The idea behind holistic 360 health is simple: everything is interconnected. What you think, you will feel. What actions you take (or don’t take) affect what you think (and therefore feel).
Even though we live in an age of information overload and quick fixes to health and beauty problems such as pharmaceuticals and plastic surgery, globally the idea of a more holistic approach to health and wellness that includes the body, mind, and our spirit, is growing.
This idea is backed up by science too, with studies showing that physiological stressors, such as inflammation or pain, influence neurotransmitter activity and brain function, potentially leading to mood fluctuations and heightened emotional responses. In layman’s terms, physical health and mental well-being are linked, and each influences and reflects the state of the other. So if one part of the equation is missed, the others won’t be as effective either.
Physically, this involves regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate rest. Mentally, it’s about cultivating mindfulness, managing stress, and seeking support when needed. Social well-being needs positive interactions, and relationships that provide emotional and psychological sustenance. Lastly, spiritual well-being, transcends religious connotations, and is about finding purpose, and understanding our place in the larger scheme of things.
Life is motion, and our bodies are inherently designed for movement. The evolutionary trajectory of humans, from hunting and gathering to migrating across vast terrains has always included one common factor: movement. Yet, since the development of computers and typewriters, many of us are has confined to desks, couches, and screens during the day, creating a paradigm shift in how we spend our days.
Research from the World Health Organization indicates that sedentary behavior is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, with the issue often termed ‘sitting disease’, being linked to a plethora of health concerns such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
While the psychological implications are alarming. Sedentarism is associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety, as per studies published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Which takes us back to the earlier statement of thoughts creating feelings and lack of action creating thoughts. In essence, the absence of regular physical movement can create a feedback loop where physical discomfort influences mental health, which in turn discourages physical activity, perpetuating the cycle.
Every action, be it a step, a stretch, or a lift, can contribute to our overall health. For instance, walking, often overlooked as a beneficial exercise, holds multifaceted benefits. A study from Harvard Medical School shows that walking can help regulate blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, and even reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Better still, the rhythmic nature of walking, the synchronized breath, and stride, make it a form of moving meditation, which can improve mood and reduce stress levels.
Incorporating brief breaks during work hours, especially in jobs that demand prolonged sitting, is essential. Stretching not only counteracts the detrimental effects of continuous sitting but also rejuvenates the mind.
Mental health is foundational to our overall well-being, encompassing our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and some thought leaders believe that our thoughts have a profound ability to shape our reality.
This perspective emphasizes that by altering our habitual thoughts and emotions (ie. from negative to positive), we can significantly influence our personal experiences and life trajectories.
Emotional well-being is deeply anchored not just in fleeting emotions but in our consistent patterns of thought and belief. The human brain’s remarkable ability to adapt and restructure itself through conscious intention and practices like meditation, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, can lead people from being tethered to past experiences to actively designing their futures in a different way.
At the psychological level, the way we perceive our surroundings and our role within it greatly impacts our experiences. This notion underscores the idea that our internal states, when harmonized with intention (ie. to get fit) and elevated emotions, can resonate with and alter our external environment for the better.
Social interactions, too, play an indispensable role in our mental health. While much emphasis is given to the power of individual thought, there’s also an acknowledgment of the collective energy that emerges when groups converge with shared intentions and aspirations. Whether that is a run in the park, a breathwork session, or just a sit down dinner with friends.
Dance and Restorative Exercise
Activities like aerobics, dance, or pilates engage multiple muscle groups, promoting cardiovascular health, lung capacity, and muscle tone. These activities trigger the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin – neurotransmitters that play a pivotal role in mood regulation.
Restorative exercises, such as Tai Chi and Pilates, that prioritize controlled movements, balance, and flexibility over high-intensity or rapid motions are also fantastic ways to stay active and strong.
Contrary to traditional strength training, these restorative practices focus on the body’s deep stabilizing muscles and help improve muscle strength, especially in the core region.
Tai Chi, often termed ‘moving meditation,’ emphasizes fluid, deliberate movements and can lead to improved balance, reduced fall risk, and enhanced functional mobility in older adults.
Both Tai Chi and Pilates promote flexibility and joint health. The stretching and elongation involved in these exercises can reduce muscle stiffness and enhance range of motion, improving flexibility and decreasing pain in conditions like osteoarthritis.
Stretching and Weights
Our bodies need a diverse range of activities for optimal function, and stretching and weight training represent two sides of the same coin, each offering unique benefits.
Stretching improves flexibility, ensuring joints move through their full range. This increased range of motion not only enhances athletic performance but also reduces the risk of injuries. Furthermore, stretching, especially practices like yoga, help strengthen a more powerful mind-body connection. The deep, focused breathing combined with poses releases tension, both physical and mental, promoting relaxation and clarity.
Weight training, on the other hand, helps build strength and resilience. While for some the aesthetic side of having muscles is part of the appeal, functional strength also aids daily activities. From carrying groceries to climbing stairs, strength training just makes life generally easier. Additionally, it has metabolic benefits, since muscles are metabolically active tissues, meaning they burn calories even at rest. By increasing muscle mass, weight training boosts metabolism, aiding in weight management – while the stress these exercises places on bones also helps increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
The benefits of meditation have also been the subject of numerous scientific studies, and have shown that regular meditation can lead to increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory. Meditation also showed a decrease in brain cell volume in the amygdala, responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress. Beyond the physical changes in the brain, deep meditation can lead to profound insights, heightened self-awareness, and a deep-seated sense of inner peace.
Techniques like biofeedback and neurofeedback, which use electronic monitoring to convey information about physiological processes, have been employed to achieve states of deep meditation, previously only attainable by seasoned monks and institutions like the HeartMath Institute have studied the heart-brain coherence during meditation, to understand better how emotions and heart rhythm patterns impact cognitive function and physical health.
Nature immersion, often termed ‘forest bathing’ in Japanese culture, has been shown to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness, and increase concentration.
Spending time in nature isn’t just a recreational activity. Research from Stanford University suggests that walking in natural environments can lead to decreased rumination, a factor linked to mental health risks.
During the study, two groups of participants walked for 90 minutes, one along a four-lane highway with heavy traffic, and the other in a grassland area with oak trees and shrubs. Researchers measured heart rates and respiration rates, performed brain scans, and surveyed participants before and after treatment.
While there was little difference in physiological conditions between the two groups, there were significant changes in the brain. Participants who walked in nature showed a decrease in neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with rumination – repetitive thinking focused on negative emotions – when compared to those who walked in an urban setting.
Natural landscapes are often incredibly cathartic for those suffering from stress or anxiety too, and bodies of water, in particular, whether they be lakes or oceans, have been associated with emotional healing and introspection.
Engaging with a community, especially in acts of service, has been shown to have tangible health benefits. Volunteering, as per a study published in BMC Public Health, is associated with lower depression, increased well-being, and a significant reduction in mortality risk. With participants in the study that listed social connection or altruistic values as their predominant motive more likely to be alive ten years later compared with non-volunteers.
Being part of spiritual or community groups can offer emotional support, a sense of belonging, and a shared purpose. It strengthens the bond among individuals and provides an avenue for personal growth and mutual support.
Key components of social health include:
- Effective Communication: The ability to express oneself clearly, listen actively, and understand others.
- Empathy: The capacity to understand and share the feelings and perspectives of others.
- Interpersonal Skills: Skills that facilitate interactions with others, such as conflict resolution, active listening, and understanding non-verbal cues.
- Building and Maintaining Relationships: Forming deep connections with others and nurturing those bonds over time.
- Social Adaptability: The ability to adjust to different social situations, understanding social norms, and acting accordingly.
- Support Systems: Having a network of individuals, be it family, friends, or community members, who provide emotional, physical, and mental support.
- Community Involvement: Engaging in community activities or services, which fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.
Nutrition and Hydration
The saying “You are what you eat” holds profound truth, especially in the context of holistic health.
Our dietary choices serve as the primary interface between the environment and our internal systems, influencing everything from cellular function to mental clarity. It’s not just about consuming food either, but rather ensuring that what we eat is rich in essential nutrients. Vegetables and fruits, replete with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, combat oxidative stress and inflammation, two primary culprits behind chronic diseases. Lean proteins, from sources like poultry, fish, beans, and tofu, provide essential amino acids that serve as the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and cellular structures. Whole grains, contrary to their refined counterparts, retain their nutrient profile and provide a steady source of energy, supporting sustained cognitive and physical performance.
Keeping hydrated is equally important. Comprising about 60% of the human body, water plays a pivotal role in virtually every physiological process. Adequate water intake aids in digestion, ensuring that nutrients from the food are effectively absorbed. It supports detoxification, facilitating the elimination of waste products through the kidneys. Furthermore, water is essential for temperature regulation, ensuring metabolic processes occur optimally. An often-overlooked benefit of hydration is its role in brain function, since even mild dehydration can lead to impaired attention, memory, and mood.
How Sprintcrowd helps with 360 Health
Sprintcrowd is a platform that offers a variety of activities to suit every workplace culture and personality. Our platform is built to engage managers and team leaders in establishing a culture of 360 fitness and health in the workplace.
Our coach-led activities, meditations, spark events, and challenges help promote health, wellbeing, team spirit and cooperation among colleagues, encouraging everyone to support and motivate each other to reach personal or combined goals.
All challenges and sessions are effort-based rather than performance-based, meaning that everyone can participate and contribute points to a constantly updated leaderboard.
Organizations can leverage a blend of lectures, live training sessions, and on-demand video classes to provide their employees with a well-rounded approach to holistic well-being. Want to know more? Book a Demo with us and we will show you why ‘Moving Connected’ can be such a powerful catalyst for change in your workplace!