Time to improve your HRV
HRV (Heart Rate Variability) is simply a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat. This variation is controlled by a primitive part of the nervous system called the autonomic nervous system (ANS). It works regardless of our desire and regulates, among other things, our heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion.
The ANS is subdivided into two large components, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight mechanism and the relaxation response. HRV is an interesting and non-invasive way to identify these ANS imbalances.
If a person’s system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between subsequent heartbeats is low. If one is in a more relaxed state, the variation between beats is high. In other words, the healthier the ANS the faster you are able to switch gears, showing more resilience and flexibility. Over the past few decades, research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening depression or anxiety. A low HRV is even associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
RECENT STUDY on Heart Rate Variability vs chiropractic care adjustments
A study done in 2006 showed that people who received a Chiropractic adjustment improved their HRV and lowered their risk of heart disease and other possible health problems. Spinal pain does not serve as a reliable indicator of nervous system interference similar to how pain does not serve as a reliable indicator of high blood pressure. Proactive spinal care serves as a proven method of proactive health care. Pain-free Chiropractic intervention offers better health and function to heart of every family.
Research proves that Chiropractic adjustments directly influence the autonomic nervous system, improving heart rate variability and increasing the heart’s ability to recognize and adapt to stressors. Health research continually proves Chiropractic adjustments influence health and function far beyond simply making a positive impact on back and neck pain.
Tips to improve your HRV in a few simple steps?
Studies show that regular exercise is one of the best methods for improving your heart rate variability. However, it is also important to avoid overtraining. Strenuous activity reduces HRV (Heart Rate Variability) in the short term, so it is essential not to consistently take on too much strain without giving your body adequate time to recover.
It’s no surprise that a smart and healthy diet will benefit your HRV, but something many of us may not realize is that the timing of your food intake can affect it as well. Your body functions better when it knows what’s coming and regular eating patterns help maintain your circadian rhythm. Additionally, not eating close to bedtime (within 3-4 hours) will improve the quality of your sleep by allowing your body to focus on other restorative processes instead of digestion.
Your level of hydration determines the volume of your blood, and the more liquid you have in your system the easier it is for blood to circulate and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your body. Drinking close to an ounce of water per each pound that you weigh is a good daily goal. On average, when you are hydrated HRV increases by 3 milliseconds.
Reduce Alcohol intake
Studies have shown that consuming alcohol, decreases HRV by an average of 22 milliseconds the next day. Additionally, research has discovered that the lingering effects of alcohol in your system may continue to suppress your heart rate variability for 4-5 days.
Setting all the sleep your body needs is a great start, but equally as important is making an effort to go to sleep and wake up at regular times each day. Sleep consistency will boost your HRV by helping to sustain your circadian rhythm, and also enables you to spend more time in REM and deep sleep
Natural Light Exposure
Going outside in the sunlight after waking up in the morning and watching the sky change from light to dark in the evening trigger biological processes involved with regulating sleep/wake times (see sleep consistency above), energy levels, and hormone production. This will also improve alertness, mood, and vitamin D production.
Cold Thermogenesis (Cold showers)
Exposing your body to cold temperatures for brief periods of time (cold showers, ice baths, etc.) will stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system and controls heart rate variability.
Studies indicate that slow, controlled breathing techniques can positively impact your HRV. They will also help to combat stress, which has been shown to inhibit heart rate variability. Learn more here about breathing methods and how they work.
Anecdotally, many people have reported that practicing mindfulness and/or meditation has led to improvements in HRV. As with slow breathing techniques, both will help you reduce stress. In fact, even dedicating just one minute per day to mindfulness exercises can have real benefits.
The act of writing down things you’re thankful for each day can elicit a corresponding uptick in heart rate variability. It is also linked to lower blood pressure and decreases in stress hormones. Download our journal.