Heart Rate Variability

Heart Rate Variability, A Useful Tool To Improve Your Wellbeing

As trainers, it is a norm to critique the client’s performance so as to know the client’s progress. Sometimes the trainer applies the right principles of training but at end result to negative unexpected results. In search for answers the trainer should use the client’s HRV (Heart Rate Variability) to assess the client’s situation.

What is Heart Rate Variability?

HRV (1) is a measure of variation in time between each beat of the heart while heart rate is the number of heart beats per minute. A normal heart doesn’t beat at a regular interval like a metronome, there is a natural variability.

HRV is regulated by Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and is composed of Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System. A positive HRV shows that the Parasympathetic nervous system is in control and that the body is under a relatively light load of stress hence on that day the client can go on relatively intense workout.

What Your Heart Rate Variability Shows

When the heart beats come more regularly and with less variability means that you are under stress hence opting for less intense workouts, stretches and also some breathing exercise (2). Less recovery from fatigue may result with less time between-beat variability. HRV is not relevant during exercise. HRV shows present and future heart conditions such as heart attack and mental health issues like anxiety.

Sympathetic Nervous System involves flight and fight responses from responding in stressful and dangerous situations. In these situations, the heart rate responds by increasing blood delivery to areas the body needs it most to facilitate flight. While in Parasympathetic Nervous system predominates during quiet and resting conditions(3).

The Autonomic Nervous system moderates heart rate. Activation of the sympathetic nervous system increases heart rate and decreases HRV, whereas Parasympathetic nervous activity decreases HR and increases HRV hence considered to be a better indicator to a better fitness and resilience to stress. Causes of low HRV may be a result of poor sleep quality, injury, overtraining, taking alcohol, fatigue, anxiety, depression etc.

In Conclusion

To improve ones HRV, one can start by first having a good sleep quality, hydrating constantly, proper exercise program, having a good nutrition, avoiding alcohol and lastly you may use breathing exercises. From the advancing technology, there are new devices and wearables to measure HRV. We should monitor our HRV for our betterment in our fitness journey.

For more beneficial information read more educational material in our blog (4)

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