5 Tips for Understanding the Role of Heart Rate Variability in Sports

Being prepared for the big challenges is really important for athletes. Since there are a lot of finances involved, there are many methods and examinations that are used to assess their readiness. Not only for the people competing, but their teams are responsible for their well-being so they know whether they can count on them. 

One of the examining methods is the heart rate variability. Tracking variability can give many benefits including the condition of the person competing, and basic quality of life outside of the training program. With that, you will be able to tell whether the person is progressing, or there are changes to be made for that purpose.

To understand how this method works easier, we have prepared this article. You will have a chance to understand the variability measurements better, and to see their role in the sports industry.

What does the HRV measures

Source: imore.com

While the basic rate measures the number of systoles in a minute, the variability is measuring the time sequences between each systole. Although the sequence between each beat seems equal, it actually isn’t. 

This is being calculated by measuring the squares between each upper pointed spike on the electrocardiogram as explained by Welltory. As you can notice, there is always a small differentiation between each spike. When we put that in an example if we have a rate of sixty, that does not mean that we have a systole every sixty seconds.

The nervous system involvement

The part of our nervous system that is working on its own or autonomously, is highly involved in the variability between each beat. There are two parts, the first one, or sympathetic is involved in a situation where there is a stressful factor. This means that it primarily makes the rates higher. The second part is parasympathetic, and its purpose is resting situations.

That means that it lowers the rates of heart. When we have given basic information on what they do, it is time to show their involvement in the HRV. Each one of them has its own effect on the work of the heart. As long as there is a balance between them, everything should function well.

However, there are situations where only one of the branches is doing its effect, or it overrides the other one. That is not good in regular situations, but if a sympathetic portion is more dominant, the person’s heart would react great during excessive loads. 

How does the variability indicate the level of fitness

Source: metrifit.com

Basically, having a high heart rate variability means that you are able to comprehend every situation that involves running or any other type of activity. That is related to the equality of the nervous branches we have told before. 

If you happen to measure a low heart rate variability, that means that one of the parts of the nervous system that work autonomously is overriding the other one. As we have stated before, for situations where you need high activity you will have no problems

But, if you happen to have the sympathetic part activated during the resting period, you will have no energy supplies left for basic functioning. That is why having equal affection from both of them is important for well-functioning.

If both of them are doing equal effects on the heart at the same time, you will be ready for any challenges that you might come upon, and that is what good HRV basically is. There are also applications out there that you can synchronize with your HRV, Apple Watch or other similar devices. You can find these types of apps on the app store.

Understand the rates

The variability between the rates of the heart varies between every person. You cannot expect to have the same score as your colleague because you are two different people which function differently. The chart is done depending on the person’s age. Even then there are differentiations because there are many things that affect the score. 

For young adults, the HRV should be from fifty to a hundred milliseconds. However, if we are talking about athletes that have their hearts under larger loads often, it can be up to two hundred ms. For older generations, it can vary from twenty up to fifty ms. 

In addition, you should not do a comparison between your HRV and the others. Instead, you should follow the trend of every score measured and track your progress like that. Although we have stated some of the rates, everyone is different and the scores they have tracked have to be discussed with their doctor.

What affects the variability

Source: drtracygapin.com

The number of years that each person has is not the only determinant to group up the heart rate variabilities. Other things have their effect as well. Besides the age, you can consider gender and some genetic conditions as a thing that affects the variability score. 

The way you are training at the moment can also show changes on the tracking chart. If you are doing more intense workouts for many days without rest, you can see how the score changes. That is why it is important to find balance and have good resting periods as well. 

Lastly, we should consider the variations in choices the athlete makes. If they happen to worsen their diet or consume alcohol their HRV will change. If they have been under stress lately, or they have worsened their sleeping schedules and habits, their score will worsen as well. 

How to make your rates better

If you want to increase your variability, we should talk about the way you are working out first. You have to make sure that you are not exercising with full intensity every day. You have to give space for recovery. 

Next, you will have to make sure that you have the intake of a proper liquid. Being dehydrated is not only bad for the score, but it also affects your whole well-being. 

The things you eat are important as well. Make sure that you are eating enough energy products and protein. Avoid unnecessary calories and alcoholic beverages. 

Lastly, you should pay attention to your resting periods. Without proper sleep, your results will not come up as quickly as they could’ve. Avoid using digital devices before you lay down, and the experience will increase almost immediately.