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Balancing our Body

Our bodies do amazing work to keep countless variables in check without us even knowing.  There really is something to the yogic ideal of achieving balance in one’s life—scientifically speaking this attempt to achieve balance is seen across many different systems within the body allowing us to thrive in a state of homeostasis.   Homeostasis is the perfect balance that our body sets out to achieve that provides optimal conditions for life.  It is the foundation of our physiology.

Much like our bodies, our lifestyles need to be ordered in such a way that balance can be achieved. Otherwise, we suffer physically and psychologically.  One area that was long overdue for exploration in my life was finding balance between rest and recovery with workload and strain.  I enjoy being active and pushing myself physically and mentally—and receive some rejuvenation in “being productive.”

However, there have been plenty of times that I have felt things were out of balance and was disappointed in my ability to focus or exercise.  During these times, I was obviously under-rested and not fully recovered from the demands that I had been placing on my body.  I knew this, but without objectivity, I lacked the necessary incentive and direction to change it.   After all, I thought, you can sleep when you’re dead—as I prioritized productivity OVER rest and recovery.

Recently I decided to purchase a Whoop bracelet.  I had heard advertisements and discussed its benefits with a friend and knew that this could provide me with some hard data about my sleep and something called Heart Rate Variability (HRV).  I have no disclosures to make as I am not receiving anything for writing this blog, but feel that the benefit I have received from seeing these numbers and how they relate to my lifestyle choices could be beneficial to others.  Striking a balance between your “Recovery” and your “Strain”, as they are referred to by Whoop, helps your body find a balance and plays a role in affecting this important variable of HRV.

The simplified explanation behind HRV is that it is the variability of time between heart beats.  This matters because increased variability suggests increased physiological resilience and adaptability to physical and psychological stressors.  It is basically an indicator of the balance existing within your autonomic nervous system or in other words, the balance between the commonly referred to “fight or flight” (sympathetic) and “rest and digest” (parasympathetic) components of your autonomic nervous system.  These systems have a great deal to do with your cardiovascular system and hormone release among other things.  We are not striving for complete dominance by one system, but by striking a better balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic systems we create a more optimal physical and psychological status.  This allows us to better respond to and manage the various physical and mental stressors in our lives.

What has made the difference for me is seeing the data and having hard numbers to prove how deficient I have been in my sleep and HRV.  The daily feedback is what helps modify behaviors and those daily decisions are what make up lifestyle choices and patterns.   Knowledge is power, and with the knowledge of performance in these metrics I feel that I have been empowered and motivated to make better lifestyle choices for health and performance.

We should all strive to achieve a better balance between the things that tax our bodies and minds and those that help them rebuild and recover.  This balance is what makes for better performance, resilience, injury-resistance, and well-being.  For more information, contact Omaha Physical Therapy Institute today!


Matt Vetter, PT, DPT, CSCS


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