Heart Rate Variability
Heart Rate Variability is the optimal marker of health and well being. For, heart rate variability is an extremely valuable thing to track. A measure of your HRV is a measure of your autonomic nervous system, HRV is one of the best objective metrics of physical fitness, as it calculates your health markers via, recording each and every heart beat. Heart rate variability is literally the variance in time between the beats of your heart. So, if your heart rate is 60 beats per minute, it’s not actually beating once every second. Within that minute there may be 0.9 seconds between two beats, for example, and 1.15 seconds between two others. The greater this variability is, the more “ready” your body is to perform at its peak. At Infinit Fit we use HRV as a fundimental in our assessments we believe that ..You cannot manage what you do not measure, via ensuring your health markers are functioning optimally. HRV gives you the data to ensure you are functioning at your best.
What can you do to ensure you are at your fittest and your HRV is healthy?
Exercise & Train Appropriately.
Studies that regular exercise is one of the best methods for improving your heart rate variability. However, for serious athletes it is also important to avoid overtraining. Strenuous activity reduces HRV in the short term, so it is essential not to consistently take on too much strain without giving your body adequate time to recover.
Good Nutrition at the Right Times.
It’s no surprise that a smart and healthy diet will benefit your HRV, but something many of us may not realize is that the timing of your food intake can affect it as well. Your body functions better when it knows what’s coming and regular eating patterns help maintain your circadian rhythm. Additionally, not eating close to bedtime (within 3-4 hours) will improve the quality of your sleep by allowing your body to focus on other restorative processes instead of digestion.
Your level of hydration determines the volume of your blood, and the more liquid you have in your system the easier it is for blood to circulate and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your body. Drinking close to an ounce of water per each pound that you weigh is a good daily goal.
Don’t Drink Alcohol.
Studies have shown that consuming alcohol on average HRV levels drop by 22 milliseconds the next day and additionally research has discovered that lingering effects of alcohol can continue in your system to suppress your heart rate variability for 4-5 days.
Sleep Well & Consistently.
Getting all the sleep your body needs is a great start, but equally as important is making an effort to go to sleep and wake up at regular times each day. Sleep consistency will boost your HRV, by helping to sustain your circadian rhythm, and also enables you to spend more time in REM and deep sleep
Natural Light Exposure.
Going outside in the sunlight after waking up in the morning and watching the sky change from light to dark in the evening trigger biological processes involved with regulating sleep/wake times (see sleep consistency above), energy levels and hormone production. This will also improve alertness, mood and vitamin D production.
Exposing your body to cold temperatures for brief periods of time (cold showers, ice baths, etc.) will stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system and controls heart rate variability.
Studies indicate that slow, controlled breathing techniques can positively impact your HRV. They will also help to combat stress, which has been shown to inhibit heart rate variability.
Mindfulness & Meditation.
There have been many studies that have shown that practicing mindfulness and/or meditation has led to improvements in HRV and reduced stress. As with slow breathing techniques, both will help you reduce stress. In fact, even dedicating just one minute per day to mindfulness exercises can have real benefits. These breathing techniques we have used with our clients at Infinit Fit and their HRV levels have improved.
The act of writing down things you’re thankful for each day can elicit an up tick in heart rate variability. It is also linked to lower blood pressure and decreases in stress hormones.
Ultimatley we want to have tools that are acurate and give us data that we can use to effectivley implement in our training, and we have found HRV an essential tool for us at Infinit Fit as it has helped us in many scenarios imrove our clients health, sleep and stress levels! As Personal Training proffesionals the IF team wants to provdie a holistic result driven approach that looks at all variables. At infinit Fit we never assume we measure!