Reversing ageing with HRV

Rdv hrv graph

As we get older our health deteriorates. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measures health, and that decline in health appears as lower HRV. At the age of 65, my HRV score should be 51. As the graph above confirms, even at its worst my score is always above 65 – the score for a 25 year old[1]RMSSD by age and gender

That’s the result of a generally healthy lifestyle: daily exercise and no alcohol[2]Alcohol and HRV. There are three very obvious declines in 2022, on 18 April, 21 August, and 10 December. 18 April coincides with a cycling accident that resulted in a couple of broken ribs. The first couple of days were agony. It took three weeks before exercise was possible again. The recovery after that was quick, as the graph shows. 

The decline in August was the result of exercising too hard for too long. Not quite overtraining, but pretty close.

The decline in December was stress. This was all part of the HRV Health migration an existential experience for the company[3]HRV Health migration

Since then, there has been a very clear improvement. A big part of that has been the successful migration, but there have been a few additional steps that have produced further improvements.

One has been a change in the exercise regime, giving my body the opportunity to recover properly.

Then, the adoption of regular breathing routine[4]Breathing to improve your health

Added to this has been more and better sleep using a wearable to measure both quality and quantity[5]Sleep tracking

Intermittent fasting is also helping. Eating breakfast after 9am, and dinner at 5pm. It contributes to the improved sleep, and my numbers are approaching an all time high as the graph shows quite clearly.

There are a few takeaways from this. Having always been a proponent of exercise, this is clear evidence that there can be too much of a good thing.

My exercise of choice is cycling, and extended efforts at high pulse rate puts stress on the heart which shows up in the ECG graph, and the Poincaré plot[6]Understanding the Poincaré plot ratio. The decline in my HRV numbers coincided with a decline in the Poincaré plot ratio, which resulted in a lower overall health metric.

I’ve fixed that now. Having the metrics gave me early warning that I needed to take care.

If you want to reverse the ageing process:

  1. Don’t drink;
  2. Don’t smoke;
  3. Exercise sensibly;
  4. Get the right amout of quality sleep;
  5. Avoid or mitigate stress;
  6. Practice a breathing routine;
  7. Intermittent fasting.

In addition, there are practices that are known to have a beneficial impact on health and longevity:

  1. Meditation;
  2. Yoga and/or pilates;
  3. Hobbies / enjoyable pastimes.

At the core of well-being is whether you are happy. Achievement is the result of planning and effort. When we see athletes in action, we see clear evidence of superb health, that is the result of extreme discipline that seems beyond the reach of most mortals.

Now with a reliable metric we can see the result of our more mundane efforts as our HRV numbers improve by following the basics of the a healthy lifestyle. 

I’ve done it, and so can you.