This week, Zach, Leah, and I started wearing a device called the “Biostrap.” If you’ve ever heard of or worn a FitBit, it’s a very similar piece of equipment.
The most data collected by the Biostrap (and reason we’re most excited about it) is Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
When most people hear this term, their minds’ immediately jump to traditional Heart Rate. However, HRV is measuring something completely different than heart rate.
Rather than measure the average times your heart beats in a minute, HRV measures the average time between heart beats.
For instance, let’s say your heart beats 3 times. The time between beats 1 and 2 is 980 milliseconds, and the time between beats 2 and 3 is 1050 milliseconds. Your HRV for those 3 beats would be 70 milliseconds (the difference between 1050 and 980 milliseconds).
So why is this important, and how does it relate to the nervous system?
Heart rate Variability is lower when the sympathetic nervous system is activated. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the sympathetic nervous system is our “fight or flight” state, and it’s great to have…
But only when we need it.
If your body spends too much time in a sympathetic dominant state, it can be a sign of poor health or future poor health.
Thus, heart rate variability is a great way to monitor where you sit on that spectrum from day to day.
Things that might decrease your heart rate variability include:
If your HRV decreases for a day or two, that’s ok – it’s just a sign that you need to start thinking about how you can help your body to promote a state of recovery and relaxation.
For example, if your HRV decreases after an intense cardio circuit, your body probably needs a day off of exercise to recover. It’s also possible you aren’t optimizing your nutrition for the intensity of those types of workouts.
As another example, a night of moderate drinking will significantly decrease your HRV. Once you see how much it plummets, you may think twice about ordering that extra round ;-)
If your HRV is persistently lower than what’s normal for your age and sex, you’ll need to take a hard look at the stresses in your life, whether they are physical, social, or work related, and ways you can manage them.
Zach, Leah, and I have already gained significant insight to our health through tracking HRV data – if you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out this great article at:
and more information about the Biostrap here:
About the Author
Evan Lewis is a nationwide leader in Neuro Therapy and founded the Baltimore area's only specialist Neuro Therapy facility.
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