A high HRV suggests a better response to stress, improved immunity and cardiovascular health; whereas a low HRV can be linked to sports injury, depression and increased mortality.
There have also been some interesting studies on our ability to make sound decisions when our HRV is optimal. Counterintuitively, higher resting heart rates (in anxiety) produces lower HRV, whereas slower resting heart rates (in relaxation and resting athletes) produces a higher HRV. As well as health, HRV can vary with age, gender and fitness, but can be a great benchmark when adopting new and healthy habits.
There are several available devices on the market: Oura ring, Apple Watch, Whoop band, Fitbit and Polar watch, which can all be connected to an app on your phone and provide metrics for your health (biomarkers). As well as HRV, they can monitor other variables such as sleep quality, temperature and rate of breathing. The idea is that it will hopefully improve and reinforce healthier routines, also known as ‘biofeedback’. Healthy habits and achieving them can be found on my previous articles.
Besides tracking data, there are also wearable devices which send signals to the body, to reduce states of anxiety, heighten our parasympathetic (vagal tone) and counteract the adrenaline-driven sympathetic tone, to improve one’s HRV. A couple on the market (yet to gain FDA medical approval) are; Sensate, a pebble which vibrates at a specific frequency; Apollo Neuro, a wrist band which offers stimulation through touch receptors; and ‘Alpha-Stim’, which is FDA and NICE approved, which produces an electro-chemical stimulus to the brain when attached to the earlobes (successfully used in treating anxiety and depression).
Below are some easy ways to improve HRV through increasing your parasympathetic drive: