HRV Explained

Everyone wants to be healthy but how do you know what your overall health status is without going and getting expensive and invasive testing? Easy by using Heart Rate Variability!

Hi everyone Floyd Meyer here and today we are going to be talking about some really cool technology. It’s called Heart Rate Variability and it allows you to see “under the hood” to determine your overall health status specifically how well your heart and your nervous system are working.  

Heart Rate Variability or HRV for short is a measure of the change in the length of time between your heartbeats. So most people think that the length of time between heartbeats is the same but in actuality, there should be a difference from beat to beat in a healthy individual.

Let’s go through an example to make this idea clear say, for instance, we have an extremely sick individual. They have heart disease, are obese, and are extremely stressed. If you put a monitor on them and measured that time in between heartbeats it would come out to be extremely similar from beat to beat. Meaning that the heart rate variability would be extremely low. This is due to many reasons that we will be going over later.

Now say that we have a healthy athlete that is getting good sleep, not overtraining, and is at a healthy weight. If you put the monitor on this individual you would see great differences in their beat to beat pause lengths. Meaning that this individual would have a very high HRV.

Notice that in the first example that the person was extremely Stressed. This is where the magic of HRV really comes into play. When measuring HRV what you are really looking at is your Autonomic Nervous System and how well it is functioning. Your Autonomic Nervous System is what is responsible for all of the subconscious actions of your body. It can be broken down into 2 different parts; your sympathetic nervous system (think fight or flight) and your parasympathetic nervous system (think rest and digest). These 2 systems are always going back and forth to control your overall nervous system tone. If your fight or flight system is the stronger of the 2 then you will be more apt for things like anxiety if your parasympathetic nervous system is more active you will be more relaxed and calm.

These 2 systems are what control your heart rate and thereby control the HRV. Knowing this when you are measuring your HRV you can determine the overall strength of your nervous system and whether it is in an overall balance or if one side is overpowering the other.

If your sympathetic nervous system, that fight or flight system, is stronger than that is a sign that you are stressed out! And this can be physical stress such as illness, lack of sleep, overtraining, etc. Or it can be mental stress from your job, family, personal life, etc. Both of these types of stress have been shown to decrease Heart Rate Variability in multiple studies.

Measuring HRV is super easy. All you need is an accurate heart rate monitor and a program to decipher all the data. I have been using the Elite HRV app for years now and have found it to be extremely helpful. They have excellent graphs so you can understand the data and can give you what they call a “Readiness Score” meaning is your nervous system working appropriately.

So I know that was a lot of information but next week we are going to be going over how exactly to measure your HRV and then what you can do to improve your HRV score! Make sure to follow and subscribe for more great information so that you can Live Longer, Live Better, and Do More.

Again this is Floyd Meyer signing off!


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