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PUP – Performance Under Pressure – Cold Therapy

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PUP1-Ways to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve and Boost

HRV & Immunity

What is the Vagus Nerve and What Does it Do?

The vagus nerve activates the and basically
functions as the button you can press to reduce stress. It originates on the surface
of the brain but wanders throughout the body transmitting information to tissues
and organs. The nerve plays a critical role in letting your body know that things are
going to be okay. is also controlled by the vagus nerve.
The more “complex” or variable your HRV, the more resilient and adaptable you

Parasympathetic nervous system
Heart rate variability (HRV)
Increasing Vagal Tone

The vagus nerve is analogous to a muscle; you can train it to get stronger.
Increasing vagal tone (vagus nerve activity) and heart rate variability is one of the
most practical ways to improve your overall wellness quickly. We can stimulate the
vagus nerve, and hence inuence parasympathetic tone (the deactivating branch
of the ), with breathing exercises, massage, intermittent
fasting, taking omega-3 supplements, cold/heat thermogenesis, and exercise,
among other things. Behaviors like laughing, sex, chanting, gargling, and singing
also stimulate the vagus nerve thus activating the parasympathetic nervous

Autonomic nervous system

Ways to Improve Vagus Nerve
Function, Increase HRV & Boost Immunity

Assignment Improve Performance Under Pressure PUP


Voluntary regulation of internal bodily states (e.g., actively reducing your heart rate
throughout the day with conscious breathwork) increases emotional control and
psychological well-being. The working principle when thinking about calming the
system is to limit the number of sensory inputs (i.e., sound, light, and potentially
certain scents) and use conscious breath or body scanning (paying attention to
parts of the body and bodily sensations in a gradual sequence from feet to head)
as a mechanism to focus attention away from the mind.

As little as 1 minute of diaphragmatic breathing a few times per day
to have a beneficial effect on the cardiopulmonary system and enhance
parasympathetic activation. One of my favorite ways to stimulate vagal tone
through breathwork is the following:

Exercise 1 -Try this once a day for 5 minutes at a time
breath in to the count of 5
hold to the count of 5
breath out to the count of 5
wait to the count of 5 before breathing back in

This type of rhythmic breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system
and lowers stress levels while also increasing your vagal tone. There are a lot of
to tap to better understand various techniques. But overall, don’t
worry so much about how you are doing it, just do it.
great resources

Assignment Improve Performance Under Pressure PUP

The simple act of being still and consciously minding your breath and/or parts of
your body can help you stay in the present moment, which is where “peace” lives.
These small, help to mitigate “negative stress
accumulation,” reduce anxiety, and as a result, can improve sleep onset latency
and capacity to manage stress/control emotional response, promote autonomic
balance, boost immunity and just generally make you more enjoyable to be
around…… moments of “peace”


Cold thermogenesis (CT) is the practice of exposing yourself to cold temperatures.
Research has shown that it has a positive inuence on health and longevity by
. Cold adaptation offers a huge advantage
in many different aspects of medicine, not only for obesity and diabetes, but for
performance and longevity as well.
changing gene expression and fat cells
Acute cold exposure will stimulate the vagus nerve. Your sympathetic system
(ght or ight) decreases when your body adjusts to cold, while your
parasympathetic system (rest and digest) increases. There’s actually a physiologic
change that occurs that increases testosterone, growth hormone, and metabolic

CT ignites your body’s natural healing powers by providing long-lasting
changes to the immune, lymphatic, circulatory, and digestive systems and
generally enhances overall quality of life–all while leaving you feeling relaxed and

Do not start by jumping into a cold tub right away. You will torture yourself and
leave behind a very unpleasant memory. It is important to “cold adapt” rst. I
began by simply dunking my face into ice cold water. Later I upped my exposure
by taking cold showers for 30 seconds, then slowly increased the time. I also live in
a cold climate, so for a good 6 months of the year I can take advantage of a nearby
lake to help stimulate cold thermogenesis. to
start your path to cold adaptation (timing, duration, temperature, food, and other

Here are some useful CT protocols

Exercise 2 Start by taking cold shower for 30 seconds at time every day as your
body adapts to the ritual extend this longer periods and after heavy exercise go
gradually colder



Gut health . One of the simplest things you
can do to promote it is to . Drinking lots of cool water (8, 9, 10 glasses a
day), will stimulate the vagus nerve in your gut.
is directly correlated to immune health
drink water are the “modulators of the microbiota”–they can improve the feedback
loop of the vagus nerve and the gut/brain axis. Probiotic bacteria strains such as

LRhamnosus have been shown in studies to have
(which are calming to the parasympathetic nervous
system and are mediated by the vagus nerve).
antidepressant-like effects and
inuence GABA receptors showed that it can have up to 10 million
CFU of viable lactic acid bacteria per gram when you eat it, a seemingly delicious
way to get beneficial bacteria! Bidobacterium longum (found in yogurt) is
another important bacteria that reduces anxiety by acting through the vagus
nerve via the gut.

improve gut health.

A study on Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
this great resource on friendly bacteria
is also a known contributor to a healthy gut. It’s been shown to strengthen
the immune system by giving your body the chance to rest and recover (since it’s
not busy digesting food or defending against inammatory agents in food). This
state of rest can be especially helpful for taming autoimmunity (i.e., misdirected
immune responses that occur when the immune system goes awry and attacks
the body itself) and improves neurological responses.


You might notice in your WHOOP data that when you stop eating 3-4 hours prior
to bed and your sleep need is met (essentially creating a 12-hour “fast”), you will
see a higher HRV (assuming your training and recovery are in proportion).
Digestion is a parasympathetic activity, so it competes with recovery resource
allocation. Therefore, periods of not eating can be benecial as all resources can go
toward recovery and rejuvenation.
for folks who are interested in
testing intermittent fasting. My favorite
and other nutritional considerations is from Dr. Jason Fung.
James Clear has an excellent “beginners guide”
resource for all things therapeutic fasting


Getting in at least 20 minutes of natural sunlight within half-an-hour of waking up
in the morning (even if it is cloudy), as well as watching the sky transition from day
to night in the evening, reinforces and has been
. In principle, we want to
incorporate behaviors that help facilitate our body’s natural cycles. There is
signicant science that supports the important connection between an “aligned
circadian clock” and both psychological and physiological well-being (including
immune health) your natural circadian clock shown to promote healthy cortisol and sleep patterns

Morning light exposure and watching the sky change at night are simple habits
that will optimally prompt biological processes associated with regulating
sleep/wake times, appetite, energy levels, hormone production, and body
temperature. Other benets include improved mood and alertness, better
heuristic processing, as well as increased vitamin D production (key for healthy
immunity) and physical strength.

When talking about immune health and functional adaptive response to exercise,
the goal should be to optimize the interplay between the cardiovascular system
and nervous system. “Under-training” (too little load relative to capacity) and
“overtraining” (too much load relative to capacity) can not only make us more
injury prone, but also compromise our defense system. and
data can be extremely powerful in helping guide your workouts and give
you insight into how you are coping and adapting to not just training demands,
but also “life load” demands (i.e., everything else that is not exercise).

WHOOP strain recovery

suggests that being physically active makes
you less vulnerable to getting sick. According to
, “Our data show that physically active people have a 40-50% reduction in the number of days they’re ill
with acute respiratory infections.” In short, exercise is good for us, mentally,
physically, and emotionally!

Journal of Sport and Health Science

David Nieman, director of the Appalachian State University Human Performance Lab

There is a sweet spot however, a balance that needs to be considered between
both training volume and intensity and life load volume and intensity (stress,
regular daily activities, etc.) with how much time you can devote to.

WHOOP quantifies this and gives you valuable insight into how your body is adapting to exercise stimulus and life load.

Recovery and sleep

Exercise 1 -Try this once a day for 5 minutes at a time

breath in to the count of 5
hold to the count of 5
breath out to the count of 5
wait to the count of 5 before breathing back in

Exercise 2 – Once a Day

Start by taking cold showers for 30 seconds at time every day for a week, as your
body adapts to the ritual, extend this to longer periods and after heavy exercise go
gradually colder, you can add ice as and when you are ready? 😉

Exercise 3 – Every Day for a week

Eat lighter meals in the evening & try to avoid snacking before bed, by “fasting” in
this way you will enhance quality of sleep and be ready to start the follow day with
more energy & get up and go!

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