We’re always hearing about how important it is to keep our heart rate low, right? Well that’s true. When you’re physically at rest, the ideal heart rate is between 60-80 beats per minute (bpm). However, Heart Rate Variability should actually be high. You see, Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure of the overall flexibility of your heart rate as it increases and decreases. The heart rate in a healthy person will change, sometimes dramatically, to accommodate the situation at a moment’s notice. When physically active, heart rate rapidly increases. At rest, the heart rate smoothly and efficiently slows down to match.
When a person is chronically stressed, the heart rate tends to become less flexibile. It might stay elevated even at rest. There will still be fluctuations, but they will be smaller and it will take the heart rate longer to respond to changes in the person’s activity. An example of low heart rate variability is someone who has a high heart rate even while sitting and “relaxing”. In fact, “relaxing” might feel like work when HRV is low.
At the root of HRV is the way we breathe. By using diaphramatic breathing, anybody can alter their heart rate’s flexibility, or HRV. Over time these systems, respiration and cardio, can learn to dance together and so create a high degree of heart rate variability. Results will be increased stamina, better focus, clearer thinking, and a sense of calm even in the midst of a storm.