top of page
  • Writer's pictureMonica Pema

What is a Holistic Approach to Health?

by Monica Pema, July 2024

Monica Pema, Mind & Motion, Charcoal logo, Pema

Embracing Holistic Health: Bridging the Gap Between Mind, Body, and Movement in 2024


In contemporary healthcare, there's a growing recognition of the interconnectedness between mental and physical health, emphasising the importance of adopting a holistic approach to well-being. This shift towards holistic health acknowledges the profound impact of psychological factors on physical health and underscores the necessity of addressing the mind-body connection for optimal wellness. As we delve into 2024, integrating evidence from kinesiology, psychology, and neuroscience provides a robust foundation for understanding and promoting holistic health.


Historical Context: Cartesian Dualism and Its Impact

The Cartesian dualism proposed by René Descartes in the 17th century laid the foundation for the separation of the mind and body. This reductionist perspective has permeated healthcare systems, leading to a compartmentalised approach to health that fails to recognise the intricate interplay between psychological, physiological, and social factors.


Advancements in Kinesiology: The Role of Movement

Kinesiology, the study of human movement, underscores the interconnectedness between physical activity and mental well-being. Movement not only influences physical health outcomes but also plays a crucial role in regulating mood, reducing stress, and enhancing cognitive function. Recent evidence highlights the benefits of movement-based interventions in improving mental health outcomes. For example, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 2022 demonstrated that exercise interventions significantly reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety across various populations. Reference, Singh, B., Olds, T., Curtis, R., Dumuid, D., Virgara, R., Watson, A., ... & Maher, C. (2023). Effectiveness of physical activity interventions for improving depression, anxiety, and distress: an overview of systematic reviews. British journal of sports medicine, 57(18), 1203-1209.


Psychological Perspectives: Influence of Emotions and Thoughts

Psychological states significantly impact movement patterns and physical performance. Emotions, thoughts, and beliefs can influence movement quality, motivation, and adherence to exercise regimens. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology in 2023 found that individuals with high levels of self-efficacy were more likely to adhere to exercise programs and achieve better physical health outcomes. Reference, (Gammage, K., Bennett, E., Crozier, A., Ede, A., Hoffman, M., Lee, S., Leisterer, S., Locke, S., McEwan, D., Mellano, K., Pila, E., & Stork, M. (2023). Digest. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 45(5), 297-301. Retrieved Jun 29, 2024, from


Neuroscientific Insights: Mind-Body Connection at the Neural Level

Advancements in neuroscience have explained the complex interactions between the brain, nervous system, and movement control systems. Neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reorganise and adapt in response to experiences, underscores the dynamic interplay between psychological experiences and neurobiological mechanisms. A study with, Melis, M., Schroyen, G., Pollefeyt, J., Raes, F., Smeets, A., Sunaert, S., ... & Van der Gucht, K. (2022). The impact of mindfulness-based interventions on brain functional connectivity: a systematic review. Mindfulness, 13(8), 1857-1875, demonstrated that mindfulness meditation induces structural and functional changes in the brain associated with improved emotional regulation and stress resilience.


Biopsychosocial Model: Comprehensive Understanding of Health

The biopsychosocial model of health emphasises the interconnectedness of biological, psychological, and social factors in shaping health outcomes. This holistic perspective underscores the need for integrated approaches to healthcare that address the whole person.


Implications for Health and Care Practices: Integrating Approaches

Practical strategies for promoting holistic health, may include integrating evidence-based interventions into broader health and care practices. Additionally, fostering supportive environments that prioritise physical activity, movement diversity, and social connections can promote holistic well-being across the lifespan.


Conclusion: Embracing Holistic Health in 2024

As we navigate the complexities of health and care in 2024, integrating evidence from kinesiology, psychology, and neuroscience is essential for promoting holistic health. By recognising and addressing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and movement, we can modernise health and care delivery, improve patient outcomes, and cultivate a culture of well-being that goes beyond Cartesian dualism. By embracing a holistic approach to health and wellness, lead the way for a healthier, happier, more resilient society and future generations.


Here are some practical ways we promote holistic health:


  • Integrate movement into mental health care: we suggest activities that encourage motion like exercise, yoga, and dance in treatment plans improving both psychological and physical health, Druss, B. G., & Goldman, H. H. (2018). Integrating health and mental health services: a past and future history. American Journal of Psychiatry, 175(12), 1199-1204.


  • Practice mind-body techniques: Mindfulness meditation, tai chi, and qigong can boost self-awareness, reduce stress, and improve movement.


  • Create supportive environments: Encourage physical activity and diverse movement experiences throughout life to promote well-being.


  • Foster interdisciplinary collaboration: We work with holistic care providers, to create comprehensive plans.


  • Educate and empower individuals: We teach people about the benefits of movement for physical, emotional, energy and mental health, encouraging them to take charge of their well-being, Adams, N., & , D. M. (2004). Treatment planning for person-centred care: The road to mental health and addiction recovery. Elsevier.


We look forward to connecting with like-minded individuals who are as committed to holistic well-being and continuous learning as you are.


At Pema Mind & Motion, we’re about more than just educating—we’re about inspiring, nurturing, and transforming. We believe in the power of connection, the beauty of your original nature, and the incredible potential within every individual.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page