Your heart rate variability (HRV), can tell you a lot about your overall well being. Therefore, understanding the difference between a high HRV and low HRV is important, especially as you age. In today’s article, we will go over the difference between a high HRV and low HRV, how you can improve your HRV score, and what your HRV score means.
Do You Want a Higher or Lower HRV?
Wanting to have a high or low HRV is dependent upon the situation. When you have high heart rate variability, your body is responsive to both parasympathetic and sympathetic inputs. This is typically a sign that your nervous system is balanced and that your body is capable of adapting to its surroundings.
When you have a low heart rate variability, it’s usually a sign that one branch (either the parasympathetic or sympathetic) is dominating. This can be a good thing. For example, if you’re going for a run, you want your body to focus on allocating resources to your legs rather than to the digestive system. If you’re at rest, you want your HRV to be high, and when you’re active you want it low.
What Is a Good Average HRV?
It’s important to note that what’s considered “high” and “low” HRV will vary from person to person. It is a very sensitive metric, which responds uniquely to everyone. One person might have a steady HRV score while another will experience rapid change. That’s why when evaluating HRV scores, body status observations are important.
A normal HRV for adults will typically range anywhere from below 20 to over 200 milliseconds. The best way to determine your normal level is to use a wearable monitor that measures your HRV in a controlled setting. When monitoring your HRV, it’s important to compare it to your own averages rather than someone else's.
Should I Worry About Low HRV?
An important thing to remember is that heart rhythm and HRV can be incredibly complex. What’s considered low HRV will vary from one person to the next. Also, our HRV will naturally decrease as we age. That’s why it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider regarding any questions or concerns you may have with your HRV.
With that in mind, one of the most common questions we get is “what is a low HRV and when should I start to worry?” Typically, an abnormal heart rate variability isn’t something that will cause a medical emergency. However, it can be a sign of current health problems or issues you will have to deal with down the road.
Is a Higher HRV Score Better?
Understanding your HRV score means understanding your overall health. A higher HRV score at rest is generally a sign of good health. It is also a sign of younger biological age and better aerobic fitness. Of course, it’s important to remember that heart rate variability can be affected by your mindset, surrounding environment, age, and exercise patterns.
What is considered a good HRV for you will depend on your individual circumstances, your starting point, and your goals. While it’s best to compare your HRV to your averages, it’s not a bad idea to see how your score stacks up compared to others similar in age and gender demographics. If your HRV score is below your age-gender demographic range, it may be a sign that there are underlying health concerns.
What is Considered Low HRV?
If you’re trying to determine whether you have low HRV or high HRV, you need the proper equipment. Here are some of the ways you can monitor your HRV:
- Electrocardiogram - Specialists will attach wires to your chest in order to monitor your HRV
- Apps and watch systems - There are several products on the market that can watch your heart rate and check your HRV. It should be noted that the accuracy of these devices is still undetermined
- Chest strap heart monitors - Outside of an electrocardiogram, this is the most accurate method. Chest strap heart monitors are more accurate than finger or wrist devices
If you’re curious about your HRV score, it’s best to speak with your doctor. This will allow you to get the best results possible. However, if you choose to monitor it on your own, be sure to research the products before buying.
How do I increase my HRV score?
Your HRV score is typically tied to your overall well being. The better you take care of your body, the better your HRV score will be. Here are some of the ways you can increase your HRV:
- Take care of your body - By exercising regularly and eating healthy, you can greatly improve the condition of your heart
- Take care of your mental health - Your mental health plays a key role in your heart rate variability. Reducing stress, for example, can greatly improve HRV. Managing anxiety or depression can also make a huge difference
There is another method known as biofeedback training. This involves controlling your breathing to help improve your levels of stress and anxiety.
What Is a High HRV Score?
Remember, HRV scores will vary from person to person. Understanding what can affect your HRV is important. Here are some of the things that can influence whether or not you have a high HRV score:
- Physiological factors such as age, gender, and circadian rhythm
- Heart diseases
- Lung diseases
- Renal diseases such as chronic kidney insufficiency
- Psychiatric diseases such as anxiety disorder, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress disorders, epilepsy, and anorexia.
- External factors such as climate, noise level, and induced pain can all lower your HRV
Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your HRV.
Supplements May Help
You can also improve your HRV through supplements. Supplements such as HRV capsules are designed to help raise your heart rate variability. Combining a healthy regimen of supplements with a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you dramatically improve your cardiovascular health as well as your overall well-being.