Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability: December 2019 Update

In earlier posts, I reported year-over-year improvements for my resting heart rate (RHR), from 51.5 (bpm) when I first started tracking in August 2018 to 48 bpm in November 2019 (https://michaellustgarten.com/2019/12/05/resting-heart-rate-heart-rate-variability-still-making-progress/). Did my year-over-year RHR improvement continue in December 2019?

As shown below, in December 2018, my average RHR was 49.5 bpm. In December 2019, it was 47.5! These data are significantly different (p=6.5E-05):

rhr dec 2019

While RHR is one metric of cardiovascular health, heart rate variability (HRV) is another. With a stronger heart, the expectation would be a lower RHR, but a higher HRV. December 2019 was my best month ever for HRV, with an average HRV value of 86.3!

hrv 12 2019

Also note that December 2019’s HRV value is significantly different when compared with December 2018 (p=1.6E-11).

How am I able to continuously improve my RHR, and recently, my HRV? I average 15-20 miles of walking per week, and 3-4 days/week of structured exercise (1 hr/session), including a combination of weights, core, and stretching. My average HR during my structured workouts had been ~105 bpm prior to the past few months, but in November and December 2019 I made more of an effort to minimize rest periods, and included higher reps to keep my exercise HR as high as possible. My goal is to get my RHR to 40 bpm, which is associated with maximally reduced risk of death for all causes (https://michaellustgarten.com/2019/02/02/resting-heart-rate-whats-optimal/). Stay tuned for more RHR and HRV data next month!

If you’re interested, please have a look at my book!

Michael Lustgarten

Ph.D, Physiology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 2009 B.S., Biochemistry, Queens College, 2003 B.A, English Textual Studies, 1994, Syracuse University

6 thoughts on “Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability: December 2019 Update

  1. Thank you for sharing, that’s fantastic! Do you have a recommended workout plan? I mostly just run, but you specified weights and core, is there a reason you didn’t mention running?

    1. Running kills joints over a long period of time, and my goal is longevity with the body that I have, not hip and knee replacements…

      In terms of a recommended workout plan, doing what you enjoy is important, but also tracking RHR, HRV to make sure you’re getting better with age (or at worst, maintaining)

  2. New here – perhaps you’ve answered this before. How are you tracking RHR and HRV? Looks like a phone app …? TIA

    1. Welcome! and WHOOP. I didn’t shout them out in the post because they’re not paying me as a sponsor.

      1. I’ve heard a lot of mixed feedback about WHOOP. Do you find your data to be accurate? Do you take anything special steps to calibrate your data?

      2. I trust everything except for the daily calories burned. They changed their algorithm for that in Nov, when it was close to accurate for me, now it’s ~400 cals inaccurate based on my daily average HR. But everything else, I trust

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