HRV (Heart-Rate Variability)

(From Mayo Clinic)

HRV is a form of biofeedback training that involves feeding back beat by beat heart rate data during slow breathing so that the breathing matches heart rate patterns. A biofeedback device shows the patient when they have maximized this interaction on a computer monitor. This affects the activation and calming of our nervous system.

While the rhythmic beating of the heart at rest was once believed to be consistent and regular, we now know that the rhythm of a healthy heart under resting conditions is actually surprisingly irregular.  HRV is an important indicator of both physiological resiliency and behavioral flexibility, reflecting an individual’s capacity to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands. Both a large degree of variability and too little variation can be related to chronic pain, anxiety and depression as well as numerous other symptoms.

HRV Training uses an ear sensor to detect the variations in heart rate and presents a display on a computer monitor. By controlling your breathing pattern and intentionally shifting to a positive emotion, such as appreciation, care, or compassion, your heart rhythms and breathing become synchronized and create a healthier emotional state.

This shift in heart rhythms creates a favorable cascade of neuronal, hormonal, and biochemical events that benefit the entire body. Blood pressure drops. Stress hormones plummet. The immune system pumps up. Anti-aging hormones increase. You gain clarity, calmness, and control.

Why is Heart Rate Variability (HRV) important?

Through evolution, our nervous systems have been programmed to protect us. Dating back to the caveman, those who has a stronger “fight or flight” response were more likely to survive in the primitive world. Over the centuries, this resulted in the human brain being programmed to have a strong “fight or flight” reflex. In the modern world we do not need to fight for our lives, but our nervous system does not know that, so it can become easily activated when there is perceived stress (such as giving a presentation before others, meeting new people, worrying if you think your child is in danger, etc.) This constant activation of our nervous system can manifest as anxiety, anger, and even physical symptoms. HRV has been shown to interact with the vagus nerve, which directly connects to our “fight or flight” system.

What is HRV good for?

HRV has earned the second highest level of “EFFICACIOUS” for the following:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Attention Deficit Disorder
  3. Headache- Adult
  4. Hypertension
  5. Temporomandibular Disorders
  6. Urinary Incontinence in Males

For the other areas, the research that has been conducted is very promising.

Probably efficacious (Third level):

  1. Alcoholism/Substance Abuse
  2. Arthritis
  3. Chronic Pain
  4. Epilepsy
  5. Fecal Elimination Disorders
  6. Headache- Pediatric Migraines
  7. Insomnia
  8. Traumatic Brain Injury

Heart Rate Variability Training will help you increase your changes to succeed by learning to regulate your own body during stress situations like a sports competition. The benefit will certainly go beyond the sport and to daily life events like solving exams at school, relationships, and social interactions.

These are some of the benefits HRV can provide:

  • Better personal health
  • Development of Emotional Control
  • Better performance at work
  • Improved learning
  • Improved stress management
  • Decrease in sleep latency
  • Increased ability to control emotions
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Lower Blood Pressure