POTS and Exercise: Navigating Wellness

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Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) emerges as a condition where exercise plays a pivotal role in management.

Understanding the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS):

The ANS is responsible for involuntary bodily functions and is comprised of the central nervous system (CNS), sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

The sympathetic nervous system initiates the “fight” or flight” response when faced with a threat or stressor. This triggers a physiological response preparing the body to confront or survive the situation. For instance, it leads to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system can be likened to a “rest” and “digest” response. Its function is to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, promoting a state of relaxation and facilitating digestive processes.
So why is understanding the nervous systems important for POTS?

POTS: A Disruption in Balance:

Primarily affecting women of childbearing age, POTS results from autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Symptoms include palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, and exercise intolerance, often triggered by factors like infection, life stressors, trauma, or chronic inflammatory conditions.

Exercise is a key component in managing POTS, and a tailored exercise regimen proves essential. Despite exercise intolerance, gradual and customized programs, overseen by healthcare professionals, can enhance cardiovascular fitness without exacerbating symptoms. Activities such as walking or swimming adapted to individual capacities, are beneficial.

Holistic Approaches to Daily Life:

Beyond exercise, considerations like hydration, salt intake, and dietary adjustments contribute to symptom management. Medications, physical therapy, and emotional support are integral components of a comprehensive POTS care plan.
Exercise, when approached with care, is a key ally in managing POTS. Tailored exercise programs, alongside holistic care strategies, contribute to a better quality of life for individuals navigating the complexities of POTS.

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