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How To Improve Heart Rate Variability

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Are You Actually Absorbing Micronutrients

How To Increase Heart Rate Variability/HRV (Extend Lifespan)

Micronutrients do not exist in isolation in the natural world. While some micronutrients can be absorbed well in isolation, most benefit from being consumed in conjunction with other nutrients and cofactors required for absorption.

The supplements you choose should contain the necessary co-factors for absorption and/or instructions on whether to ingest them with foods for better absorption.

You may have heard the term bioavailability or bioavailable nutrients. In short, nutrient bioavailability refers to your bodys ability to actually digest and utilize the nutrient rather than just pass it through or reject it.

Optimizing bioavailability for specific foods is beyond the scope of this post, but here are a few ways you can increase overall bioavailability of nutrients :

  • Ensure adequate levels of stomach acid
  • Chew your food
  • Eat a wide variety of foods
  • If supplementing, select supplements that include food-based cofactors for absorption
  • Ensure Its Working

    However you choose to address your micronutrient concerns, we recommend tracking your Heart Rate Variability over time to gauge your progress. If your HRV is below your demographic average , you should see a gradual rise in HRV over time assuming other lifestyle factors stay the same.

    Either way, your average HRV values over the course of 30-60 days should increase, or at a minimum, remain the same in conjunction with improvements in other markers.

    Take a deeper look

    What Are The Best Breathing Exercises To Use For Improving Heart Rate Variability

    There is a clear evidence that HRV is influenced by breathing exercises, however, debate remains regarding the best breathing exercise for improving it. A recent randomized control trial conducted in 2021 evaluated the best breathing technique to improve HRV. Participants that attempted breathing at 6 breaths/min along with those in the soothing rhythm breathing achieved a significant increase in HRV compared to the group that watched relaxing nature videos. That being said, there is a need for a systematic review comparing different breathing techniques to confidently ascertain the best breathing exercise for you.

    Whats A Good Heart Rate Variability Number

    Unfortunately, heart rate variability is difficult to interpret. Variability also decreases as you age, and variability thats normal in one person may not be normal for someone else. Your healthcare provider or a specialist is the best person to go to if you want to understand your heart rate variability and what you should do about it.

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    How To Maintain A Normal Range Of Heart Rate Variability

    Although genetic factors have a high say in this matter one can maintain a normal range of heart rate variability by maintaining proper health, sticking to a fitness regime, managing stress, and following recovery methods like meditation. As a thumb rule maintaining a stress-free life is the base rule for a normal range of HRV.

    Although exact heart rate variability range is a tricky one to answer knowing it is good as you can be aware of your health condition by tracking HRV.

    Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.

    Specific Example: Amino Acid Deficiency

    The Ultimate Guide to Heart Rate Variability and Strength ...

    Amino acids are essential building blocks that form proteins and also play an immensely important role in almost every physiological process. To name a few, amino acids are essential for:

    • Hormones
    • L-tryptophan
    • L-valine

    Here is an interview covering the importance of maintaining adequate levels of various amino acids:

    Also, for the podcast episode notes and supporting documents, go here:

    Maintaining adequate micronutrient reserves can stave off the effects of aging long past what is considered normal. Fortunately, most damage caused by micronutrient deficiency can be repaired and prevented. Now lets discuss what to do to optimize your micronutrient stores and thus potentially boost health, performance, and Heart Rate Variability.

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    Should You Monitor Hrv

    Data-driven people may find that tracking HRV can motivate them to work on improving it. For example, athletes use it to monitor their recovery and adjust their upcoming workouts to ensure theyre not overtraining, Kang says. Anyone experiencing chronic stress, HPA dysfunction , or simply looking to optimize their health can also benefit.

    Often, we adjust to a new normal, in that normal can actually be suboptimal, but we dont recognize that since it is how we feel every day and may have forgotten what it feels like to be in an optimal state of health, Kang says. Tracking HRV can be a more objective measure.

    Many fitness wearables make it easy to track HRV. Kang recommends the Oura Ring and Whoop strap. The Apple Watch and some Fitbits also have features to track HRV.

    While HRV isnt a one-for-one measurehaving high HRV doesnt mean youre the picture of perfect health, and low HRV doesnt mean youre illit can help you measure trends and suggest that it may be time to make a healthy change. For example, we see a lot of high-functioning people with HPA dysfunction, which is correlated with lowered HRV. For those with a proclivity towards empirical data, tracking HRV trends can be very impactful and reassuring that adopting certain behaviors are truly helping them.

    Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria

    The inclusion criteria for relevant studies were: involving at least 10 healthy subjects aged between 18 and 44 years in average without diseases relevant for HRV analysis in the training group physical training intervention with a minimum of 4 weeks with eight training sessions randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental trials, cross-over controlled trials, or controlled trials without randomization measurement of at least one HRV parameter at resting position before and after the intervention through Holter ECG or chest belt studies with 24-h ECG measurements when a short-term recording segment at resting position was analyzed full-text in English or German language and human subjects. Exclusion criteria were: studies with subjects with diagnosis of dementia, mental diseases, neurological diseases, endocrinological diseases , cardiac diseases, hypertension, Parkinson, or other health-related diseases measuring acute exercise effects or HRV during exercise single-case studies, Review articles, short communications, letters with insufficient information to analyze the results, guidelines, theses, dissertations, qualitative studies, scientific conference abstracts, or studies on animals 24-h ECG recording without short-term analysis at resting position HRV assessment through recording the pulse rate manually or through photoplethysmography and studies with professional athletes.

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    Why Is Hrv Important

    Measuring HRV is important because it gives you an indication of how your autonomic nervous system is doing. More specifically, its a reflection of your cardiac vagal tone, telling you how balanced your nervous systems sympathetic and parasympathetic branches are.

    The autonomic nervous system regulates certain body processes, such as blood pressure and the rate of breathing. This system works automatically , without a persons conscious effort.

    Its normal for these two branches to be in constant competition with each other thats what causes the differences in timing between heart beats.

    Think of it like a game of tug of war: the more balanced this competition is, the higher your HRV is. But if one side is overly active, you can see a decline in HRV.

    Thats important because the sympathetic branch of your nervous system is responsible for your fight or flight response , whereas the parasympathetic branch is responsible for resting and digesting. As such, a low HRV can be a sign that your body is spending too much time in a heightened state of stress. And while such a response is normal and useful when youre recovering from an intense workout, it can cause health issues if it becomes chronic.

    Because of this, its useful to keep tabs on your HRV so you can see trends and adjust your lifestyle, workout regime and stress management strategies accordingly.

    Always Consider The Hrv As A Trend And Not In Isolation

    1 Breathing technique to improve Heart Rate Variability & resistance to stress

    In 2008, Lampert et al. showed that Decreased Heart Rate Variability was associated with increased inflammation in middle-aged men. Thus, HRV is also a relevant indicator of cardiac health.

    Consistently low HRV may be an indicator of chronic stress that can lead to heart diseases. According to a study published more than twenty years ago in Circulation, Low HRV is predictive of an increased incidence of death in patients with heart disease and elderly subjects and a higher risk of coronary heart disease in the general population.

    Low Heart Rate Variability is also associated with psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. A low HRV is not a death sentence, though. It just means that it may be good to consider health and fitness and changing your lifestyle.

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    Stress Heart Disease And Heart Rate Variability

    Your heart is not just a mechanical pump in the body. It is a vital organ that is being affected continuously by autonomic nervous system impulses and hormonal changes triggered by stress, which can significantly contribute to cardiovascular disease. Chronic stress can cause essential hypertension , as well as a variety of other negative health problems. Its a proven fact that men with high levels of anxiety and anger are more likely to have coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

    A new study from Harvard Medical School’s Massachusettss General Hospital has recently confirmed a link between stress reactivity in the region of the brain involved in processing emotions and having an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes .

    In fact, the study found a 14-fold increase in the risk of a cardiovascular event after having increased stress activation in the brain. Whats that mean? It means that reducing your stress reactivity should be at least as important a priority as nutrition and exercise, and that heart rate variability needs to be on your radar, especially if you have a history of cardiac issues.

    Hrv Is Highly Individual

    Many of these HRV tips have worked for a variety of people. However, HRV is highly individual, so remember to always compare your HRV to your own averages and avoid comparisons to others.

    As often happens when we try something new, its also important to experiment and see what works for you, your body, and your lifestyle. Improving our physiology takes time each of these habits might take several weeks to build and deliver benefits, but exploration will only help you find whats best for your health!

    About The Author

    Marco is an HRV expert and data scientist with a background in computer science and physiology. Over the years, he has published more than 50 papers at the intersection between technology, health and performance.

    References Kemp, A. H., & Quintana, D. S. . The relationship between mental and physical health: insights from the study of heart rate variability. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 89, 288-296

    Flatt, A. A., Esco, M. R., Allen, J. R., Robinson, J. B., Earley, R. L., Fedewa, M. V., & Wingo, J. E. . Heart rate variability and training load among national collegiate athletic association division 1 college football players throughout spring camp. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 32, 3127-3134

    Sandercock, G. R., Bromley, P. D., & Brodie, D. A. . Effects of exercise on heart rate variability: inferences from meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 37, 433-439

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    Heart Rate Variability Tells Me The State Of Your Autonomic Nervous System

    The autonomic nervous system is tied to every automatic process in the body, and comprises of two main branches that control the bodys stress and recovery processes. It regulates blood sugar, body temperature, blood pressure, sweat, digestion, and much more.

    When looking at your individual heart rate variability, what it tells me is how stressed or burnt out your system is, or on the other hand, how resilient you are to stress. When your heart rate variability is low, it can take longer to improve your health outcomes as compared to someone with high HRV.

    How To Improve Heart Rate Variability

    What Is HRV (Heart Rate Variability)? 5 Ways to Improve It ...

    Methods for increasing HRV include the following:

    Intelligent Training. Dont overdo it and push too hard for too many days without giving your body an opportunity to recover .

    Hydration. The better hydrated you are, the easier it is for your blood to circulate and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your body. Aiming to drink close to one ounce of water per pound of bodyweight each day is a good goal.

    Avoid Alcohol. One night of drinking potentially decreases HRV for up to five days.

    Steady Healthy Diet. Poor nutrition has adverse effects on HRV, as does eating at unexpected times.

    Quality Sleep. Its not just the amount of sleep you get that matters, but also the quality and consistency of your sleep. Going to bed and waking up at similar times each day is beneficial.

    Auto-Regulation. In general, trying to get your body on a consistent schedule is helpful. Your body does things more efficiently when it knows whats coming.

    Learn More: 10 Ways to Improve Your HRV

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    Be Flexible With Your Workouts

    Cant rearrange your life around a number in an app? Fair enough: we all have bills to pay and families to support. The solution: workout flexibility.

    When your HRV is in the gutter , be smart: walk your dog, do some mobility work, and come back stronger after a good nights sleep. When your HRV is high, take advantage of the situation: do a few extra sets or add a little weight to the bar.

    For most people, lifestyle is less malleable than training, says Nelson. But when you adjust training based on HRV, you wind up training and resting both harder and smarter.

    How Often Does Apple Watch Take Background Heart Rate Measurements

    Apple Watch automatically measures your heart rate in the background at intervals that vary based on your activity level, as described in the following support article. For example, measurements can be taken automatically every one, two or three minutes – your heart rate. What it means and where to find it on Apple Watch.

    Weight lifting app

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    What Is The Average Heart Rate Variability

    As we have seen, heart rate variability can depend on a number of different factors. This makes it a highly individualized metric that can be difficult to compare from person to person. Instead, monitoring this data for trends in your own heart rate variability baseline metrics can be more useful.

    That being said, high heart rate variability numbers can be an indicator that your heart is functioning well, adapting to environmental stressors, and seeing an increased level of fitness. Keep in mind though that this metric can be sensitive, and fluctuate from one day to the next.

    In general, younger people tend to have higher HRV numbers than older people, males will often have higher numbers than females, and elite athletes will have higher numbers than just about everyone else.

    What Is The Relationship Between Breathing And Heart Rate Variability

    What Is HRV (Heart Rate Variability)? 5 Ways to Improve It

    The relationship and synchrony between breathing and HRV is known as respiratory sinus arrthymia . RSA is the product of interaction between baroreceptors and the medulla oblongata of the brainstem, where cardiac and breathing rhythms are generated. In fact, the ANS plays a vital role, via the vagus nerve, in the interplay between breathing and the cardiovascular system.

    In simple terms, the two branches of the ANS are under the control of the breathing centres and exert opposite effects on the heart. During the inspiratory phase of the cycle, HRV is reduced due to the inhibition of the vagus nerve and the consequent promotion of the sympathetic system increasing the heart rate. On the contrary, during exhalation, the vagus nerve is reactivated slowing down the heart rate increasing HRV.

    These variations are normal and occur in the absence of respiratory disease. In fact, they are in place to help achieve homeostasis by promoting efficient gas exchange.â

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    How To Read Heart Rate Chart

    For the most accurate reading, place your finger on your heart rate and count the number of beats in 60 seconds. Your resting heart rate is the heart rate that pumps the least amount of blood you need because you are not exercising.

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    Discovering And Monitoring Your Heart Rate Variability

    Some doctors may have an EKG machine they use to perform a routine assessment, but it is not the norm. Endurance athletes often use a chest strap or other heart rate monitor as a tool for monitoring improvement and even detecting arrhythmias.

    For my 50th birthday, my daughters gifted me an Oura ring. Slipping it on my finger, I went about my daily life while it tracked and measured things like my activity levels and how well I slept. The first couple of weeks establishes a baseline for your personal averages in the areas of activity, sleep, rest, and recovery.

    The app on my phone told me that I was getting around 94-98 for sleep efficiency. That didn’t surprise me since I make it a point to practice good sleep hygiene on a regular basis.

    What did catch me off guard was the score I got for HRV, although it shouldn’t have been a surprise considering my iron levels were low due to menorrhagia over the last few years. In addition, I’ve had low cortisol on and off for years.

    Because of a particularly challenging month, I was not able to do much exercise. I could see that reflected in my numbers. Even though I hadn’t been exercising my heart rate was higher than normal for me, because of low iron. This is another benefit of knowing these numbers, if your HRV indicates you need recovery time you can explore the reasons why.

    There are other ways to discover what your HRV is, such as the Whoop wrist device monitor which is more affordable than the Oura ring.

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