NASA played a role in developing red light therapy in the 1980s. NASA experimented with red light therapy to promote plant growth in space; its research led to the discovery of its health benefits for humans and contributed to the development of modern red light therapy devices.
The heart’s rhythm is a vital indicator of our overall health and wellbeing, and our HRV is key to determining our body’s ability to handle, and move on from stressful situations.
Our lives are full of stressors, internal and external triggers, and our body is adapted to respond to these for our safety. Yet, if we are unable to bring our body down from heightened states of awareness, we live in a prolonged state of fight or flight, which has damaging consequences of our health physically, mentally, and emotionally.
HRV is an indicator of how well our body can respond to stress, and how efficiently it comes down from stress into a state of homeostasis or calm.
Heart rate variability itself is the variation in time intervals between successive heartbeats. While it may seem counterintuitive, a healthy heart doesn’t beat at a constant rate; it exhibits slight variations between each beat.
HRV should not be viewed as an irregularity, but instead a complex and dynamic process that is influenced by varying factors within the human body, including the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
The ANS, consisting of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, plays a pivotal role in regulating the heart rate. The sympathetic system revs up the heart rate, while the parasympathetic system slows it down.
HRV is, in essence, a reflection of the balance between these two systems and the heart’s ability to adapt to different situations.
Nick Wignall of Very Well Mind
writes about this often, and there are some words he uses regularly which I now remind myself of often –
“Anxiety is usually caused by the worry of feeling anxious, than anxiety itself”.
Heart rate variability (HRV) serves as a window into the body’s ability to cope with and adapt to stress, both internal and external.
A higher HRV indicates a well-regulated autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is key to resilience and adaptability in the face of stressors.
A higher HRV indicates a body’s ability to adapt to varying situations. This adaptability and resilience offers numerous benefits to our health as it significantly reduces the risk of chronic disease, inflammation and enhances our mental wellbeing and cognitive function.
Healthcare professionals assess HRV using various metrics and analyses, but typically, they look for the following characteristics in healthy HRV:
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Unhealthy or worrisome HRV values can be indicative of various health conditions:
HRV can be calculated by smart watches and mobile apps, however these will always come with less accuracy than calculations determined by healthcare professionals.
For those interested in monitoring their HRV, options include:
Improving your HRV is an important objective for those looking to build resilience to stress. Particularly for high performers, business people, and fitness enthusiasts, improving your HRV is important to managing the body’s ability to cope with, and come down quickly from stressful situations.
The key to improving our HRV is balancing the autonomic system (ANS), which encompasses both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Over time, effective management of both branches leads to improved variability of heart rate.
As with all physiological improvements, lifestyle choices and habits are the determinants of the health of our body. To improve HRV, you need to be making the right lifestyle choices:
Maintaining a healthy parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is critical.
The PNS calms our system, preventing the body remaining in a heightened state of alertness, being flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, and helps bring us back to a state of homeostasis. Homeostasis the body’s natural point of balance, where our internal biological processes are operating optimally for our overall health, wellbeing, and cognitive performance.
HRV is as a strong indicator of overall health and adaptability to stress.
By effectively managing both branches of the autonomic nervous system and promoting a healthy parasympathetic nervous system, individuals not only improve their HRV, but also enhance their overall wellbeing, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and lead a happier, more fulfilling life.
Prioritising a balanced ANS and nurturing a resilient PNS is key to those looking to live long, healthy, and happy lives, while remaining successful and cognitively astute into old age.
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Heart rate variability is a valuable metric that is key to understand early on.
The sooner you can identify your HRV and begin making improvements, the sooner you will directly improve your ability to perform under stress at work, in business, and when dealing with other stressful live events that unfold.
More than ever, with the constant economic and geopolitical challenges that we have seen since 2020, one’s ability to handle stress and uncertainty is crucial to maintaining your physical and mental health.
If budgeting allows, we recommend everyone invest in the Whoop as the product of choice. The data points that you will get from Whoop, for every aspect of your life, will be a defining moment in your self-awareness of your health and wellbeing.
Thanks to its detailed analysis of your fitness, recovery, HRV, and sleep, as well as other key metrics in your life, you will be immediately inspired to make lifestyle changes that significantly enhance the quality of your life.
Whoop is an investment in every person’s future, especially for those looking to build longevity, remain healthy, and prevent cognitive decline as we enter our old ages.
Having been biohacking my mind and body long before it became fashionable, I’ve always lived by the benefits of nature’s resources to improve cognitive and physiological performance. Using my years of experience, products, and wellness practices, I’m now helping others elevate their cognitive performance to help build the life they want. I save you the time I’ve spent learning, so you can focus your time on building.
I proudly use AI to support development of my articles. As a heavily dyslexic person, writing can be a time consuming process with words often jumbled up and sentences the wrong way round. AI has become my crutch; allowing me to share the immense interest in my mind, while making content creation quicker and more accurate. AI is my benefit.
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