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Heart Rate Variability: What It Is and Why It Matters

You regularly hit your weekly exercise goals (Active Zone Minutes, anyone?), log your physical activity with exercise modes on your Fitbit watch, and pay attention to your sleep patterns with Fitbit’s advanced sleep tools. But are you getting the most out of your activity?

One of the biggest reasons for this is your heart rate variability, or HRV, which is the ability of your heart to respond to changes in demand for your body’s oxygen and energy stores, as well as stressors in your life, and adjust to them in the form of increased or decreased heart rate and blood pressure (BP).

Your HRV is a powerful indicator of your physical and mental well-being, and it can be measured with a wearable device called a heart rate monitor or a medical device called a heart rate variability monitor (HRVM). Both can be used to track your heart rate and heart rate variability, but heart rate monitors are more common in the fitness industry and are a better option for tracking your HRV over time, as they are more accurate than HRVM devices, which are used more for medical purposes and are not as accurate when measuring the HRV of an individual over time in the same way that heart rate monitors are, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

HRVs are measured in milliseconds, and the more variability in your heart rate, the more “healthy” you are, or, in other words, the better your HRV is at responding to your environment, which is important for your overall health and well-being, and it’s something you can measure to see how your body is responding to the changes you’re making to your lifestyle, as well as your efforts to increase your physical activity and fitness levels, according to the AHA and the Mayo Clinic.

In addition to tracking your HRV with a wearable device, you can also track it with a medical device, and while heart rate monitors are more accurate, HRVM devices are more accurate for tracking the HRV of an individual over time in the same way that heart rate monitors are, according to the AHA and the Mayo Clinic.

How HRV Works

The heart is the body’s most important organ and its primary pump, and it works to keep the body alive by delivering oxygen-rich blood to the body’s muscles and organs, according to the Mayo Clinic. When the heart is beating, it’s pumping blood to the body and returning blood to the heart, and the amount of blood it pumps is called stroke volume, or SV, and it is measured in milliliters, or ml, of blood pumped per heart beat, or bpm, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The heart rate is the number of heart beats you have in a given time, and it’s measured in beats per minute, or bpm, according to the Mayo Clinic. The HRV is the amount of variability in your heart rate, and it’s measured in milliseconds, or ms, of time, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute, and it’s measured in beats per minute, or bpm, according to the Mayo Clinic. The HRV is the amount of variability in your heart rate, and it’s measured in milliseconds, or ms, of time, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The HRV is measured in milliseconds, and the more variability in your heart rate, the more “healthy” you are, or, in other words, the better your HRV is at responding to your environment, according to the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic.

HRV Is Important for Your Overall Health

The HRV is important for your overall health and well-being because it is a marker of your overall health and the ability of your heart to adapt to stressors in your life, according to the Mayo Clinic.

According to the Mayo Clinic, HRVs are lower in people who are older, have a history of heart disease, or have other health conditions that impact their ability to regulate their heart rate and blood pressure, which are two of the major components of the HRV, but they’re also lower in people who are overweight, have a high cholesterol level, or are physically inactive.

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