Do you have a smart watch? Or know someone with a smart watch or other “wearable” technology that monitors “heart rate variability” or HRV? Your child athlete may monitor their heart rate variability in sports to judge their training and recovery. Measuring HRV is a fun and highly valuable tool that provides insight into your health, habits, and nutritional needs.
Heart Rate Variability
Heart rate refers to the number of heart beats per minute. Heart rate variability (HRV) is different. It measures the amount of time between each heartbeat. HRV reflects the balance of your autonomic nervous system. This is the balance between the fight/flight sympathetic nervous system and the rest/relax/digest parasympathetic nervous system and how it impacts the heart. HRV is directly affected by your diet, lifestyle, stress, and nutritional status.
High vs Low HRV
A high HRV number generally indicates that your heart and autonomic nervous system are functioning well and adapting to stress. A high HRV is found in younger and/or generally healthier individuals.
A low HRV reflects that your heart and autonomic nervous system regulation is stressed. Low HRV is associated with increased illness and risk of overall mortality. Low HRV is also linked with poor impulse control and diminished stress tolerance that affects your physiology, cognitive, and emotional responses. Reduced ability to make good food choices, impulse eating, binging, or stress eating has been linked with reduced heart rate variability.
Things that Impact Heart Rate Variability
Heart Rate Variability is influenced by several factors. These include body temperature, sleep cycle, noise, environmental temperature, and time of day, body position, breathing mechanics, movement, and more.
Some other common things that negatively impact or lower HRV include: