What’s A Good Average HRV? (And Other Heart Rate Variability Facts)
A good average HRV varies on age, gender, and fitness level. Higher numbers (more variable/erratic heart beats, less consistent) have been seen to both improve and track wellbeing, fitness, and health.
A good average HRV is:
80 @ 25 years old
65 @ 35 years old
50 @ 45 years old
45 @ 60 years old.
As you can see, a good HRV depends most on age, and when the heart becomes more set in its ways!
Many fitness trackers, apps and wearable devices, like WHOOP or OURA ring, can tell you your score and trendline improvements. HRV is unique, so pay most attention to your own trendlines and if they are going up!
Heart Rate Variability, Vagal Tone, and Recovery Status
by Jackie Cohen
The condition of your vagus nerve can be measured by tracking certain biological processes such as your heart rate, breathing rate, and heart rate variability (HRV). The use of HRV involves measuring the time gaps (or variability) between heart beats. This variability is a result of the allostatic (adaptive) processes of the body.
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, the more variability there is, the higher your vagal tone, stress resilience, and recovery capacity. With no input from the autonomic nervous system, a healthy heart contracts at an intrinsic rate of about 100 beats per minute. Parasympathetic regulation lowers the heart rate from its intrinsic level, giving more room for variability between beats. Sympathetic regulation does just the opposite; it elevates the heart rate leaving less room for variability.
A high HRV score means that your body is doing a good job of adapting to the levels of mental and physical stress it’s being exposed to. It also correlates with a larger aerobic capacity and increased readiness to train hard with a reduced risk of illness or injury. As a result, it can be used as a fitness barometer to accurately predict an athlete’s performance and recovery potential.
Key Point: When it comes to our training, we use heart rate monitors and power meters; we time our intervals in the pool and at the track. We use lots of different metrics for measuring our performance, but we don’t pay nearly enough attention to the quantity and quality of our rest.
Since rest is when our bodies have the opportunity to repair, regenerate, and make positive performance gains, it makes sense to place some emphasis on measuring our recovery efforts, too. But subjectively relying on intuition or how you feel isn’t always accurate. Heart rate variability is an easy-to-use tool that can be used to objectively assess the state of your autonomic nervous system and, as a result, your training readiness and recovery status.
When the body is in a state of sympathetic dominance, its ability to recover is impaired. Ideally, the recovering athlete should pursue activities that promote parasympathetic dominance, which is when our heart and breathing rates slow. Because we don’t need to run, fight, or hide, the body directs blood flow away from the skeletal muscles and to the organs. We digest our food. We make hormones. We repair our cells. We gain strength. Our body is in a state of relaxation, and this relaxation promotes recovery. The more time we spend in a state of parasympathetic dominance, the healthier we become.