What is Heart Rate Variability? or HRV. Personally, I’d never heard of this before. In particular, it is new to me as an actual Health Marker! HRV is the measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat and is essentially an interesting marker for resilience and behavioral flexibility.
We know that the following are kinds of markers: weight, obesity, blood pressure, Number of steps taken each day, LDL, HDL, heart rate, and blood sugar, cortisol. Also for those that are older, age just by itself is a marker and used to older persons’ disadvantages quite often!
HRV is autonomic! It is the measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat. This variation is controlled by a primitive part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
ANS works regardless of our wishes. It regulates our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion and is subdivided into two large components. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. This is also known as the fight-or-flight mechanism and the relaxation response.
The brain constantly processes information in the hypothalamus region. This is primitive in terms of evolution!
The hypothalamus, through the ANS, sends signals to the rest of the body. These signals tell either to stimulate or to relax different functions.
It will, for example, respond to negatives such as a poor night of sleep, or that sour interchange with your boss.
But also to positives: exciting news that you just got engaged, or in response to an enjoyable coffee meeting.
Or that delicious and believe it or not, healthy meal you just had for lunch. The spices or the vegetables perhaps! Our body continually handles these kinds of stimuli as a matter of course.
However, if we have persistent instigators such as stress, poor sleep, unhealthy diet, dysfunctional marriage or other relationships, prolonged isolation or unwanted solitude, or even a lack of exercise, this balance has a high chance of disruption.
The fight-or-flight response may shift into effective overdrive.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a noninvasive way to identify any ANS imbalances.
If a person’s system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between subsequent heartbeats is low.
Over the past few decades, research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening depression or anxiety. A low HRV is even associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
For example, people who have high HRV may have greater cardiovascular fitness. This seems to go hand in hand with more resilience to stress.
HRV can provide personal feedback about your lifestyle and help motivate those who are considering taking steps toward a healthier life.
HRV changes as you incorporate more mindfulness, meditation, sleep, and especially physical activity.
How to check heart rate variability?
By analysis strip of an electrocardiogram. The test frequently is done in the medical office for heart analysis. When wires attached to the chest and rest of the body.
Tracking HRV is a great tool for motivation for behavioral change. HRV measurements can help create more awareness of how behavior affects the nervous system and bodily functions.
Stress is a Health Killer!
While it can’t help you avoid stress which is a health killer, it can help understanding how to respond to stress in a healthier way. It is an insight into that really primitive part of our brains! New Magic Health Marker, Heart Rate Variability!