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Constituents of Well-being

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Physical Health

Physical health is the general condition of a person - to be free from illness, injury or pain. Physical health is required to manage morbidity and live a fuller life. 


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Well-being Category



How do ecosystem services contribute to this constituent of well-being?


Maintaining water quality and regulating pests and disease is important to prevent high bacterial levels that can impact human health.

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Humans require clean and safe air and water, as well as the provision of food to maintain their physical health and prevent disease. Sanitation is an important element of physical health. Physical activity, energy and shelter for comfortable temperature control are also necessary to maintain physical health.

The regulation of pests and disease has direct benefits to human health. Many species contain pathogens and viruses (e.g. mosquitoes) that can directly affect, or adapt to affect humans. Natural regulation of pests and disease directly benefits human health through the reduced need for pesticide use and therefore potential exposure to pesticides by applicators. The impacts of pests and disease on human health can be extremely costly (socially and economically). 

People receive improved physical and psychological health from physical activity and direct personal experience of landscapes, seascapes, seasonal changes and nature. For many people (especially those living in cities), outdoor recreation is the primary way that they directly experience nature, seasonal climate changes and the landscapes and seascapes which provide ecosystem services.

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Table 1:The relative magnitude (to other ecosystem services) each ecosystem service contributes to Physical Health.

Ecosystem Service Category Ecosystem Service 0
Provisioning Services
Food products            
Water for Consumption            
Building and Fibre Resources            
Fuel Resources            
Genetic Resources for Cultivated Products            
Biochemical, medicinal and pharmaceutical resources            
Ornamental Resources            
Transport Infrastructure            
Regulating Services
Air Quality            
Habitable Climate            
Water Quality            
Arable Land            
Buffering Against Extremes            
Reduce Pests and Diseases            
Productive Soils            
Noise Abatement            
Cultural Services
Iconic Species            
Cultural Diversity            
Spiritual and Religious Values            
Knowledge Systems            
Aesthetic Values            
Effect on Social Interactions            
Sense of Place            
Iconic Landscapes            
Recreational Opportunities            
Therapeutic Landscapes