October 1


HRV and Fibromyalgia

By Sue Ingebretson

October 1, 2019

ANS, chronic illness, Exercise, Fibro, fibromyalgia, Fitness, heart, HRV, rate, recovery, relaxation, Stress, tracking, variability

What’s HRV? How do HRV and Fibromyalgia relate to each other? If you’re not familiar with heart rate variability, you probably should be. Today, we’ll take a quick look at this vital metric and why applying what you learn can speed healing to both your body and brain.

 What’s HRV?

You can’t swing a stick in a conference room full of natural health professionals without hitting someone who’s discussing their personal HRV story. It’s the buzzword of the season. At the last three conferences I’ve attended (both in-person and online), it’s been a prime source of conversation.

 It’s an in vogue topic – for good reason.

 HRV, heart rate variability, is the interval,

or variability, between heartbeats.

Many popular fitness trackers monitor heart rate. That can be helpful to keep track of your peak state of activity during a workout. However, the body’s ability to “recover” after a workout and go back to a resting heart rate after exertion is what’s at the core of HRV tracking.

 Those in the fitness world are avid followers of HRV monitoring. HRV gives athletes a way to measure their fitness and toning progress and incremental improvements in stamina by using their heart rate as a guide. (Hang on if you’re not a gym rat. Even if you think this topic doesn’t apply to you, it likely does — in a surprising way. Keep reading.

  HRV is a great indicator of overall health and vitality.

What's the deal with HRV and #Fibromyalgia? Share on X

How to Track Your HRV

 True HRV monitoring requires a specific device. FitBit products and others do monitor heart rate, but the HRV component is better served with a dedicated device such as a heart rate chest strap.[1]

 There are also wearable devices such as the Oura ring[2] which was all the rage at the nutrition conference I attended in LA a few months ago.

 If you – like many – are not interested in investing a lot of money into an HRV specific device, that’s okay.

 The purpose of this article is to let you know why understanding the connection between your heart rate and your overall health is important – and why it relates to you.

 See the fibro section below for more info.

 (Funny side note. When I typed “How to determine your,” into the search bar, before I could finish the sentence with “HRV, ” the top suggestion of “spirit animal” popped up. No Google, that’s not what I was looking for. But, nice try.)

HRV and Fibromyalgia

Why does this matter for fibro?

I can answer that in one word: stress

The fibro body is one that’s already stressed out.

We know that our bodies are stuck in the fight, flight, or freeze mode. We’re dealing with chronic stress and chronic illness which impacts our sympathetic nervous system response.

The ANS (autonomic nervous system) is gassed up and raring in overdrive. And, it doesn’t downshift well.

While the subject of heartrate variability helps athletes to measure performance, the subject – in general – helps those with chronic health challenges to better understand their body’s reaction to stress.

Because HRV is a good gauge of how the body recovers after a stress response, it’s another indicator of the impaired fibromyalgia body. Many of us have a wider than average heart rate variability in the first place.[3]

Add the insult to injury that after stress, our heart rates don’t go back to “normal” (whatever that is) very quickly.

The bottom line is that HRV is one determinant to show recovery rate. Those dealing with fibromyalgia have shown a poor recovery rate in general and poor recovery from exercise, specifically.[4] So, that’s why these two topics are often linked – or you’ll be hearing more about it in the future.

 HRV is essentially a biomarker of

your body’s ability to bounce back (or not).

How to Improve Your HRV

I talk/write a LOT about stress. I’ve been sharing stress-relieving techniques and practices for more than ten years.

It’s a good thing, then that all the calming, relaxing, body healing practices I mention so often to aid in fibromyalgia recovery also help to improve your HRV.

Practice any of these regularly to improve your heart health – as well as your whole body health.[5]

    • Prayer
    • Meditation
    • Tapping
    • Moderate exercise
    • Deep breathing
    • Singing/Humming
    • Improving diet with nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods
    • Proper hydration
    • Yoga
    • Tai chi & Qigong
    • Gratitude 
    • Getting into nature/grounding
    • Improve sleep habits
    • Playing/laughing 

Of course, there are many others to try. What are your favorite relaxation techniques?

Improving your HRV helps to build a better brain and body. These topics and much more are detailed in my new book, Get Back into Whack. Look for more details on my book’s release date coming soon.

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/heart-rate-variability-new-way-track-well-2017112212789

[2] https://ouraring.com/how-oura-works/?

[3] https://fibromyalgianewstoday.com/2016/05/13/variability-in-heart-rate-as-an-objective-measure-of-fibromyalgia/

[4] https://www.painscience.com/articles/fibromyalgia.php

[5] https://drjohnday.com/17-ways-to-increase-your-heart-rate-variability-and-life-expectancy/

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"True Healing requires a combination of healthy nutrition, healthy body movements, and emotional wellness. This is what I call the Restoration Trio" ~ Sue Ingebretson