Heart rate variability: The most important health metric you aren’t tracking


Since recovery is such an important part of your overall fitness routine, HRV is one of the most helpful metrics for telling you if your body is recovered (i.e. not in a stress or sympathetic state) so you can train again.

For example, maybe you’ve been working out a lot and not sleeping much — but you always stick to your 6 a.m. workout no matter what. You can technically feel fine, but you risk overtraining if you’re pushing yourself too hard (especially without enough sleep). While using a sleep tracker is definitely helpful for measuring how well you slept, HRV is another way to see how well you actually recovered from previous training or even just from a stressful situation or night out partying.

In order to measure HRV you need some type of heart-rate monitor that can accurately measure patterns in your heart rate. Some of the most popular devices that incorporate HRV tracking are the Whoop and the Apple Watch.

Since HRV is kind of complicated to measure accurately, it’s helpful if you use a device that also tracks your sleep, resting heart rate and max heart rate so that you get a bigger picture look at your health.

For example, Whoop tracks your HRV, heart rate, exercise and sleep and uses an algorithm to offer suggestions for recovery or training. If your HRV is good (higher numbers are better) then you’re in the optimal state to exercise or adapt to any type of stress.


About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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