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The history of wellness

Wellness is as old as mankind, since people have always intended to improve their own capacity to defeat their own barriers and prevent diseases.  It is well known that in ancient times prehistoric men often sat in hot water springs to enjoy the benefits of water.

Conscious attempts to create harmony between mental and physical health go back to the period of the antiquity. In Ancient Greece the word kalokagathia was used to denote the basic principle of education and it integrated moral goodness with good looks.  .

The word wellness was coined in 1950 by Halbert Dunn, an American physician, who  integrated the words wellbeing and fitness in it .

Today the quality and economic significance of wellness are both guaranteed by health tourism, which integrates the interests of businesses and population lifetstyle programmes.

Wellness, as a branch of economy has been developing extremely dynamically. It is especially true, when considering the increasing significance of beauty industry, nutrition reform, dietary supplements, nature medicine, spas, and wellness hotels. In North America, as well as in Europe, wellness plays a leading role in the economy,  but there are many specialists in Hungary, too, who work in this area.

The creation of the notion of wellness as an optimal health condition, is related to the name of Kenneth H. Cooper, an American sports physician, who elaborated the programme of optimal health and wellbeing. (His book on the topic was published in 1990).  

Cooper defined wellness as a lifestyle. In his opinion our operational harmony and balance have to be realized in three major areas:  

  1. The principle of  ’not too much, not too little’.  Following this motto may result in an even performance.
  2. Doing a min. 20-minute aerobic exercise  3 -4 times a week with the max. pulse rate of  60 -80 %.
  3. Positive nutritional plan. He details the quality and quantity of daily meals as well as the proportion of nutrients. 

Cooper emphasizes the importance of emotional balance, good sleep, regular relaxation and stress relief as well.

Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897) was a German non-medical practitioner who worked on the elaboration of principles of a healthy lifestyle.  The pillars of Kneipp’s philosophy include dietetics, movement therapy, physical and mental harmony and hydrotherapy.

Donald Ardell (a sociologist, who worked in the area of lifestyle and fitness, 1982) promoted wellness, the ambition for positive attitudes, the idea of individual responsibility for our own health, the improvement of our environment, well-balanced lifestyle, self-awareness, and the implementation of personal wellness plans in everybody’s life.

Dunn H. Travis (1896–1975), was an American expert of health statistics. In his opinion the components of wellness include the following:

 1. The individual’s responsibility for his or her own health  

 2. Regular exercises,

 3. Healthy diet,

 4. Avoidance of health risks, moderation in taking drugs

 5. Regular relaxation and stress management

 6. Environmental friendliness( environmental awareness)

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi , a psychologist and educator, 1991, said that  ’ The perfect joy is something that does not happen to us, but it is rather something brought about by us on purpose.’

This idea is present in sports, games, arts and hobby activities as well.

A change in lifestyle is promoted by :

  • techniques for stress relief,
  • techniques for relaxation
  • alternative movement therapies
  • massage therapy
  • nature medicine,
  • nutrition reform
  • beauty care


  • personal training plan
  • health status
  • nutrition and lifestyle counselling
  • creation of wellbeing

Since physical fitness is one of the components of wellness, it needs to be described as well.