HRV: What is it, and why is it important for your health?

Updated on August 22, 2019

Your overall well-being depends on the condition of your heart to a great deal. That’s why a fitness conscious person always keeps an eye on his blood pressure, cholesterol, and other such factors that can impact the heart. But did you ever hear about heart rate variability (HRV)? It is another critical measure that you need to track to make sure your heart is happy.

What does HRV indicate?

HRV measures the difference in time in your heartbeat. It is different from heart rate, which determines the count of your heart beat per minute. Generally, doctors check pulse to understand about your heart rate. However, to monitor heart rate variability, you need to take electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) test that happens in the clinic. Nowadays, a few mobile apps, such as Elite HRV, have come up in the market that can measure your heart rate variable on the go. 

Variability indicates the speed changing ability of your heartbeat; The heart rate increases or decreases throughout the day based on your activity or emotional level. In simple terms, faster heart rate and lowest heart rate are nothing but a representation of the heart rate variability.

Why does heart rate variability change?

Age and risk of heart disease are the two reasons that can most impact your HRV. If you don’t have any heart-related problems, you don’t need to worry about HRV every day. A high HRV is a good sign. But when your autonomic nervous system suffers due to infection or some other significant ailments, your HRV can decline. People who have higher stress levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol can experience a disruption in their HRV. Their heart rate does not change.

That means if your HRV is on the higher side, there is nothing to worry. It shows your heart rate can shift based on the kind of activity you perform. For example, the heart rate that you will have while watching television should be different from when you fight with someone.

In essence, it reflects the responsiveness of your cardiovascular system. According to medical studies, those who are on the higher side of the HRV are likely to lead a long and healthy life with the little risk of ailment. Lower variability can result in diabetes, heart strokes, and cardio attacks, etc.

Also, HRV reflects your body’s ability to take any level of stress. If your HRV is high, you can perhaps deal better with it. However, when it declines, your body may take a little longer to rebound. 

How to take care of HRV?

Get medical help if you feel your heart rate variability has become weak. There can be an underlying condition behind its disruption. Additionally, you can maintain its health by exercising.  Doctors suggest a total of 150 minutes of workout per week can improve your heart rate variability significantly. However, no matter whatever regime you follow, make sure to do it regularly. Participating in marathons or triathlons can also be beneficial. 

So, if you want to keep your heart in good shape, then do watch your HRV.

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