Heart rate variability training isn’t just cool, it’s a tool
The majority of us are conditioned to think of the brain and body as separate entities but in reality, each system of your body is in a complex interaction with the others. Take your heart rate, for example, you’ve probably noticed that your heart beats a bit faster when you’re nervous or excited, and slows down when you’re relaxed or drifting away.
Keeping track of your heart rate is good health advice but if you’ve decided to take the plunge into bio-optimization, it’s only part of the story this organ has to tell. Your body’s autonomic nervous system regulates the majority of your unconscious body functions, such as respiration or heart rate. The sympathetic branch of this system controls the fight-or-flight response, providing you with an immediate reaction to a danger or a stressor. The parasympathetic system, on the other hand, promotes rest and recovery.
The variability of the beat
A healthy person’s heart doesn’t beat at a constant frequency. A beat of 60 beats per minute won’t necessarily translate into a beat per second. The time difference between each set of beats can vary greatly and this is what heart rate variability (HRV) refers to. When you’re stressed, anxious or afraid, your body’s automatic stress response is triggered. The parasympathetic system quickens your heart rate, makes you sweat but also decreases your HRV. A steadier HRV is your body’s way of telling you you’re afraid.
HRV can, therefore, be used to measure how well you respond to stressors. If you’re testing a new workout regime, measuring your heart rate variability can tell you how stressed your body feels – i.e. how challenging your new workout is. It can also tell you when you’re facing a subconscious fear, which is the first step towards overcoming it.
Facing Fears, Jedi Powers and Mastering the Heart
In fact, your heart rate variability is one of the most powerful bio-optimization tools you have at your disposal. Learning to measure, recognize and regulate your HRV is known as heart rate variability training and it can greatly enhance your physical and cognitive performance. Essentially, HRV training teaches you to use technology to recognize when your heart rate variability changes and use your consciousness to control your primal fear response. In turn, this helps you achieve greater mental clarity, optimize your physical workouts or conquer your subconscious fears, ultimately helping you become the best version of yourself.