In the contemporary world, one wouldn’t be surprised by the saying that “living is harmful” per se. Empirically, each day progressively makes your health worse – especially after coming of age. Not to be blunt, but there are thousands of scientific medical studies that contradict each other on virtually all of the issues. For example, simultaneously, research pieces approve of the lark lifestyle – and others that prefer the night owls. What is regrettable, though, is that all of these studies are done with all the evidence-based medicine methodology and should theoretically reflect the universal objective truth.
Anyways, being a passive fatalist is not a perfect line of action, either. It is widely accepted that 50% of our health is determined by lifestyle and behaviors, 20% – by hereditary factors, 20% – by environmental factors, and, lastly, 10% – by the healthcare system. Considering that perfectly manageable factors cause the biggest impact – 50% – on the health status, it would be in everyone’s best interest to improve upon it and change lifestyle for the best. There are great smartphone “blood pressure and heart rate app” derated specifically to help you. Indeed, you can even routinely check blood pressure with iPhone.
What to begin with? Well, it is widely known that stress is one of the most detrimental factors leading to health deterioration in urban populations, so, for starters, you can try limiting the stress you’re experiencing.
How to Measure Stress?
Stress occurs when a combination of influences – both from the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system and from the hypophyseal portal system, mediated by the stress-inducing hormones – occur. Sympathetic adrenergic impulses act immediately, while hormonal signals take some time to kick in.
What is convenient is that it is possible to track the finished result of the stress-inducing interaction and, respectively, de-facto measure stress by monitoring one specific organ’s functionality. This one organ is traditionally heart – simply because the technology of monitoring its physiological and functional status by tracking electrical potentials of contracting heart muscle is so well researched and familiar.
Introducing Heart Rate Variability
The ECG measuring is to this day bulky and cumbersome. Additionally, what is the point of ECG if you mainly need to track your normal heart rate? You will not even need it – heart rate variability (HRV) can be quite as helpful, if not more, and infinitely more available.
What is Heart Rate Variability?
Heart rate variability is a comparatively new and exciting metric. It was born deep into sports medicine and just recently begun slowly crawling its way out of the obscurity to the general awareness. Its main feature is hidden within its simplicity – bear in mind, though, “simple” does not equal “substandard”.
According to the corresponding Wikipedia article, “Heart rate variability (HRV) is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats”. So, there is never a perfect rhythm in your heartbeats – even though it may feel like one, there is a constant variance in the beat-to-beat intervals.
Heart rate variability becomes chiefly fascinating when one notices a strong relationship between it and psychophysiology. For example, high HRV values seem to be correlating with mature emotion regulation and proper decision making, while low HRV values tend to show reversed conclusions. The “heart skips a beat” aphorism got some clinical implications to serve as a foundation. Furthermore, last but not least, HRV can play a role as a prognostic predictor for some severe and potentially fatal internal diseases, including myocardial dysfunction, liver cirrhosis, and cancer.
Heart Rate Variability and Stress
But let’s not sway away from the main topic. We are interested in how the stress levels can be detected and correspondingly evaluated using heart rate variability data, aren’t we? What is a good heart rate variability, after all?
The answer is rather trivial. Low HRV values suggest that the sympathetic nervous system dominates the body, and high values are the opposite. Consequently, the sympathetic nervous system’s domination means something is not right – you are experiencing stress. And that’s it!
How to Measure Heart Rate Variability?
First of all, you need to gather the raw heart rate data upon which all the calculations will be done. The near-infinite multitude of ways can do this. For example, you can always purchase a specific heart rate tracker or incorporate it into your fitness watch device! Moreover, the technologies even allow gathering heart rate data using nothing but the finger and smartphone camera (though this method frankly lacks accuracy).
Once you have raw heart rate data, it should be processed to extract the statistical heart rate variability values. You cannot even hope to do this manually – you need the help of software complexes. Luckily, they are easily available on the web and are better known as health tracker apps.
What App is Best to Choose?
If you are a newbie in this special field of knowledge, I strongly advise using the Welltory app. The main pro bono argument is that Welltory is immensely user-friendly – its target audience is common people – and, pardon my choice of words, foolproof. Quite literally, everyone should quickly catch a grasp of how Welltory works and be able to incorporate its conclusions into a lifestyle.
Welltory provides its users with neatly organized conclusions of Performance, Energy, and Stress. The names themselves are pretty intuitive. A refreshing surprise is that the app is distributed on the Freemium model and the basic measurements mentioned above are free. It can be used as a meditation tracker and designed to be the best sleep tracking app.
In any case, you should remember that no health tracking app can substitute the actual physician’s service. So, should you feel the need, do not hesitate to contact your local doctor – especially in the present-day context?