How exercise can regulate your nervous system



In the fast paced lives we live with constant stimulus from technology, minimal down time, poor food and hydration etc. As a result our nervous systems can be wired to be sympathetically tuned.

There are two major branches of the Autonomic Nervous System. The sympathetic branch is how many of us operate through our day and is often likened to being in "fight or flight." The parasympathetic branch of nervous system is the opposite and is where we "rest and digest." A healthy system is one that can flick into fight flight when needed, but then revert back to rest and digest, so that we can maintain resilience and wellness.

When we spend far too much time running around like a headless chook in fight or flight mode, our nervous system can become 'sympathetically toned, meaning it's harder for us to revert back to rest and digest. The longer this stress cycle goes on, the harder it can be for the person to relax and switch gears into their parasympathetic system. A heart stuck in this type of stress system will have low heart rate variability, and look erratic. Low heart rate variability is a vital predictor of poor health and a lack of resilience.

Great strategies would be helping the person relax with breathing, meditation, great food, hydration and movement of course. Sometimes however it can be very useful to add further stress to their system, by pushing their heart rate intensity despite their lack of readiness or resilience. In some cases overloading the body and pushing hard, will mean that after their training session their heart will take on a more rhythmical and coherent pattern. In other words they will heave increased heart rate variability, and coherence which is a key indicator of wellness and resilience.

This is a key reason we use heart rate monitors. Although ours don't read heart rate variability, they do give us a powerful indication of how well the person is adjusting to the high intensity. As long as they are feeling good, and recovering well and not suffering from fatigue or pain, then a little bit of positive exercise stress might be just what the doctor ordered!

#heartrate #stress #wellness

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