While no one will argue the importance of building strong muscle tone, what might be more important to your health is the tone of a surprisingly complex nerve bundle that stretches its tendrils from your brain stem to your visceral organs: the vagus nerve. It also holds a secret to your health far more complex than your muscles; improving vagal tone can boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, help you recover more quickly from exercise and injury and even affect your mood.
Here are 6 strategies for “pumping up” your vagus nerve:
When you breathe deep into your belly, the vagus nerve releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which has a calming and relaxing effect on the body, and is shown to reduce inflammation by blocking inflammatory molecules such as cytokines and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) in the body. Ideally, holding your breath for seven counts and releasing it for eight, is even more likely to help stimulate the release of this natural calming agent, and to keep your vagus nerve stimulated.