Wellness and Health

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Wellness and Health

Not by Bread Alone:...366
Don'ts in Removing Superfluous Hair...368
Alcoholics and God...370
Conscious Control of our Sex Life...373
Our Bodies, Ourselves...376
A Medical Student in 1867...378
This I Believe...382
Remarks on the Youth Fitness Program...384
The Complete Book of Running...387
Americans with Disabilities Act...390
A Wake-Up Call...393
Home Diagnostic Tests: The Ultimate House Call?...395
Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2003...399
Obesity Trends among U.S. Adults...401
America is Still Working on its Abs...404
Fresh Faces...408

Health and wellness is a phrase that first gained popularity in the 1970s. It refers to self-motivated actions taken by those who wish to improve their physical health and/or appearance, mental or spiritual outlook, or protect themselves from disease. The pursuit of physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle has since become an important part of many people's lives, encompassing exercise, diet, mental health, disease prevention, and sexuality.

In 1970, the Boston Women's Health Book Collective published Our Bodies, Ourselves, which provided health and medical information, and promoted an activist approach to guiding health policy. The book was somewhat controversial at the time, particularly for its approach to a women's right to abortion, and health/sexuality issues.

Today, the idea of individuals taking responsibility for their own health and wellness is fairly mainstream, with many books, magazines, and newspaper sections as well as websites and television shows devoted to the subject.

In addition to the various media resources people can access, organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Weight Watchers also provide support. These types of groups stress self-analysis and behavioral change.

Personal responsibility in the form of physical exercise programs have gained popularity over the years and have helped many people become more physically fit. In the 1970s, for example, the aerobics movement founded by the American physician Kenneth Cooper was a driving force behind the increased popularity of aerobics. Running was popularized by authors such as Jim Fixx, whose book The Complete Book of Running sold millions of copies.

In addition to aerobics, a plethora of fitness programs and equipment are now available. Many have proven value, while others make sensational claims and are more dubious. Although the approach adopted by organizations like Weight Watchers has shown that a balanced diet combined with exercise can improve and maintain fitness over time, Americans continue to embrace products and plans that promise rapid change. Fad diets, for example, encourage rapid weight loss, but are usually accompanied by weight gain once the diet is ended. Weight reduction products aimed at the overweight and clinically obese generate sales in the billions of dollars annually in the United States alone. The regulation and policing of the lucrative diet industry can generate intense legal, social, and political controversy.

Many people associate a certain physical appearance with robust health. In "America Is Still Working on Its Abs," this obsession with a muscular body is examined. The desire for a younger-looking body has led to a surge in cosmetic surgeries and procedures such as liposuction and botox injections.

Today, health and wellness also encompasses disease detection and prevention. "Home Diagnostic Tests: The Ultimate House Call?" looks at commercially available home testing. Pregnancy test kits have been available for several decades. But now, home-based tests can even be done for diseases such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Although not intended to replace examination and consultation by a physician, home tests offer privacy, and often immediate results.

In terms of mental health, approaches such as biofeedback, psychoanalysis, and counseling have become popular.