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Exercise for your nervous system

This opinion isn’t necessarily going to be popular… If you spend most of your day ‘switched on’, and ‘stressed’ and are doing intense, high-energy activities, you are doing yourself more harm than good (I am living testament to that!)

Do you use exercise as a ‘stress buster’ or as a way to process your emotions? 

Exercise is amazing medicine… as long as it’s the right kind of exercise at the right time (just like any medicine). 

You have had a shit day, someone has upset you, you are angry/frustrated/stressed… What do you do? 

For many years, I hit the gym. I got on my spin bike. I went for a run. I lifted heavy weights. I went to boxing circuits. And then I was teaching 20+ high intense classes over and above that each week.  

These are all GREAT exercises EXCEPT when your body is stuck in the sympathetic nervous system. (Sympathetic being your fight/flight/action, parasympathetic rest/digest/connect). 

Intense exercise causes inflammation in your body – acute inflammation, which is what you want because that’s what makes us stronger! But, if you are living in a stressed/switched-on state, you will most likely have low-level chronic inflammation (if you have allergies, eczema, psoriasis, IBS, IBD, endometriosis asthma, fibromyalgia, acne, disrupted sleep, obesity, PCOS, etc you are living with chronic inflammation). Add the exercise inflammation to the chronic inflammation and you ramp up your problems.  

What can you do? 

You could incorporate more grounding exercises with a body-mind-breath connection to calm and soothe your nervous system before stimulating it; Pilates, Yoga, and a walk in nature are all excellent options. 

If you don’t have time to add in more classes, and you really love the high you get from the higher intensity exercises, you could: spend 3 minutes diaphragmatic breathing, walk around the block mindfully breathing, take your shoes off and ground yourself in the grass or in the sand/dirt. Also, you could make your sessions lower intensity, and take longer rests within your session. 

What is your favourite exercise/activity? 

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