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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Babayode

Beginners Guide to Heart Rate Variability

Listen to Your Heart

When thinking about intelligence we tend to think of brainpower but did you know the human heart sends more messages to the brain rather than the other way around? Maybe we should get used to the phrase heart power.

Recent science tells us that the heart has its own circulatory system and its own network of about forty thousand neurons, it is an intelligence in its own right.

One way we can make use of the intelligence of the heart is through understanding Heart Rate Variability (HRV) which is the beat to beat differences between consecutive heartbeats.

The science of heart rate variability has been tested and verified with over 300 studies and is an opportunity for us to utilise our intrinsic intelligence for better health decisions, managing stress, and a better lifestyle.

Heart rate variability results from the two sides of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) the sympathetic and the parasympathetic side. The sympathetic side is known as the fight or flight system and the parasympathetic side is known as the rest and digest system.

What Can Heart Rate Variability Give You?

Besides the obvious benefits of having a healthy heart to help prevent the increased incidence of heart disease in our modern era, it is coming to light that the Western-led model, of the heart, just being a pump doesn’t quite tell the whole story. We see this change in consensus in much of the newly discovered science and reappraisal of the heart.

Beyond the physical manifestation of diseases of the heart, we also contend with emotional challenges. While we don’t have widely accepted elegant (scientific) models of how to interpret these types of challenges we are getting to a closer acceptance that they do exist and are useful in determining wellbeing if the messages from the science of the heart are heeded.

The interplay between the two contributing sides of the autonomic nervous system gives us a clue about how mastering HRV can help you live a healthier more fulfilling life. The sympathetic fight or flight side is just that, it helps you fight, flee or freeze and the parasympathetic side helps you rest and digest. You wouldn’t be resting and digesting with a tiger on your tail you’d be fleeing likewise it would be inappropriate to rest and digest in times that demand stressful actions. Heart rate variability allows you to dip into each side of the nervous system when needed to get the appropriate response.

The problem is current lifestyles habituate us to live on the sympathetic side more than on the parasympathetic side, so much so we tend to be out of balance and closer to burn out. Understanding how to manage your HRV will give you tools to redress this imbalance, while there is a genetic aspect to HRV there are also factors you can influence to optimize it.

Mastering HRV with a variety of tools from the simple to the sophisticated makes solutions accessible to anyone who will invest a little time and effort into seeking solutions for a more balanced life.

If you would like to know more about how Heart Rate Variability (HRV) can make a difference in your life contact us at



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