The same way we train the body can be the same way we train our mind/brain: always in growth mode. In reality, we are training our mind/brain when we exercise but the question is, are we training it for positive growth?
If I were to ask you, “why do you exercise?” we would hear a variety of answers.
The one common denominator is most of us are trying to improve our health and/or performance. The key word being “improve.” To improve means to “make something better.” Exercise is a physical activity that is typically planned, structured and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning the body. To “improve” our health and/or performance means we follow this structured plan over and over to “condition” the body where we want to see improvements.
The same way we train the body can be the same way we train our mind/brain: always in growth mode. Train your mind and you change your brain. This is called Neuroplasticity which is the brain’s capacity to change and adapt as the result of our interactions with our environment. In reality, we are training our mind/brain when we exercise but the question is, are we training it for positive growth?
The relationship between breath rates, heart rates and the optimal brain function.
Stimulating the vagus nerve to improve psychological behavior patterns.
Breath and basic brain wave patterns.
Let’s start with our first learning objective. Since we’re trying to learn something new by reading this article, let’s incorporate optimal strategies for growth. Sit up tall with an erect spine. Relax your eyes and jaw. Begin nasal diaphragmatic breathing creating balance between the length, depth and pace of your inhale and exhale. Breathe as slowly as you can and continue reading. Notice how controlling the length, depth and pace in a calm manner improves concentration and the integration of information. Let’s continue…
"The length, depth and pace of our inhale and exhale dictates the response between our heart and brain."
Imagine this, you give your client a training sequence. They raise their eyes and look at you in disbelief. They’re not convinced they can accomplish what you just asked them to do; or, you have the client that says, “bring it” and will push themselves beyond healthy boundaries. Which is better thinking? NEITHER!
In either scenario, the heart rate is going up, breathing rates are becoming shallow and rapid, thoughts are probably racing and we’ve signaled the brain for a sympathetic response. The length, depth and pace of our inhale and exhale dictates the response between our heart and brain. The longer and slower the inhale, the less sympathetic (or cooler) its response. The longer and slower the exhale, the greater improvement of Heart Rate Variability (HRV) health, which is the study of the intervals between consecutive heart beats. The fields of neuroscience and, specifically, neurocardiology have revealed some amazing research on the significant relationship between the autonomic nervous system and cardiovascular mortality (Fan, et al., 2011). Since many of our clients are likely already in this system when they came in for their training session, it’s extremely important that our training aims to reduce physical, mental and emotional stress.