How Do You Define & Improve Overall Health?


Mother holds baby up with legs after yoga.

Physical health is the most common measure of a person’s health and the metrics of physical health are familiar for many people – weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc.  It is influenced by one’s genetics and lifestyle.  It’s likely not news to anyone reading this that diet and exercise are key components to attaining and maintaining one’s optimal health. However, there is a much bigger picture when it comes to your physical health, there are 5 other dimensions of health that all influence each other to contribute to your overall health and well-being.

The 5 Dimensions of Health

Chart: 5 Dimensions of Health

1. Intellectual Health

You don’t have to have a high IQ score to be intellectually healthy.  If you are able to think clearly, reason objectively, and make responsible decisions, you likely have good intellectual health. Another indicator of strong intellectual health is the ability to learn from successes and mistakes.

2. Emotional Health

To have good emotional health does not mean that one has to be happy all the time.  It is entirely appropriate to experience a full spectrum of human emotion.  Good emotional health is being able to recognize and appropriately express one’s feelings.

3. Spiritual Health

Spiritual health is all about meaning and balance.  Many people find that through religious practice, but it’s not a necessity.  Individuals can live a balanced, introspective, and purpose-filled life in a variety of ways.

4. Environmental Health

Environmental health is often thought of in large-scale terms – water pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, etc.  While that certainly does affect one’s health, our everyday personal environments also have a significant influence over our health.  Our homes, vehicles, and work environments can be the source of pollution and illness if we are not careful.

5. Social Health

How do you know if you have good social health?  Social health is less about the number of relationships that one has and more about the quality of one’s relationships.  If you are able to develop and maintain satisfying interpersonal relationships, you likely have good social health. It is important to know that health is not absolute – health is a spectrum ranging from poor health to optimal health. One’s health status in any of these dimensions is not permanent – it can change for better or worse.  Each dimension has an effect on the others. The good news is that each person has the ability to make changes to improve their health in each of these dimensions.

Physical Therapists Role in Improving Overall Health

  • Determine a baseline health and fitness level for the new exerciser
  • Determine what exercises are appropriate for an individual based on specific testing
  • Act as a fitness consultant and guide to progressing a home exercise program
  • Working with a patients current fitness professional, like a personal trainer, to address mobility deficits that are impairing an individual’s ability to exercise
  • Certain pharmaceuticals impact the body’s typical response to exercise. A physical therapist understands these effects and can create a safe program for an individual based on this knowledge

So now that we know what role a physical therapist plays, how exactly does physical activity and exercise benefit a patient dealing with mental health concerns?

Benefits of Exercise On Mental Health

Fit woman focused on holding a plank.

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Improve the quality of sleep
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Creates a sense of achievement
  • Improves cognitive function and mental alertness
  • Improve mood
  • Reduces fatigue

Are you looking for a licensed physical therapist to help you make improvements to your overall health? Feel free to take a look at our physical therapy clinic locations and schedule a free injury assessment. we have locations all throughout Tucson.


ProActive Physical Therapy is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).