What is physical health?

Physical health can be defined as the normal functioning of the body. Representing one dimension of total well-being, it's about how your body grows, feels and moves, how you care for it, and what you put into it.

Pillars of Physical Health

Maintaining good physical health decreases your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Being physically healthy also helps you to manage life's challenges by protecting you against fatigue, injury and illness.

Physical health is closely linked to mental health and an integral part of leading a healthy lifestyle and enjoying life. This is often taken for granted and it isn’t until we are sick, ill or injured that we put the time and energy in to looking after our physical health.  It is important to regularly monitor your overall physical health and getting a check-up if you (or someone you know) are concerned.

The four pillars of health are Sleep (and recovery), Nutrition, Physical Activity and Connection.  The NZDF Health Hub provides everything you need to know about strengthening each of these pillars. Also check out the Staying on top of your game booklet.


Sleep (and recovery)

Sleep is one of the most under-rated tools to enhance health and performance. Getting adequate sleep helps to prevent excess weight gain, heart disease and increased illness and disease.

Rest and recovery after stressful activity, both mentally and physically, is also important as it enables the body to repair itself and be fit and ready for another day.

More information can be found in the Sleeping well section.


Adequate and appropriate nutrition helps support performance, recovery, mental clarity, and overall mood.

Like a vehicle, the body performs best with the right fuel. If you put regular gasoline in a Formula 1 car, it will struggle to compete with the rest of the field and will likely end up making an early pitstop.

Good nutrition provides the body with the nutrients and fuel it needs to perform and recover. It also reduces stress and inflammation in the body, which is associated with injury, illness and mental health issues.

For detailed advice, see the Nutrition and supplements section. And check out this video explaining the surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health.

The surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health

Physical Activity

The body is designed to move. Lack of exercise decreases range of motion within the body's joints causing pain and dysfunction. It also contributes to a decline in physical, mental and physiological health. Sedentary behaviours can lead to a variety of health consequences including weight gain, type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mood disorders.

On the flip side, too much exercise and stress can have an adverse effect, making the body susceptible to burnout and a compromised immune system. The body functions best with moderate amounts of work, stress and activity, coupled with rest to allow the body to repair and build stronger.