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The Autonomic Nervous System: What Sidnie Learned in School

As many of you know, one of our staff members (Sidnie) started physical therapy school at Creighton this month. SO........we asked her to teach us a little of what she learns through a brief post periodically. Enjoy the first edition of WHAT SIDNIE LEARNED IN SCHOOL! This week’s PT school lesson with Sidnie:

The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that controls things we don’t have to think about to do, i.e., breathing, keeping our heart beating, and digesting our food. It consists of 3 main divisions, the parasympathetic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, and the enteric nervous system. Today, we’re going to focus on the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This division is important for your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis, which is basically a fancy term for saying your body’s steady state at which optimal functioning is performed. Our body’s internal temperature is an example of homeostasis functioning- it usually stays right around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit when we are healthy. This is because of how the parasympathetic nervous system reacts when there are indications that our body is not at homeostasis; if our bodies get too warm, it stimulates physiological responses to cool it off, like sweating, and get back to 98.6. Or, if our bodies get too cold, it stimulates other responses to warm it up, like causing our muscles to create micro-contractions to generate heat, aka shivering! Neat, huh?!

But why should we care about the parasympathetic nervous system? Well, it turns out that when the PNS is activated, it has some awesome additional benefits for our bodies; it lowers blood pressure, promotes digestion, and ultimately puts our bodies into a state of relaxation that breeds recovery beyond just getting back to homeostasis. Therefore, the more time we spend with an activated PNS, the healthier we become. But again, why should we care if we don’t have to do anything for it to work? It functions on its own!

There are actually some ways to trigger the activation of the PNS and get the above-mentioned benefits: 1. Meditation – take our GUIDED MEDITATION class on Tuesdays at 12:05 2. Massage – Book a massage with Kashmir 3. Breath work – Attend Balance, Tai Chi, and PiYoga FLOW 4. Yoga, Tai Chi and PiYoga FLOW – See #3 5. Good nutrition – Only indulge on occasion 6. Exercise – come in to workout at least 4 days per week 7. Getting enough sleep – 7 to 8 hours is usually about right

Thank you for sharing your new found knowledge with us, Sidnie!

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