Improving Heart Rate Variability

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

What is Heart Rate Variability?

Why is it Important?

Factors You Can’t Control

Demographic (age, gender)

Hormone Cycles

Emotion and Stress

Illness

Factors You Can Control

Sleep Routine (eg. room temperature)

Nutrition, Alcohol, Caffeine, Medication, Hydration

Physical Fitness

Practicing Control

  1. Breathing Exercises:

Improve your HRV, by practicing a breathing technique called box-breathing. The exercise is simple, inhale for 4 seconds, making sure to fill your belly and then your lungs with air. Hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, steadily and slowly, hold for 4 seconds, and repeat the process.

Start integrating this practice in the morning by spending 5 minutes of box breathing. Treat it similar to practicing meditation, where if your mind begins to wander, bring it back to the breath, and continue the process.

2. Meditation:

Meditation has a host of mental and physical health benefits. The practice of meditation is not a complex process since it is the act of stoping and allowing one to clear their thoughts. There are many forms of meditation, so if one form is not working for you now, it might be best to practice another. If you are new to meditation or looking for different options, try using Headspace, Sam Harris’ Waking Up, or Oak.

3. Cold Showers:

Cold showers where cold stimulation is focused on the lateral neck region can result in a higher HRV and assist in modulating stress responses. Similar to breathing exercises, ease into the practice. Try approaching the desired temperature over a two minute period rather than going straight into the cold temperature. Another approach is the contrast method where you expose to 60 seconds of cold followed by 20 seconds of hot. This ratio allows your muscles a few seconds to ease up and improve circulation.

Heart Rate Variability

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Adam Dipinto

Business Analyst for Payment Processor. Writing about Web3, Payments, and Technology.