, or air pollution. These hazards and infectious agents, (like lead paint, asbestos, leaking gas, poor sanitation, rodents, etc.), may be in our schools, workplaces, and homes which has an affect on individuals and the community, as well.
On the other hand, our physical environments may have safe places to play, work, and exercise which attributes to healthy habits and overall good health.
Policies and Interventions Influence Our Health
They include health promotion campaigns to prevent smoking, policies and laws that require the use of safety belts and child restraints in trucks and automobiles, immunizations, and disease prevention services, to name a few.
Finally, access to quality health care is essential for improving the health of all individuals and communities.
It is important we understand that all the influences I’ve mentioned in this writing work hand-in-hand; they’re all related in enhancing the quality of life, extending life spans, and eliminating health disparities.
We have limited control of some of these influences on our health and life; however, our behavior, our healthy habits, and the choices we make have a significant bearing on how much strength we’ll have when faced with negative circumstances out of our immediate or direct control.