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What Is the Connection between Physical and Emotional Health?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Many psychological and physiological studies have found a significant correlation between physical and emotional health. Psychologically, it is commonly found that individuals with a high level of self-esteem and emotional health take care of their physical health and fitness, thereby perpetuating their sense of self-worth and happiness. Additionally, the health benefits of being at a high level of physical health likely contribute to good emotional health because the stresses of poor health, including doctor bills, hormonally-induced mood fluctuations, and generally feeling poorly are greatly reduced or even eliminated.

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Physical and emotional health are also related because the consequences of being in poor physical health can often lead to poor mental and emotional health, and vice versa. Having high levels of stress and poor emotional health can have very real physical health effects, which probably also contribute to stress and unhappiness. An injury or serious illness is likely to greatly affect a person's mood, not only due to the stress from medical bills and worrying about whether he or she will recover, but also because that person may be forced to stay at home and recover instead of interacting with friends and carrying on a personal life and career. Also, being obese, a type of poor health, can cause hormonal imbalances in the body that can have dramatic, often negative, effects on mood. Additionally, it is commonly found that people with poor emotional health often do not put forth the effort to keep themselves in good physical health.

It is frequently difficult to tell in which direction the cause and effect relationship exists between physical and emotional health, or if there is indeed any cause and effect at all. For example, a man may engage in good physical health habits because he has a high level of emotional health and views himself favorably, and therefore wants to take good care of himself physically. Conversely, the same man might have a high level of emotional health and self-esteem because he is physically fit.

Additionally, a depressed person may turn to food as a comfort and become unhealthily obese due to the depression. He or she may have become depressed in the first place because of his or her health problems. A third option, aside from physical and emotional health having a cause and effect relationship with each other in either direction, could be that physical and emotional health do not affect one another at all, but simply are more likely to occur together in some people.

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