Home » Heart Health » How Heart Rate Variability training can improve your Heart Health
The training of a professional athlete is very different from the training an average person engages in. There’s the obvious difference in physical capacity, but the difference we are pointing to is that of technology and medicine. Top sporting franchises and clubs spend massive amounts of money on sports medicine and technology to help their athletes reach or maintain their peak athletic performance. And it works. But the great news is, now it can work for you too.
The entrance of wearable medical technology into the mainstream has meant that we are able to analyse the impact of our physical activity much more accurately than before. Training using heart rate zones, in relation to your breathing rate, as per your body shock – these have all become more and more common practices in recent times. But the newest heart health metric that has gained attention in training circles is Heart Rate Variability. So, let’s look into it.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure of the variation in time between consecutive heartbeats. It refers to the fluctuations in the interval between heartbeats and is used as an indicator of the autonomic nervous system activity, which regulates the body’s functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. These variations are very small, fluctuating by a fraction of a second between beats, and are undetectable except with the use of specialized devices.
As mentioned earlier, Heart Rate Variability is considered to be an indicator of the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates various physiological functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. HRV is used to assess the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response, and it increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest and digest” response and it decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. A healthy individual typically exhibits a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, leading to HRV values within a certain range.
Essentially, HRV is an indicator of the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system and can provide insights into an individual’s stress levels, recovery from physical activity, and overall health status.
A high HRV means that there is a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. When the parasympathetic branch dominates, the body is in a relaxed state and the heart rate slows down, leading to higher HRV values. High HRV is associated with improved recovery from stress and physical activity, better sleep quality, and overall better health status.
On the other hand, low heart rate variability is considered a negative indicator and can indicate various physiological imbalances and health problems. Low HRV values suggest that the sympathetic branch is dominant and the body is in a state of stress or arousal. This can be due to overtraining, stress, sleep deprivation, or other health issues. Low HRV is also associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, poor recovery from physical activity, and decreased overall health status.
Improving Heart Rate Variability (HRV) can be achieved through a combination of physical activity and lifestyle changes. Here are some ways to train to improve HRV:
It’s important to note that while physical activity can help improve HRV, it’s equally important to incorporate lifestyle changes such as getting adequate sleep, managing stress, and eating a healthy diet to maintain and improve HRV.
We know it isn’t easy for everybody to commit to a training regimen even if we’ve always known how beneficial it can be. That being said, the value added by incorporating any kind of training into your routine is so high, that we must give our best shot at doing so.
Here are some tips for those who struggle with setting a workout regimen.
With the level of data that we now have access to, it has become easy to improve and tailor our training to fit our exact needs. Understanding and using metrics like Heart Rate Variability will help you most efficiently achieve the goals you set for yourself. Purchase the Frontier X2 smart heart monitor to get access to your Heart Rate Variability data from while you are training to stay on top of your heart health!
HRV is the variation in time between successive heartbeats, and is a measure of the body’s ability to respond to stress and recover from physical activity.
A good HRV score depends on many factors, including age, gender, and physical fitness. Generally, a higher HRV score is considered better, as it indicates a more resilient and adaptive cardiovascular system.
A variety of physical activities can improve HRV, including aerobic exercise, resistance training, mind-body exercise, and high-intensity interval training. The best type of physical activity for improving HRV is the one that you enjoy and can maintain over the long-term.
Although a high HRV score is generally considered better, it is possible to have too high of an HRV score. This can indicate overtraining or overexertion, and it’s important to monitor HRV levels regularly and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
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