Tracking our heart rate
"Be careful of reading health books. You may die of a misprint."
How many times do you hear people reply they are "fine" when you ask them how they are doing? It makes me think of an acronym for fine: Fickle Insecure Neurotic and Emotional. There are a bunch of them. The response "fine," can reflect a range of emotions hiding underneath such a blanket description. With modern technology, we now have the ability to measure just how "fine" we really are.
Our heart rate variability (HRV) measures our autonomic nervous system (ANS) to distinguish the fluctuation between our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Our SNS controls our fight or flight response, while our PNS helps us rest and digest. A healthy balance between our SNS and PNS helps us to function and perform better, helping us respond to external stimuli more readily with less anxiety. When one system is more active than the other, we become out of balance and risk physical and mental fatigue, including disease.
Photo by Alexandre Saraiva Carniato on Pexels
We can measure our HRV with wearables that monitor our ANS. Elite HRV is a go-to app for this emerging technology. The higher our HRV, the more prepared we are to handle situations that demand our attention and switch more effortlessly between our SNS and PNS. This helps us take slow breaths instead of freaking out. 😌 HRV is measured by our activity, lifestyle and biology, so our personal HRV's have many competing variables. Some keys to increasing and maintaining a high HRV are regular exercise, a consistent sleep schedule and a healthy diet. Athletes and professionals who perform under pressure benefit greatly from a high HRV, but everyone should aspire to have a balanced ANS and increased HRV.
Instead of wondering whether we may need to invest more time and effort to our self-care routine, our HRV will inform us with data. We can choose to ignore the science, but that does not mean it's wrong. So, the next time we tell someone we are "fine," our HRV can let us know whether we are "Frantic Insane Needy and Empty" or "Fabulous Invigorated Noble and Excited." If our HRV is low, we we can choose to "Fix It Now and Enjoy" 😃 This way, when someone asks us how we are doing, we can be better than "fine."
Harvard Health: Heart rate variability: A new way to track well-being
Experiments in Wellness: 5 Important Benefits Of Heart Rate Variability
Biohackers Lab: What Are The Best Heart Rate Variability Monitors?