Heart rate variability can be a good indicator of a person’s overall health. When your heart beats, the amount of time between your heartbeats isn’t one hundred percent consistent. The slight fluctuations in timing between your heartbeats are what is considered heart rate variability. The changes generally are undetectable to the trained eye but can be measured with special devices. HRV can predict if a person has health problems like heart conditions, depression, or anxiety. The lower the HRV, the more likely a person is to have an illness. Monitoring HRV used to only be done at a doctor’s office, but monitors are now available to help you measure HRV from your home.
Are HRV Monitors Accurate?
HRV monitors traditionally used electrocardiography (ECG). The clinical systems are expensive, require involvement from a professional, and are not practical for regular everyday monitoring. These devices use chest straps and ECG electrodes to measure HRV, so it’s a little more of a process than some people want to go through. Fortunately, newer devices use photoplethysmography (PPG), that are much more practical and simple to use. PPG technology to detect HRV has been integrated into the wearable wrist and finger-worn devices, making it a much more user-friendly option than the traditional ECG technology.
None of the hand, wrist or arm HRV monitors are designed for complete accuracy while you are moving. To accurately measure heart rate variability using PPG technology in these locations on the body, you must remain fairly still. If you want to measure your HRV with watches that have a built-in HRV function, it’s best to hold your arm and wrist as still as possible. For the most accurate HRV reading, using the chest strap heart rate monitor will give the best results as these devices are built specifically for accurate heart rate variability readings.
Are Wearable HRV Devices Accurate?
If you’re looking at buying a wearable HRV device, you may be wondering if they are accurate. There have been tests done that show that the majority of wearable HRV devices are very precise during rest, but the accuracy declines during exercise. This makes sense, as the majority of monitors work best during times of rest. Wearable devices may be a good alternative solution to the ECG technology for measuring HRV. More studies using non-stationary conditions need to be performed to improve the accuracy of the wearable HRV devices. Some of the wearable HRV devices are used as a wrist monitor, wearable ring, or watches. Many of the smartwatches on the market now utilize technology that tracks fitness and other data like heart rate. If you’re looking for an affordable option that you can use to track your HRV over time, a wearable HRV device is a great idea.
Is Oura HRV Accurate?
The Oura HRV is a popular HRV measurement device on the market now, and for a good reason. The Oura Ring is a great option for people who want an affordable and easy option to measure HRV. There is a new, noninvasive, low-cost method to remotely and continuously track vital signs called photoplethysmography (PPG). The Oura Ring is based on this technology and is used to acquire nocturnal heart rate and HRV information. The Oura Ring has been tested against a medical-grade chest electrocardiogram monitor to assess its accuracy.
The data showed that the Oura Ring could accurately measure nocturnal HR in both the average per night and 5-minute tests. When using the Oura Ring to measure HRV, it seems that it is decently accurate, especially for the price. Of course, if you want the most accurate results, it is a good idea to work with a doctor to use the ECG technology. For most people, the results from the Oura Ring device will be sufficient.
What is the best HRV Wrist Monitor?
The best HRV wrist monitor is the latest, most advanced fitness and health tracker available. A device like WHOOP can monitor your sleep, daily effort, and recovery around the clock to give you advice on how you can improve your physical performance. It can analyze key metrics like resting heart rate and HRV to determine a daily recovery score while showing you specific training behaviors and specific lifestyle tips. WHOOP can analyze your training activities and measure and accumulate those with a Strain score that can help you to decide when to rest from exercise or to push through.
It can also help monitor your personal sleep cycles, debt, quality, and performance to help you know how much sleep you require every night. While you sleep, WHOOP can help track your breathing based on the number of breaths you take per minute. This information can notify you of changes in health when there are shifts in this metric. It also measures your blood oxygen levels, heart rate, skin temperature, and more to track your numbers and notice when something is off your baseline.
HRV Monitor Apps
With all the latest technology, choosing an HRV monitor may be confusing. One of the benefits of using an HRV monitor is that you can track your progress using smartphone apps. Apple can now track heart rate variability in the Health app and other heart-related statistics. Apple’s Health app doesn’t actually take the HRV readings but collects the data from an Apple Watch or other third-party HRV app that is compatible. These can help you get information on the state of your sympathetic nervous system- how your body is handling stress, how you recover from exercise, and even your general heart health. The Health app is pretty limited in its nervous system analysis because it only collects one part of the many HRV metrics available. Some of the information is pretty basic; for example, high means you’re relaxed, rested, and ready to go, while low means your nervous system is in fight-or-flight mode and could use some relaxation.
Other free apps like Welltory may be a better option for HRV tracking, as they break down your HRV results into easily-readable areas. These apps break down your data into categories like performance (representing your HRV in total), Stress (how the sympathetic nervous system is responding to stress), and Energy (how the parasympathetic nervous system is working).