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Balancing the Autonomic Nervous System by Breathing

by Brian T. Gearity, PhD, ATC, CSCS,*D, FNSCA and Gabrielle Smith, MA
NSCA Coach April 2015
Vol 3, Issue 2


Decompressing after a workout, practice, or competition is a beneficial habit that can be achieved through breathing. This article provides an overview of the autonomic nervous system and guidelines for how to use breathing to calm, or balance, the brain and body.

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This article originally appeared in NSCA Coach, a quarterly publication for NSCA Members that provides valuable takeaways for every level of strength and conditioning coach. You can find scientifically based articles specific to a wide variety of your athletes’ needs with Nutrition, Programming, and Youth columns. Read more articles from NSCA Coach Â»



1. The autonomic nervous system and good health. Life Vessel Arizona: Advanced Wellness Center. Retrieved May 30, 2015 from
2. Marieb, EN, and Hoehn, K. Human Anatomy and Physiology (10th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc; 2016. 
3. Distress and eustress. Do you know the difference? Dr. Jack Singer. August 10, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2015 from http:// 
4. Vanitallie, TB. Stress: A risk factor for serious illness. Metabolism 51(suppl 6): 40-45, 2002. 
5. Vaschillo, E, Vaschillo, B, and Lehrer, P. Characteristics of resonance in heart rate variability stimulated by biofeedback. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback 31(2): 129-142, 2006

About the author

Gabrielle Smith

University of Kentucky

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