What Are Health Skills

Health skills are the ability for adaptive and positive behavior that helps individuals deal well with everyday life’s demands and obstacles. These skills can be learned, improved, and mastered.

A set of health skills is different for every individual but is generally categorized into personal and social groups.

Personal health skills include the fitness to use healthy behaviors such as nutrition, exercise, self-protection from injury or violence, reduction of substance use risk, and a smoking cessation plan.

Social health skills are the ability to make friends and build relationships. These include empathy, trustworthiness, initiative-taking social competence, and responsibility that result in nonviolence and listening skillfulness so that individuals may demonstrate understanding.

Analyzing Influences:

The concept of health skills has no real theoretical framework. A comprehensive analysis of the literature suggests at least three major influences that can be identified in developing health skills: culture, socioeconomic status (SES), and individual factors.

Healthy behaviors observed in children tend to be learned within a context in which they are relevant to their physical, social, and emotional needs; consequently, reciprocity positively influences behaviors.

Social learning theory states that behaviors are most likely to be changed by modeling from adults who have been successful in their self-directed change efforts (e.g., successfully quitting smoking).

Interpersonal Communication:

Social relationships are one of the most significant determinants of health and well-being due to their strong influence on health behaviors. To improve health, self-efficacy needs to be effective in social interactions.

Social relationships are essential in maintaining and promoting healthy behaviors because they provide an alternative route for targeted messages regarding healthy behaviors.

For example, social support has been shown to influence the impact of interventions in which individuals identify cues that signal risky behavior, such as a joint decision to discontinue smoking or drinking alcohol. Social support may facilitate the use of these cues by increasing self-efficacy and goal attainment.

Practicing Healthful Behaviors:

Healthy behaviors involve using healthy activities and habits that lead to maintenance or prevent relapse of health behaviors.

The idea that we can be taught to change undesirable behavior is a common misconception. The practice of health skills leads people to take an active approach so that the desired behavior may change over time when it becomes second nature within us.

It is not about doing things for the sake of doing something but about developing skills for health and well-being without harming ourselves or others.

Decision Making:

The ability to make decisions is an essential aspect of the practice of health skills because it can lead to improved quality of life.

The decision-making process requires the ability to identify a range of pros and cons regarding a person’s choices and then be able to pick a course of action based on this information.

Individuals with poor decision-making skills may need to receive guidance from others to utilize appropriate decisions when making important life choices, such as smoking cessation or engaging in safe sex practices.

Goal Setting:

The goal-setting process allows individuals to identify personal objectives and then set them out structured. These objectives need to be appropriate to the individual’s age, experience, personal values, and abilities.

However, older people sometimes have difficulty with goal setting because they are more limited in scope and will not focus on what is feasible. This can result in less than desirable outcomes.


Health skills are based on a series of interrelated concepts such as self-efficacy, decision-making, healthy behaviors, and social relationships.

The development of health skills is influenced by culture, SES, and individual characteristics. Health skills are essential in the practice or maintenance of health behaviors.

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