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Complete Wellness: Understanding the Importance of Holistic Fitness Beyond Physical Training

November 01, 2023 6 min read

Complete Wellness: Understanding the Importance of Holistic Fitness Beyond Physical Training

As you remain committed to your physical fitness routine, it can be easy to walk around with the feeling that you are immune to health compromises. Through intense cardio or weight training, sometimes it feels as if we can rule the world. Yet, when there is not enough focus on committing to the big picture but rather just a small snapshot of it, things can get imbalanced.

Maintaining physical fitness requires a full spectrum of applications to carve out a well-rounded quality of life. Lifting weights or maintaining ten-mile runs can be highly impressive, but if you don’t give attention to the other essentials, there can be a lopsidedness that may eventually take a toll in one way or another and impact your ability to enjoy optimal health.

Combining holistic fitness with your physical fitness routine might just be the recipe you need to navigate future obstacles (physically, emotionally, and mentally). AFT Fitness Coaching helps you embrace this combination to achieve a well-rounded offensive so you can back up that original feeling of walking around with impervious immunity.

Shut Down Before You Start Up

The importance of deep sleep is paramount to maintaining a well-oiled machine. When we lack sleep, the rug gets pulled out from underneath, zapping our gumption. It is easy to lose motivation, weaken willpower, and skip exercising when sleep is challenged. Sleep loss can brew inconsistent training which leads to more unhealthy eating and can easily sabotage your goals.

Sleep and exercise have an interesting relationship, with each influencing the other. Exercise helps you sleep better while consistent, quality sleep improves athletic performance.

On the other hand, lack of exercise can contribute to poor sleep and researchers have found that “sleep disturbances could also impair a person's cognitive performance or their capacity for exercise and increase the risk of exercise-induced injuries either during extreme and/or prolonged exercise or during team sports” (1).

If you are struggling to sleep and still trying to maintain a good physical fitness routine, you could certainly be taxing your body way more than you think.

Research on the ‘Effects of Curtailed Sleep on Cardiac Stress Biomarkers following High-Intensity Exercise’ reports that “We examined healthy young participants to determine whether a few nights of short sleep duration alter the effects of acute exercise on these blood biomarkers…Recurrent sleep restriction may increase the cardiac stress response to acute high-intensity exercise in healthy young individuals” (2).

There are a vast amount of studies on sleep and how it affects the body, with recent science showing how vital sleep is to future cognitive functioning, especially in old age.

It has been found that when you sleep, your body “cleans” debris called amyloid plaques out of the brain. If REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep does not occur on a regular basis then these plaques can remain and potentially lead to forms of brain compromise.

A study from the Department of Neurology at the University of New Mexico stated “Middle-aged or older adults who self-report sleep-wake disorders are at an increased risk for incident dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer disease” (3).

The brain response to sleep is essential for healthy elder years but it also ties in to your current health, particularly if you are on a good conditioning protocol. Built up amyloid plaque in the brain could compromise normal functioning, but keeping physically fit may help.

Researchers from the University of Zurich, Switzerland looked at how amyloid plaque affected normal behavior and how it could be reduced through physical fitness, concluding that “Even in exceptional aging, high amyloid load may subtly influence personality and quality of life.

Our findings support a close relationship between high physical activity and low amyloid-deposition and underscore the importance of extracurricular activities for executive functions” (4).

At AFT Fitness Coaching we go beyond looking at just the physical and, instead, take the complete individual into consideration. We recommend good sleep hygiene which helps you get great quality sleep so you can reach personal goals, in the gym, on the road and throughout your life.

The Right Fuel

Ask most people working out and they will tell you they have a “healthy diet”. Yet, if you really breakdown what most people eat there is a real fake sense of well-being. Maintaining adequate and appropriate nutrition takes good information and individual response. This means knowing food combinations and consumption times that are best for you.

Maintaining a balanced diet will fuel the drive you need to attain long-term goals such as weight management, muscle building, and improved stamina. As resilient as the body is, continued imbalance of proper nutrition can cause unneeded stress.

This is why nutritional balance matters, to utilize all your body can manage and be able to improve upon as well. Just the educated consumption of proper protein is one example of the importance of adequate and appropriate nutrition.

A study from McGill University looked at The Effects of Dietary Protein Supplementation on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Aerobic Capacity and reported that “Protein ingestion after an acute bout of concurrent exercise further increases myofibrillar [muscle fibers]...There is some evidence that protein supplementation during longer-term training further enhances concurrent training-mediated increases in skeletal muscle mass and strength/power…” (5).

While working with a knowledgeable AFT Fitness Coaching nutrition professional, you can create a balanced dietary plan to get the most out of your daily sustenance. 

Our nutrition coaches are capable of guiding you toward a balanced, more optimal diet individually designed for your body and mind - which is an essential ingredient in attaining the transformative state you may be yearning for.

Mind Your Mind, Recover in Kind

Physical, spiritual, and mental health are also intertwined. You may have used exercise as a way to improve your mood and refresh your mind after a rough day at work or an intense situation in a relationship. You may notice that your outlook is improved after a good workout session or, from the opposite side, that it is difficult to begin exercising when you are feeling sad or depressed. When you pay attention to all aspects of health, you will reap the benefits.

When it comes to physical fitness, meditation (sometimes called mindfulness) is the great equalizer. Whether short spurts of deep breathing and letting go for five minutes or an hour of diving in, meditation opens the lens while shutting down the ego. This can allow for all sorts of benefits that coincide with your workout routines.

Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, reported that “…recent research has explored how mindfulness may enhance athletic performance, improve athlete mental health, reduce injury risk, and perhaps even facilitate recovery from injury” (6).

Consider adding in something like yoga, which creates good elongated stretching and balancing as well as meditative breathing and calming. This is one example of the mental and spiritual wellness that can help maintain an equilibrium between your physical and mental fitness.

According to a multi-national study of the ‘Health-Related Quality of Life Outcomes With Regular Yoga and Heartfulness Meditation Practice’, it was reported that “Overall, a yoga and meditation practice was found to be an effective tool for promoting HRQOL [Health-Related Quality of Life]. Regular yoga and meditation practice was associated with factors promoting health and well-being, with long-term meditation practice associated with increased benefits” (7).

Mindfulness is a good addition to a recovery protocol. Recovery is an integral part of maintaining optimal performance. Another excellent recovery option that works hand-in-hand with mindfulness is working with a massage therapist trained in deep tissue and sports massage. This is holistic fitness through muscle manipulation which improves:

  • Circulation

  • Fascia release

  • Detoxification

  • Anti-inflammatory response

  • Trigger point release

  • Range-of-Motion (ROM)

According to research on post-recovery techniques, it was concluded that “Massage seems to be the most effective method for reducing DOMS [delayed onset muscle soreness] and perceived fatigue” (8).

By embracing better sleep habits, cleaner nutrition, yoga, meditation, and massage you will soon understand (or may have already discovered) why fitness should include more than just physical fitness.

Our trained professionals at AFT Fitness Coaching know what it takes to incorporate holistic fitness and physical fitness into your life. With clearly laid out plans, positive affirmations, and supportive encouragement we can help you become that well-rounded athlete you deserve to be.

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