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Health and wellbeing

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What communities can do[edit]

Overview, see right hand column for more

  • Ecotherapy
  • Green Gym
  • Healthy Living Projects
  • Healthy eating projects
  • Health and sustainability Fairs
  • Walking for Health initiatives and Community walking projects

Why it matters[edit]

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in its 1948 constitution as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." This definition has been subject to controversy, in particular as lacking operational value and because of the problem created by use of the word "complete". Other definitions have been proposed, among which a recent definition that correlates health and personal satisfaction.

The term "healthy" is also widely used in the context of many types of non-living organizations and their impacts for the benefit of humans, such as in the sense of healthy communities, healthy cities or healthy environments. In addition to health care interventions and a person's surroundings, a number of other factors are known to influence the health status of individuals, including their background, lifestyle, and economic, social conditions, and spirituality; these are referred to as "determinants of health." Studies have shown that high levels of stress can affect human health. W

Mental health[edit]

The World Health Organization describes mental health as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". Mental Health is not just the absence of mental illness. W


Well-being, wellbeing, or wellness is the condition of an individual or group. A high level of well-being means that in some sense the individual's or group's condition is positive.

"Wellness refers to diverse and interconnected dimensions of physical, mental, and social well-being that extend beyond the traditional definition of health. It includes choices and activities aimed at achieving physical vitality, mental alacrity, social satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, and personal fulfillment." [1]

UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) definition[edit]

The ONS defines wellbeing "as having 10 broad dimensions which have been shown to matter most to people in the UK as identified through a national debate. The dimensions are:

  • the natural environment,
  • personal well-being,
  • our relationships,
  • health,
  • what we do,
  • where we live,
  • personal finance,
  • the economy,
  • education and skills, and
  • governance.

Personal wellbeing is a particularly important dimension which we define as how satisfied we are with our lives, our sense that what we do in life is worthwhile, our day to day emotional experiences (happiness and anxiety) and our wider mental wellbeing." [2]

Community and planetary wellbeing[edit]

Community action for sustainability is concerned with at least three complementary, overlapping and interlocking kinds of wellbeing: Environmental, Social and Economic. see also: Joined-up solutions, Genuine progress indicator W, Happy Planet Index W. Some have suggested a fourth kind, Spiritual well being, is also important. see: Why it matters. Similarly, for example the Transition movement includes concern for 'Inner Transition' [3]

Quality of life[edit]

Quality of life is the general well-being of individuals and societies, outlining negative and positive features of life. It observes life satisfaction, including everything from physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, safety, security to freedom, religious beliefs, and the environment. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment.

Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. [4]

See also: Quality of life, Sustainable well-being

Green exercise[edit]

Green exercise refers to physical exercise undertaken in natural environments. Physical exercise is well known to provide physical and psychological health benefits. There is also good evidence that viewing, being in, and interacting with natural environments has positive effects, reducing stress and increasing the ability to cope with stress, reducing mental fatigue and improving concentration and cognitive function. W

Green Gym[edit]

The Conservation Volunteers' (UK community volunteering charity that works to create healthier and happier communities for everyone through environmental conservation) Green Gym programme aims to provide people with a way to enhance their fitness and health while taking action to improve the outdoor environment. It can be seen as enabling people to get fit who would not normally attend a conventional gym or sports centre. W


  • Helping one another to discover what is already out there!

News and comment[edit]


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Jun 12 Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle: Mending hearts: how a ‘repair economy’ creates a kinder, more caring community [5]


May 30 New Zealand 'wellbeing' budget promises billions to care for most vulnerable [6]


Jan 9 Urban sustainability UK: Urban co-design for better wellbeing and health: Healthy New Town [7]


Save millions of lives by tackling climate change, says WHO, Dec 5 [8]


Air pollution now 'largest health crisis', Nov 22 [9]

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Prototyping a ‘Citizen Research Centre’ by Sarah Drummond, Nov 14 [10]

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How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets, Feb 11 [11]

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Health UK: We need to talk about ageing – and it’s about far more than the NHS, Feb 4, John Harris [12]


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Health UK: Huge health gap revealed between UK’s rich and poor, Dec 23 [13]

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United States: Economic Inequality and Health Inequality Are Inextricably Linked, Dec 5 [14]

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Health UK: Being poor kills – to improve public health the government must tackle inequality, Apr 10 [15]


Can Commons Thinking Drive a New Health System? Nov 30 [16]


World’s first passive house hospital planned, July 18 [17]


Sustainable Medicine, Cuba and Peak oil, 20 October [18]

Climate change is the biggest health threat of the 21st Century, May 14 [19]


Integrated health strategies can save children’s lives, says UNICEF flagship, State of the World’s Children Report 2008, January 22 [20]



Oct 10 World Mental Health Day, 2019, Thu

World Health Organization Flag.jpg Apr 7 World Health Day 2019, Sun

See also[edit]

  • local information can be found, or shared, via our many location pages

In a way all CASwiki topics are about community wellbeing

Interwiki links[edit]

Wikipedia: Health, Ecopsychology, Green exercise, Green Gym, Health impact assessment, Environmental justice, Transnational movement networks

External links[edit]


This page includes Creative Commons Licensed content from the Sustainable community action wiki on Wikia.
The list of authors can be seen in the history, link via drop down menu at top left of page.

  1. Well-being W
  2. Well-being W
  4. Quality of life W
  6. The Guardian
  7. What Works Centre for Wellbeing
  8. The Guardian
  10. Medium
  11. The Guardian
  12. The Guardian
  13. The Guardian
  16. @Shareable
  17. Passive House Plus
  18., 20 Oct 2009
  19. University College London, May 14, 2009
  20. UNICEF, January 22 2008