Your heart rate variability (HRV) score shows the variability between heartbeats. This helps measure how well your heart responds to stimuli like stress and physical activity. There are several ways you can improve your score.

More variability between each heartbeat or a high HRV means the body can adapt better to external and internal factors. It can indicate good heart health. However, HRV is unique to each person. Personal factors like the following ones can play big roles in HRV:

  • sex
  • age
  • medications
  • health conditions
  • body type
  • fitness level

Some factors, like age, can be beyond your control, but making lifestyle changes, including increasing exercise and managing stress, can help improve HRV. This article examines ways to improve your overall heart health and your HRV.

HRV is the measure of time in milliseconds between each heartbeat and how it varies beat by beat. For instance, your heart rate increases when you exercise or experience stress. It can be an important indicator of your overall health. It can help track:

  • stress levels
  • nervous system responses
  • heart health

People with higher HRV scores usually have healthier hearts than people with lower HRV scores. Some people think this is because a higher HRV score shows that your heart can react and recover quickly.

But there’s no exact number or even range that can be a great HRV for everyone. HRV depends on many factors, which can include:

Doctors need to consider all these factors as part of your HRV results. Additionally, your past HRV is often an important number to consider, as changes to your HRV can sometimes indicate a change in your health.

If you want to start using HRV to measure your health, talk with your doctor about your baseline rate and ranges you can aim for when exercising.

Get involved!

There are still a lot of unknowns about HRV.

If you’d like to help answer some of those questions, clinical trials can be a great way to help. You can check out to look for trials in your area dedicated to HRV. You can also sign up to get notification alerts about future trials.

Make sure to discuss participation with your doctor first, especially if it involves changing your current medications or treatments.

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Some factors that affect your HRV can be beyond your control. For example, it’s typical for your HRV to decrease as you age.

However, other factors that you can manage may help increase your HRV. These include:

  • Getting regular exercise: Exercise can improve your heart health and your overall health. This can lead to an increased HRV.
  • Lowering your stress level: Managing daily stressors can help increase your HRV.
  • Taking care of your mental health: Your mental health can affect your HRV. Getting treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions affecting your daily life can help improve your HRV.
  • Looking into alternative treatments: Some people have improved their HRV with alternative medicine treatments, such as biofeedback training.
  • Avoiding or reducing alcohol use: Alcohol can strain the heart more. Regulating how much you drink can increase your overall health and heart health.

Experts have studied several supplements to see what effects on HRV they could have. But at this time, there isn’t enough evidence to say any supplements will definitely improve your HRV.

A few studies have shown that vitamin B12 may improve HRV. It has promise as a supplement for HRV, but experts need to perform more research before drawing conclusions.

For many other supplements, there aren’t enough studies to even have promise. Additionally, experts have often conducted studies with specific populations, such as:

  • young children
  • people with heart disease
  • pregnant people

For many people, taking vitamins or supplements can feel safe, even though experts haven’t concluded that they improve HRV. Always talk with your doctor before taking vitamins or supplements. Any of them can cause an allergic reaction or complication with other medications.

A doctor can order a test of your HRV. Typically, they’ll do this using an electrocardiogram. You may also wear an at-home monitor to measure your HRV results over a longer time.

If you want to track your HRV on your own as a part of a heart health plan, you can purchase devices to measure your HRV at home. Companies typically sell these devices as fitness equipment. Not all home fitness monitors and trackers measure HRV, so it’s important to read the specifications of any device you buy.

You can work with your doctor to find your baseline HRV range. They can help you set HRV goals and can give you tips for improving your HRV. You can then track your HRV at home and report your results during your next appointment.

HRV measures how well your heart reacts to stress and other stimuli. It can be a good way to keep your finger on the pulse of your heart health, but studies involving it need to be more conclusive.

A higher HRV can be healthier than a lower one, but the exact number will look slightly different for everyone. Certain factors can affect your HRV, such as your:

  • age
  • sex
  • body type
  • physical fitness level
  • medications
  • health conditions

Your doctor can help you find your HRV baseline and determine the best HRV range for you. You can improve your HRV by increasing your physical fitness and managing your stress levels, for example.