• Christopher Babayode

3 Things You Should Look at When Considering Heart Rate Variability as a Health Tool





Do you wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to Heart Rate Variability (HRV)? Well, Heart Rate Variability is a simple relatively inexpensive tool with a lot of value as a health key performance indicator in the area of stress recovery sleep, and performance. If you want to be knowledgeable about HRV and its usefulness you want to focus on where the data is captured, the accuracy of the data captured, and the technology used to capture it.

Where It’s Captured

Heart rate variability measures the dynamic balance of your nervous system. To capture these details, where the device is worn matters, furthermore not all tools are created equal. We are comparing non-medical commercially available devices which are usually worn on the wrists legs, fingers, or chest.

Accuracy

It’s all about the data. Where the device is worn dictates the quality of data the device can harvest. Chest, arm, and leg were where the first crop of wearable devices were worn. It has since come to light that arms and legs aren’t the best places. The wrist and ankle have bones which doesn’t make for good data collection points. On the other hand (pun intended) late-to-the party finger worn devices use the fleshy base at the finger palm juncture which is a richer source of data without any obstruction.

The chest is a good capture site however the original chest straps suffered because of the technology they used. Now sports-oriented chest straps can be paired with an app but leave the interpretation up to you. Wellness oriented chest straps come with a service provider to help you utilise all the data harvested.

Technology

The first crop of heart rate variability wearables used green far-infrared light, green photoplethysmography (PPG). The better tools use red far-infrared light, red photoplethysmography (PPG). Red is better because green light is dispersed in the body better than red. Therefore red penetrates deeper, gets more accurate data, and does a better job. Medical grade devices used in hospitals use red PPG.


The amount and quality of data you might want is determined by your goals. Some data is better than none as a baseline to work from. To make good progress health-wise, accuracy is better to help build patterns and consistency you can manipulate and optimise around. At a time where health is a premium, this is one tool you can use to help move your health forward and there are tools devices and services for every pocket.

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