Exercise As Part Of A Holistic Approach to Health

Enjoy a gorgeous September beach run!  Naples Beach, Florida.  Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II

We hear the term ‘holistic health’ a lot these days. This refers to processes that positively impact the mind as well as the body.

When we talk about a holistic approach to health, we might consider physical activity as one element, because we know that regular exercise positively affects the body.

However, this activity can promote dual aspects of our well-being because exercise benefits not only the physical body, but also mental and emotional well-being.

The World Health Organization describes mental health as:

“a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

By this definition, it is apparent that mental health and physical health are interconnected

When we are suffering physically it can lead to depression or anxiety, and people who suffer from mental health issues can be less inclined to participate in a daily exercise routine. It can be a vicious cycle.

Break the cycle.

The great news is that you are 100% in control.

You have the absolute power to break this cycle and use exercise holistically to benefit both your physical and mental health.

Regular exercise benefits our mental health by:

  • increasing serotonin and endorphins in our brains, which make us feel good,
  • improving sleep,
  • increasing self-esteem, and
  • focusing our attention on activity rather than negative thoughts.

In addition, exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling memory, and has a positive effect on the connections between nerve cells in the brain, helping prevent the onset of disease and cognitive decline.

We’ve seen clear evidence that exercise has real impacts on the body and those benefits extend to the mind.

We tend to be more aware of the multitude of physical benefits exercise provides including:

  • Weight loss and/or weight maintenance,
  • Improved cardiovascular capacity,
  • Increased strength and a reduced likelihood of heart disease,
  • Stress management, and
  • Protection against the onset of neurodegenerative diseases by (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Prion disease, Motor neuron diseases and more) promoting optimal brain health.

With intense physical activities such as running, a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class or a boxing for fitness session, the body is flooded with oxygen, and muscles worked to their limits.

From a holistic stance, you can’t have one without the other. The focus of a holistic approach to health is on improving both mental and physical aspects.

Physical exercise can improve our mental health in a multitude of ways, and improving our mental health can put us in the frame of mind to do more exercise. Now that’s a win-win.

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Let's go on this journey together and change your life as always, “Practice with Purpose and Live with Passion!”



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