3 Integrative Medicine Exercises That Better Your Mental Health

yoga, meditation

If you’re tired of feeling rushed when you go to the doctor, you may want to consider a physician who practices integrative medicine. It’s an approach that meshes traditional medicine with evidence-based interventions from a variety of scientific domains.

Integrative medicine is in tune with the full range of factors that impact your health: mind, body, spirit, and community. Dr. Lee at Refresh Rx Hawaii pairs conventional medicine with complementary approaches from alternative medicine and scientific findings related to diet, fitness, spiritual life, and level of connection to community.

Importance of physical activity

Scientists and physicians agree that exercise is one of the foundations of good health. If you’re physically active, health researchers say you have less risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, and cancer. Well-designed studies have concluded that exercise is about as effective as some often-prescribed medications that treat leading causes of death — hypertension, heart failure, stroke, and diabetes.

If you don’t like going to the gym and pumping iron, you may find other forms of exercise more enjoyable. Integrative medicine includes exercises that connect the mind and body.

Following are three exercises that are part of the holistic approach to your health at Refresh Rx Hawaii. Depending on your needs, Dr. Lee may recommend one or more of these integrative medicine exercises.

Tai chi

Western medicine is beginning to embrace many Eastern approaches to medicine. Tai chi, a form of exercise that connects mind and body, has been practiced in China for centuries. It combines movement, meditation, and deep breathing.

Many studies, including several led by Harvard Medical School, agree that tai chi has health benefits. This practice aids your balance, which in turn helps prevent falls, especially in seniors; increases muscle strength; improves heart health; and enhances your sense of well-being. Professional athletes practice tai chi to help them heal from sports injuries.

Tai chi can help decrease symptoms of mild or moderate depression. Some Veterans Affairs facilities have patients practice tai chi to help with depression, PTSD, and related conditions.


Yoga originated from a Hindu spiritual practice. Today’s yoga focuses on breathing techniques, meditation/mindfulness, and various physical postures that involve stretching and body alignment.

Like tai chi, yoga focuses on the mind-body connection. Practicing yoga over a period of time can improve coordination and even memory. The intense focus during yoga places your mind squarely in the present. It can help clear out negative, repetitive thoughts.

Your body is a machine with interrelated parts. If one part isn’t functioning well, it affects another body part. If your hip muscles are tight, your legs may not be properly aligned, leading to pain in your knees. Tight hamstrings can cause back pain. Yoga can improve symptoms associated with musculoskeletal problems.  

The stretching and other movements involved in yoga activate cartilage, which can calm arthritis symptoms and improve mobility and flexibility. When a joint reaches its full range of motion, new fluid with important nutrients can soak into the cartilage.

As you become more flexible from various yoga poses, you’ll likely notice a reduction in joint pain. Research has found that certain yoga movements can also improve scoliosis. Yoga’s advantages are numerous; one article lists 38 benefits.


Like yoga, Pilates focuses on the mind-body connection, body alignment, breathing, and precise, focused movements. The founder, Joseph Pilates, believed that your core — in the middle of your body and the muscles on the front, back, and sides — is your center of energy, so every class has a focus on the core. If you do Pilates regularly, you’ll increase your strength and mobility and develop lean muscle. You may be more attuned to your body and feel calmer, responding better to stress.

Call or send a message on this website to Dr. Lee at Refresh Rx Hawaii for a new patient-doctor experience that provides a holistic focus on your health.

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