Why should you know your Heart Rate Variability?
What is HRV?
HRV- Heart rate variability is an essential measure of heart health, and here is everything you need to know.
Heart rate variability is the time between each heartbeat; this is different from the heart rate, determined by the number of times the heart beats per minute. Unlike the heart rate, which you check by measuring the pulse, heart rate variability is assessed at the doctor’s office with an electrocardiogram ( ECG or EKG) that tracks the heart’s electrical activity. You can also track your HVR using devices like apple watch, Garmin, and other smartwatches.
Variability refers to the ability to change during the day. The heart rate changes through the day and night; it varies depending on movement and emotions. The disparity between these represents heart rate variability.
Understanding the origins of HRV
Let’s think back to our caveman ancestors. They may have had resting heart rates of 60 beats per minute (bpm) when relaxing in their caves, but as soon as they were outside and a tiger came by, they needed to get their heart rates up fast to flee. Our bodies are made to modulate our heart rate and blood pressure from second to second. The modulation is governed by the autonomic nervous system, including your sympathetic nervous system (SNS, or the fight-or-flight response) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS, or your chill-out system).
Is high heart rate variability functional?
With high HRV, your body adjusts your heart rate based on your activity at any certain time of day.
HRV is an excellent indicator of cardiovascular quality and performance. A high HRV means your heart works like a luxury car that can reach 0-60 in 2.7 seconds. Studies show that individuals with higher HRV are significantly healthier and live longer with lower disease risk. Lower HRV causes heart problems, strokes, and diabetes.
Heart rate variability can also show how well the body withstands stress.
How to improve your body’s HRV’s flexibility?
Your HRV will fall as you age. But being at risk for heart disease can also affect it. If you have a healthy heart, you don’t have to worry about HRV regularly. But disturbances to the autonomic nervous system, such as an acute infection or cancer, may affect HRV. Chronic stress, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can also impair this system’s function, leading to heart rate and blood pressure issues.
How athletes train heart rate variability?
Athletes say your heart rate variation will give you an advantage and a performance boost. HRV should lower following an intense exercise. Once the HRV returns to normal, you’ve completely recovered from the workout, allowing you to pre-exercise comfortably and prevent overtraining. In general, a high HRV is associated with a healthy and functional heart that enhances athletic performance.
How to improve your heart rate variability?
First, if your HRV has an underlying condition, treatment can normalize it. Speak to your doctor about any potential signs. E.g., lightheadedness- you might have a nervous system disorder involving both your blood pressure and pulse.
When you have a healthy heart, you can be confident you have a fine-tuned HRV. It’s also necessary to properly handle tension. Feeling keyed up is inevitable, but the goal is to develop endurance and a successful coping mechanism to tackle stress properly.
Exercise is the easiest way to increase heart rate variability. Half an hour’s workouts, five days a week, will help you reach your HRV goal.