This week, we’re here to tell you all about HRV (heart rate variability) and why it matters to your health.
What is HRV?
HRV is a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat – simples!
Our HRV is controlled by the ANS (autonomic nervous system) and regulates our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and breathing. It is a system that system works completely out of our control.
The ANS is composed of the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems (also known as the fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest responses).
A low HRV indicates that our nervous system is not ready to take on stress, strain, or even relax enough to enjoy a delicious meal! A low HRV means that our body is already tired, and does not have the resources available to dedicate towards something else.
The sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight)
The sympathetic system responds to more external effects like stress and exercise and is responsible for increasing your heart rate.
The parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)
The parasympathetic nervous system regulates our vital internal functions, such as digestion, hair growth, and sleep. It is responsible for decreasing our heart rates.
These two systems work together to send signals to your heart, causing fluctuations in your heart rate.
What can we do to improve our HRV?
We’ve already said that we have no control over our HRV. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t influence it.
Here are a few things that you can do to increase your HRV (remember, it’s the time between heartbeats, so we want it to be longer!).
When exercising, avoid pushing too hard for too many days. Rest is as important as exercise – by allowing our bodies time to recover, we will enhance our performance and limit our risk of injury.
Water is crucial for helping our blood to circulate and deliver both oxygen and nutrients around our bodies. Try to aim for half an ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.
(60kg = 1.8litres, 70kg = 2.2litre, 80kg = 2.6litres, 90kg = 2.8litres)
Now, we’re not saying don’t drink at all – we’re reasonable people that enjoy a bottle (or two) of wine…
Even one night of drinking can negatively affect your HRV for up to 5 days! If you have a sporting event or an important meeting coming up, save the drinks for celebrating with.
A steady, healthy diet
Both your nutrition and the time that you eat will affect your HRV. Stick to a healthy diet to keep your HRV healthy, and also try to eat at the same time every day. Your body starts to expect meals and can prepare itself better for digestion.
Quality of sleep
The quality, consistency, and quantity of sleep that you get every night all have a significant effect on your HRV. Try to get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night, as well as going to bed and waking up at a consistent time every day.
Which of the above actions will you start committing to from today?? Let us know in the comments!
Head over to our private Facebook group ‘Revitalise – a healthy lifestyle community group‘ to follow along with the video we shared for a 5-minute breathing technique. A technique designed to positively impact your HRV, and that you can do right now!