A vast difference exists between the words health and wellness. While most people consider these words to convey similar meanings, their definitions vary considerably. Health, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as, "the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially freedom from physical disease or pain." More simply put, health is a conditional state. A person can be in good health or bad health, based on their physical and emotional symptoms. As well, a person can alter the condition of their health by changing their habits for better or for worse. For example, if a person is considered unhealthy due to a weight problem or high blood pressure, they can start exercising, eating a healthy diet, and changing poor lifestyle habits. If this person ever loses weight and lowers their blood pressure, the doctor may declare that they are now in good health. However, the term health is conditional. This person can easily slip back into a state of unhealthiness by returning to the habits that got them there in the first place.
On the other hand wellness is defined as, "the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively thought goal." Wellness, unlike health which is conditional, is a continuous state of optimal health that is maintained through persistent effort. If health and wellness were designated as running terms, health would be a sprint and wellness a marathon. Wellness, like health, does account for the physical, emotional, and spiritual state of a person. However, wellness primarily refers to a person's continual effort to strive for peak performance and overall well-being in the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms.
It is for this reason that corporate wellness plans are essential to a company's long-term success. Workplace health programs do not just promote employee health, but also stress the importance of wellness-a continuous state of health and well-being. The benefits of long-term employee health for a company include less payment towards health plans, happier workers, and higher production rates. While it may seem to be common knowledge, a person who is physically healthy and emotionally stable will perform at higher levels than an employee who is dissatisfied with his or her overall health. This does not just benefit a company while the program is in place, but long after as a result of its employees profiting from a healthy lifestyle. A wellness lifestyle encompasses more than a person's physical state. Emotional and spiritual health is also taken into consideration. Now, the importance of good employee health should not be downplayed. It is extremely important to encourage all employees within a company to endeavor to reach a healthier state. However, striving for good health should not end once a person reaches their desired health goals. A journey towards wellness is what constituents effective corporate wellness plans.