Have you ever heard of Heart Rate Variability? If you are an athlete, you probably will soon. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) has been around for a couple of years in the elite athlete communities. While the knowledge of HRV have been known for many years, it is just in the recent few years that it has been available at reasonable prices for athletes.
I have been fortunate to borrow some professional equipment from Polar the last weeks. That is one of the advantages of being a scientist. Polar
kindly provided me with their Team Pro system, and also their new Team Pro shirts. The reason is that both me and Polar want to test if the system can be used in water. So I have done lots of open water swim training the last couple of weeks with friends and trainingpartners. Using Polar´s new shirts.
The advantages of the Polar Team Pro system, is among other things, that it is very accurate. Measuring Heart Rate with r to r intervals, which is very important to my research. It also has a high frequency GPS. The shirt has integrated sensor to monitor heart rate. No need for a chest strap. The shirt is very comfortable to wear. I have used it for both running, cycling and swimming.
Back to HRV. What is HRV and why the big buzz about it in the elite athlete communities?
I explain for short here, and will return to explain more about HRV later.
You might think that your heart beats with an even rhythm. That is not the case. The interval between the individual heart beats varies with a couple om milliseconds through every beat. And that is normal and how it should be. To measure this variability, you need precise equipment. Like a medical grade ECG. Or very accurate heart rate monitors like Polar Team Pro system. There are also other monitors that can provide this accuracy, but not all.
This variability between the individual heart beats, can tell us a lot of things. It is commonly used by athletes to monitor how their body is recovered after training. I am very sure that you will hear more about this in the future.
In our research, we use HRV to monitor how the human body is stressed when exposed to the cold water. Therefore, we do test different equipment to do this. I will be sure to keep you updated!
And if you want to learn more about HRV and athletes, I recommend you read the blog of heart surgeon and athlete Larry Cresswell. He provides lots of information about athletes and the heart.
Disclaimer – I have received the Polar Team Pro system to test for possible use in my research. I am not paid by Polar. I am also testing systems from Garmin (Fenix 5) and Suunto (Spartan)