It doesn’t matter if your goals are purely to look good naked, perform at your highest levels in sport, or just to manage your health day to day, if you’re not checking your physiological dashboard every day before you go out and tackle the day, then it’s like you’re basically spending money on large purchases without ever checking to see how much money you have in your bank account first. 

Think about it for a minute, would you really go and swipe your debit card at Best Buy for a brand new $600 TV without knowing if you can afford the TV? Probably not. 

So why would you treat the situation any different when it comes to your health, fitness, recovery, and looking good naked? 

Enter the world of self quantification. Today technology has enabled us to take a look under the hood of our bodies to start making better decisions for our goals in health, fitness, and recovery from a physiological point. 

No longer do we have to go off of only subjective measures such as “how do you feel?” because let’s be honest, that’s not a great indicator of where our bodies are physiologically. Often times we can be fooled by our minds in doing more than we probably should or the other way around based on many factors that only our minds can decide for us. 

Now with all the products on the market, we have so many options that make measuring things like our Heart Rate Variability (HRV), Sleep, Heart Rate, and activity more readily available and easier than ever. 

Let’s take a look at Heart Rate Variability and why it’s so important to understand the value of being able to measure it everyday and how it can help dictate your training and recovery.

What is HRV? 

HRV is the measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat aggregated over time. The first step of measuring HRV is computing a time series of beat-to-beat distance (NN), from either an electrocardiogram (ECG) or an optical photoplethysmograph (PPG). Chest straps like Polar H10 use ECG sensors, whereas wristband-based Apple Watch and Fitbit use a PPG sensor. 

The human heart beats at regular intervals due to a periodic electrical impulse from a group of nerves located within the heart tissue, called the cardiac pacemaker or sinoatrial node. The sinoatrial node also receives additional secondary signals from the autonomic nervous system (ANS), located in the brain and the spinal cord. The ANS ensures that in the case of an emergency the heart can pump in large volumes of blood and trigger a fight-or-flight response (sympathetic response), and can thereafter return to its normal pace during rest (parasympathetic response). 

In individuals with a healthy heart, the switch between sympathetic and parasympathetic states should happen quickly and results in a high HRV score, whereas people with cardiovascular disorders or other factors such as bad diet, lack of sleep, or overtrained athletes show low HRV scores. 

Think how much better your efforts would be if you could quantify how much you have in your physiological bank account before going out and just spending money (energy) that you don’t have. Being in debt to your body comes with big consequences such as injuries and sickness to include chronic disease. 

It’s time to get serious about recovering just as much as training. Start quantifying objective measures that matter and you’ll surely see why it’s worth your time.

Be Adaptive. Be Limitless.