Strength Training for Holistic Health

posted by

Dr. Mandy Patterson

If there’s one treatment protocol that a functional medicine practitioner will always recommend, it’s exercise. I know, it may not be your cup of tea. You’re not alone, either. About 75% of adults in the United States aren’t getting the weekly amount of recommended exercise. There’s just one problem – strength training is SO important for holistic health!


In this article, I’m going to share the thought process behind holistic health, the benefits of strength training, and how to get started with bodyweight exercises. 


Speaking of strength training, did anyone else watch the Olympics? This year it seems like just the thing we need to come together as a community and cheer each other on. My favorite part is watching all the athletes from different sports and spotting the differences between their body types. 


A track sprinter has a completely different body type than a gymnast, and a weight lifter has their own unique physique as well! While they look different, they are all still competing at the top of their game, and in the best shape of their life for their sport’s different needs. 


The point is, your body at optimal health may look different than your neighbors, and that doesn’t mean you’re not both healthy. I think it’s extremely important to keep a healthy perspective about body image when talking about strength training. 


Now that we are on the same page, let’s talk about holistic health! 


What is Holistic Health?

What does holistic health have to do with strength training and exercise? I’m glad you asked! The holistic approach to health is about caring for the whole person. That includes your physical, mental, spiritual, and social needs. Practitioners of holistic health believe that when one of these aspects of your health is unwell, it can adversely affect the others. 


Holistic health is all about healing the individual with noninvasive, lifestyle changes and mindset interventions. Through natural medicine, we encourage the body to heal itself. 

Strength training is the culmination of a noninvasive, lifestyle change that impacts all aspects of holistic health – mind, body, spirit, and social needs.


happy woman exercise



Benefits of Strength Training 

I know what you’re thinking. I’m about to tell you to hit the pavement once a day for hours of cardio. Ouch, that doesn’t even sound fun! You can stop cringing because we are talking about strength training, which is different than cardio. There are advantages to cardio, but there are also benefits unique to strength training.


For example, some of the research-backed benefits include: 


  • Improved physical performance
  • Movement control 
  • Functional independence 
  • Cognitive abilities 
  • Self-esteem 
  • Prevention and management of type 2 diabetes 
  • Improved insulin sensitivity 
  • Enhanced cardiovascular health 
  • Better bone density and development 
  • Reduced low back pain 
  • Less discomfort from arthritis and fibromyalgia 
  • Skeletal muscle health 


Let’s talk about a few of the specific benefits of strength training to your health, especially if you are a woman. 





One reason many women avoid the gym is due to the idea that they may become “bulky.” That’s actually very hard to achieve. Women have 10-13 times less testosterone than men, which is the precursor for muscle growth. On the other hand, the human growth hormone (HGH) is a slimming and muscle-building hormone important for muscle recovery, repair, and maintaining a lean and healthy body. The three ways to restore HGH are sleep, protein intake, and strength training. 


Bone Density 

According to Harvard, at around age 30, we start losing as much as 3 to 5 percent of lean muscle mass per decade thanks to aging. While we can’t stop the damage of time, we can certainly reduce it! Multiple studies show that strength training builds bone for women when compared to a loss of bone density in those who don’t train with resistance.  One study found that just 30 minutes twice a week of high-intensity resistance and impact training improved bone density, structure, and strength in postmenopausal women with low bone.


Body Image 

Everyone cares about their body image. It’s hard not to in today’s world, we so often get caught up in the comparison game on social media. The truth is, strength training is one of the most effective ways to change body composition and shape. Lifting weights increases lean muscle mass and promotes fat loss in people of all ages. If you’re unhappy with your body image, strength training is something you should consider. 


Mobility and Movement 

Resistance training is often focused on full-body, functional exercises that use all the same movements our ancestors did. Some of those movements include squatting, pressing, pulling, jumping, throwing, hanging, swinging, and carrying. These movements promote coordination and mobility, in addition to strength! 


How To Get Started Strength Training For Holistic Health

When you incorporate strength training into your holistic health regimen you will experience greater confidence and wellbeing. Not only that, it’s fun! When you decide to get started, look for a certified holistic fitness professional. It’s important to work with someone who will teach you the movements and exercises, especially if you are just starting. 


woman dumbbells

There are so many pieces of equipment you can use for strength training like dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, exercise machines, or medicine balls. It can be overwhelming, but the great news is you can also do simple bodyweight exercises. Again, these are great for the beginner and can be scaled up for harder difficulty.


Maybe you’re not ready to commit to a full program but you want to start incorporating more exercises into your daily routine. Here are several bodyweight exercises you can implement right now: 


  • Push-ups 
  • Squats 
  • Forward lunges 
  • Backward lunges 
  • Step-ups 
  • Crunches 
  • Dips 
  • Side planks 
  • Spider crawl 


Work With A Holistic Health Coach 

Are you ready to start your journey towards optimal health? As a Certified Holistic Health Coach, I will encourage you in your fitness plan and address lifestyle factors like nutrition, stress, sleep, hydration, and posture as these can have a huge impact on your goals.


Send me a message on my Contact page to learn more! 


Mandy Patterson

Mandy Patterson

Dr. Mandy


Hi, I’m Mandy, a Functional Naturopath specializing in Fertility & the Founder of a Boutique Fertility Focused Wellness Practice.


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