How to Increase Resilience with Heart Rate Variability HRV

Hello everyone Floyd Meyer here I am a Physician Assistant with a Master’s in public health, a degree in molecular biology, and I am currently working in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Today we are continuing our series on Resilience which is the ability to remain well, recover, or even thrive in the face of adversity.

This week we will be discussing how to measure resilience using heart rate variability, and how this simple tool can monitor the health of your heart and nervous system!

Heart rate variability or HRV represents the ability of the heart and nervous system to respond to different types of stressors. Resilient individuals are able to quickly react to and recover from different stressors whether they be physical or mental. On the other hand, those with lower levels of resilience will have a more difficult time overcoming these same obstacles.

But what if we could see in real time how resilient our nervous system is before we engage in something stressful. This is where HRV comes in.

Heart Rate Variability is a measure of the change in the length of time between your heartbeats.

Most people would assume that the length of time between heartbeats is the same, but in actuality, there should be a slight difference from beat to beat in a healthy individual.

This slight variability in beat to beat intervals can be quantified and thus is termed heart rate variability.

An optimal level of HRV reflects healthy function, adaptability, and resilience.

Measuring HRV is easy. All you need is an accurate heart rate monitor and a program to decipher 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 they give you a “Readiness Score” which can be thought of as a resilience score.

This data can give you the knowledge to know when your body is able to push harder, and when you should back things off and focus on recovery.

But how do you actually use HRV?

By definition HRV is variable so in order to get accurate HRV measurements we need to control as many variables as possible. I recommend for anyone getting started with measuring your own HRV you should measure at the same time of the day, in the same position, for the same length of time. For example, I measure my own HRV in the morning right after getting up, laying on my back, for 5 minutes.

This may seem unnecessary, but small changes in position and time of day can have huge effects on HRV readings. 

Now when getting started you need to determine your normal baseline HRV. In order to do this you need to get at least 3 consecutive measurements. This will give you a reference point that you can then compare to moving forward. If your HRV starts to decrease then it’s time to focus on recovery. Think about doing things like going on a long walk, or meditation vs continuing to push your body with a hard workout or a really long night working on projects. 

Heart Rate Variability is an amazing tool giving you objective data to determine your resilience in real time. If implemented correctly it can give you the ability to know what days are better to push it and when you should focus on recovery.

For those interested in starting HRV make sure to check out my previous videos. I have made multiple videos and posts about HRV including how to get started today, the details on measurements and data, and how to improve your HRV score so make sure to check those out on the Catalyst Impacts page.

I hope that this has been helpful. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below. If this resonated with you please share with your friends and family and subscribe and follow for more of this content. The time for action is now. Again this is Floyd Meyer. Have a great day!


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