Heart rate variability (HRV) is one of the most significant physiological biomarkers that we are now able to monitor and measure. HRV is essentially a sensory system for the body, as it looks at how the body processes the external environment to regulate the internal environment. It gives us a non-invasive look at your autonomic nervous system, which consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When your heart beats like a metronome, meaning a lower HRV, it is correlated with increased sympathetic nervous system activity, or your “flight-or-fight” response. When your heart varies significantly from beat to beat, the parasympathetic nervous system activity, or your “rest-and-digest” response, is increased.
The autonomic nervous system controls over 90% of your biological processes, including regulating blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, body temperature, digestion, metabolism, the balance of water, electrolytes and many more. We need to regulate these processes, as significant fluctuations can lead to very serious health conditions, even death in some cases.
As you can see, HRV is not just for high level athletes or very active people. HRV was first widely used in cardiovascular medicine and research with over 50 years of peer-reviewed publications. This research has shown that HRV is correlated to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, longevity in cancer survival rate, risk of developing metabolic syndrome, cognitive performance in individuals with Alzheimer’s, and many others. We now have the ability to monitor on a daily basis so if you are serious about your health, you need to be measuring your HRV as knowing this, you can make the correct decision to live a long and healthy life.