Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability: January 2020 Update

How’s my progress on the road to achieving a resting heart rate (RHR) as close to 40 beats per minute (bpm) as possible? Shown below is my RHR data for August 2018-Jan 2019, which corresponds to the 6-month period after I started tracking RHR. When compared with that period, am I still making year-over-year progress?

jan hr

First, note that my Jan 2019 RHR value of 47.4 bpm seems dramatically reduced when compared with Aug-Dec 2018. My computer crashed in Jan 2019, and I lost 4 days of January 2019 RHR data, with remaining data for 27 days. Accordingly, I didn’t expect to be better than that, year-over-year. Nonetheless,  my average RHR for Jan 2020 is 46.9 bpm, which is superficially better, but it isn’t statistically different from Jan 2019 (p = 0.13). However, my RHR is still going in the right direction!

What about my heart rate variability (HRV)? Relative to Jan 2019 (56.6), my HRV in Jan 2020 was significantly higher (76; p=0.003), but note that I didn’t additionally improve my HRV relative to December 2019 (86.3).


I’ve been consistent with my exercise program, including weekly workouts (3-4x, ~1 hr each session) and walking (15-20 miles), so are there other variables that may explain the sudden increase in HRV from Nov 2019-Jan 2020? During that time, I’ve been cutting my calorie intake by a small amount (~100-200 cals/day) below my body weight maintenance intake, with the goal of getting leaner. As a result, I’ve slowly decreased my body weight from 157 to 154 during that time. Although there is a weak negative correlation between my body weight with HRV (R2=0.0553), this association is statistically significant (p=0.024). So reducing body weight may have played a role in the sudden HRV increase:

hrv bw

For those who may have missed my other post updates for RHR and/or HRV:
Dec 2019 update:

Oct, Nov 2019 update:

Sept 2019 update:

Also, why a RHR as close to 40 bpm may be optimal:


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


2 thoughts on “Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability: January 2020 Update

  1. Stuart Berkowitz

    RHR (Resting Heart Rate) is a important predictor of longevity, but VO2Max is claimed to be better. “CRF (VO2max) is the strongest independent predictor of future life expectancy in both healthy and cardiorespiratory-diseased individuals. ” Also ways to boost VO2Max in 4 or 12 weeks follow “Results of the Resistance and Endurance exercise After ChemoTherapy (REACT) study found that both a high-intensity and a low- to moderate-intensity resistance and endurance exercise program over 12 weeks are effective in reducing general and physical fatigue, but favoring high-intensity training when it comes to improving VO2max (mean VO2max improvements of 4.4. ml/kg/min after high-intensity versus 3.3. ml/kg/min after low- to moderate-intensity training) (68). Even shorter term high-intensity endurance training over 4 weeks appears to offer superior and clinically meaningful improvements in VO2max (+ 3.5. ml/kg/min) ” For RHR “However, only endurance training and yoga significantly decreased the RHR in both sexes…Their meta-analysis revealed a reduction in heart rate of 6.59 bpm in studies that compared yoga with no-treatment usual care. … endurance training causes RHR reductions of 8.4% in older individuals which were even higher in controlled clinical trials with a training length of more than 30 weeks”


    1. Michael Lustgarten Post author

      I care about consistent, long-term gains, Stuart. Can I decrease my RHR more quickly? Yes. CanI mantain that level of intensity to keep my RHR low? Probably not. Slow and steady for this, imo.



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