`Heart rate variability plays a crucial role in detecting and inspecting an individual’s overall stress levels and health. By determining this metric – one that is so closely related to heart health and an individual’s overall health – one can get a closer, more in-depth, and more accurate look at what’s going on within their body.
Today, people living anywhere around the globe would have to agree that technology has paved and smoothened the way for improving life daily. Out of several different industries, medicine and medical sciences rely heavily on pioneering technological advancements that help improve their overall approach, care, and services.
One such innovation that has significantly helped all types of doctors and practitioners of health worldwide is the instruments to measure Heart Rate Variability. As it turns out, Heart Rate Variability happens to be one of the most forward and effective metrics of measuring and diagnosing different types of health-related conditions within people. Effectively, it can give the professionals a glimpse into the overall (health) condition of any individual by gauging how their heart is functioning.
In this blog, we will see what Heart Rate Variability exactly is, what its (internal) mechanism is made up of, how it is generated, how you can quickly check it, and why it can be useful in improving your overall health and wellness.
What Is Heart Rate Variability?
Heart Rate Variability can be defined as the variable time intervals between your heartbeats. It is variable because the heart rate and some of the other core functions in our bodies, like breathing, digestion, regulation of blood pressure, etc. – are controlled by our Autonomic Nervous System. As the name suggests, these functions are autonomic, involuntary, and work independently of what we desire or do.
Although your heart rate variability metric shows information relating to the heart and its functionality, it is brought forth or carried about by your (autonomic) nervous system. This means that you essentially measure the overall biopotential that your electrical and muscular systems can generate and provide so your body (and mind) can continue functioning appropriately.
Learning about your HRV can give you a glimpse into how your overall internal can cope under different conditions (more on this below) and deliver its functions.
The Heart Rate Variability Mechanism Within your Body
The ANS or the autonomic nervous system is a pair of two types of nervous systems working in conjunction. They are the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. These two systems have in common that they are both a part of the involuntary aspect/system within your body, i.e., always functional irrespective of whether you know it or can or cannot control it.
The sympathetic nervous system is an activating system that responds when your body (and mind) need a boost/rush of energy, i.e., when a ‘fight or flight’ response needs to be dealt with. This part of your nervous system increases your heart rate, enabling you to perform in situations that warrant it. Thus, when you’re dealing with a stressful situation, exercising, or exuberating more energy and exertion, your sympathetic nervous system kicks-in and elevates your heart rate.
The parasympathetic nervous system is a deactivating system that sends out signals within your body during its recuperating or resting stage. Functions like digestion, growth of hair and nails, etc., are a part of the parasympathetic system. When these functions are in swing, your heart rate is lowered to accommodate the processes better.
Your sympathetic and parasympathetic systems’ combination of functions/processes go on to determine your overall heart rate variability that your heart can offer.
The Importance of Heart Rate Variability in Your Health & Wellness
Knowing, learning, and understanding your heart rate variability can help you find discrepancies in your overall health and wellness. By analysing your HRV metrics, you can gauge how your body’s internal & external components perform.
A low(er) rate in your HRV – shorter intervals between your heartbeats – means that you are maybe drifting towards the unhealthy side. Your body and mind are a lot likelier to get into a ‘fight-or-flight’ response mode in this zone. This entails that you may be experiencing more anxiety and stress and that your body is churning more unnecessary energy than it needs to. A low HRV rate may indicate that you may be experiencing anxiety, depression, stress, dehydration, cardiovascular disease(s), or other damaged behavior/functionality within some of your core organs or systems.
A high(er) rate in your HRV – longer intervals between heartbeats – means that your internal environment is healthier and that you can switch between your performance and rest stages more smoothly and efficiently. This is because a higher variability allows your body and mind to efficiently find enough peace to deliver various functions/performances. A high HRV rate provides your whole mechanism with the energy, space, resilience, and time to perform better.
Thus, if you’re more aware of how your body is functioning and can respond to various developments in your daily life, you can work towards incorporating the changes that will guide you towards improving your overall health and wellness.
Additionally, for those of you who love hard data and statistics about their functionality and health, the HRV metric can accurately provide you with just how much you need to do and put in to achieve the desired level of improvement in your health.
The Factors That Affect Your Heart Rate Variability
The following factors may affect your heart rate variability –
- Age – An individual’s age plays a crucial role in what an individual’s HRV would be. Younger people generally show a higher HRV than older people–whose overall mechanism goes through wear-&-tear over the years.
- Genetic Makeup – The genetic makeup of a person affects the general mechanism that determines the HRV of an individual.
- Chronic Ailments – Dealing with chronic ailments can contribute towards low HRV because of the various adverse effects they carry with them.
- Anxiety & Stress – Anxiety & stress can have a slew of harmful effects on your health, a lower HRV being one of the prominent ones.
- Diet & Nutrition Levels – Your HRV may fluctuate positively or negatively depending on the kind of diet and the type of nutrients you’ve been ingesting.
- Exercise/Fitness Levels – Regular and appropriate exercise forms may help you improve your HRV. Whereas not paying attention to your fitness at all can have adverse effects on your HRV.
- Consumption of Harmful Substances – Alcohol, coffee, and/or drugs can be seriously detrimental to one’s HRV and overall health.
How Can You Easily Check Your Heart Rate Variability?
Gone are the days when you have to book yourself an appointment, get yourself decked-up in clips & wires to an ECG (electrocardiography) machine, and shell out the big bucks to get your HRV data and readings.
Today, there are several well-equipped and easy-to-use-&-understand devices/monitors that are available in the market. Some of the big tech companies have also been able to wholly develop digital (mobile) applications that you can use to record, read, and study your heart rate variability metric. However, the best way to efficiently incorporate modern technology when it comes to determining your HRV is to combine a device/monitor (usually a chest-strapped heart monitor) with an integrated application.
Note – To learn your heart condition, nervous system, and overall health better, calculations are recorded and observed for around 5-10 minutes. This ensures the depicted course/range shows real and viable information to draw accurate health analysis.
Working towards paying closer attention to and improving your overall Heart Rate Variability can help you improve your physical, mental, and physiological wellbeing for years to come.
Through understanding your HRV, you can easily figure out, map out, and work towards mobilizing the best parts of your functionality towards achieving the best version of yourself.
Through our latest fitness application tracker, you can thoroughly learn and understand more about your HRV along with several other fundamental aspects and metrics about your body’s current ability, capacity, and functionality.