Spring Fitness Tracking: Heart Rate Variability
Are you working out the same as you have for
years but aren’t getting the results you once did?
– gaining weight instead of maintaining or losing
– feeling unusually tired or exhausted after exercise
– not being able to easily calm down after a workout
Rather than just pushing through – or worse yet, pushing harder – it may be time to look at your nervous system and the role it may be playing in the change you are experiencing.
Let us explain…
The autonomous nervous system (ANS) is comprised of the sympathetic nervous system (also known as the “fight or flight” response that puts the body on high alert to deal with stress) and the parasympathetic nervous system (a rest mode that brings on calm and relaxation).
Research is showing that the more easily our body can fluctuate between these two systems, the better health we may have.
And one way to monitor this?
By way of heart rate variability (HRV).
Heart rate variability is the variation in time between heartbeats. When adapting between sympathetic mode and parasympathetic mode, the higher the variant in time, the better your body may be performing.
This means that if you are living primarily in sympathetic mode (dealing with chronic stress, sleeping issues, digestion upset, etc.) and not proving your body enough parasympathetic mode (such as meditation, resting, yoga, etc.), your variant time may be low.
This low variation between heartbeats can mean that your body isn’t adapting well to the change between sympathetic and parasympathetic modes – which could be causing your unusual workout symptoms.
If you’re body is already stressed, adding on additional pressure and strain can make it worse, causing chronic elevated cortisol levels that can:
– induce weight gain
– create too much energy
– lead to exhausted adrenal glands and fatigue
This is why it’s important to balance the nervous system so you don’t live in sympathetic mode for too long.
But how do you know what your HRV is?
Technology is providing simple ways to track your HRV through smart devices and apps, one of which being WHOOP.
Just keep in mind that everyone’s HRV is different, so rather than comparing yours to others, monitor your own to see what is normal (when you are feeling good) and what it is when you feel off.
To increase your HRV, try changing your workouts to reduce long, intense cardio and to include more:
– HIIT workouts (2 times a week)
– weight lifting
as well as:
– eating protein after working out
– taking an adrenal supplement before or after a workout such as Adrenal
Response® by Innate Response® or Lavela WS 1265™ by Integrative
– meditating after a workout
It’s important to bring cortisol levels down after working out to reduce the risk of weight gain and increased hunger.
If you think you are living too much in sympathetic mode and not enough in parasympathetic, resulting in unusual workout reactions or other health concerns, it may be time to seek support for changing that.
Naturopathic medicine, herbal supplements, and acupuncture can be excellent tools in balancing the nervous system.
For additional information and guidance, please call us at (303) 688-6698 or click here to schedule a complimentary 15 minute phone call with Dr. Graves to discuss your symptoms and to learn how our office may be able to help.
The CNMA office serves the Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, and greater Denver metro area. For those outside of these areas, virtual appointments are also available.