Is stress affecting your health? Stress is a huge problem in today’s fast paced, crazy world and it can definitely take a toll on your health. Studies show that chronic stress increases your risk of many health problems including; anxiety, depression, digestive issues, heart disease, sleep problems, and weight gain – just to name a few. Have you ever wondered how well your body is coping with stress? A great place to start is to have your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) assessed.
What is HRV?
Heart Rate Variability is an important measure of the health of your nervous system and one of the most reliable indicators of stress. When we think of heart rate, we generally think of a fixed number somewhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute but this number actually represents your average heart rate. Your heart rate naturally varies from beat to beat, increasing as you inhale and slowing down as you exhale. This variation in your heart rate is called Heart Rate Variability or HRV for short.
The source of the variability in your heart rate is your autonomic nervous system (ANS). Your heart receives input from both halves of your ANS – your sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) and your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest response). These two sides of your nervous system compete for control over your heart rate. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the heart to beat faster while the parasympathetic nervous system slows the heart rate and improves variability. Heart rate variability represents your nervous system’s ability to respond and adapt to the various stresses you face every day. High HRV corresponds to strong and balanced sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, and better ability to cope with stress. Low HRV indicates an imbalance within theses two systems, higher stress levels and reduced ability to cope with stress.
Ready to Test Your HRV?
There are a number of different ways to measure HRV. You could easily “Do It Yourself “ using a heart rate monitor and an app for your phone from a company like: Bioforce, Sweetbeat or Ithlete. At Santé Chiropractic and Wellness, we offer HRV testing as part of our New Patient Consultation, and also use it to monitor our patient’s progress throughout their care. The goal of chiropractic care is to identify and remove any interference from your nervous system so that it can function optimally. HRV testing helps us to assess nervous system function and balance and to monitor improvement.
How do you cope with stress? Please share in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you! Know someone who could benefit from the information in this blog? Feel free to share.