How The Flu Affects Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

Man oh man, I got reminded of how much I hate being sick once again.

On a whim I decided to go to Portland for a day trip. We left at 7am, and here in the Pacific Northwest, depending on the weather, the day actually doesn’t brighten up until about 8:30am – 9:00am. That morning the sky was showing off in a fabulous way. The silhouette of the Cascade mountains, the sun peeking over from behind the mountains, and the sky…. the beautiful mix of orange, red, pink, and purple. It was a masterpiece.

And Portland? Portland was a blast! The coffee scene is on point and people are incredibly friendly. One of my favorite parts of the day was walking around the different neighborhoods and getting a feel for what each had to offer. I even had a chance to go to the Saturday farmer’s market and pick up a set of pasture raised farm fresh bacon. Let me just tell you – DELICIOUS!!!

Unfortunately I didn’t dress for the occasion and was freezing while walking around. I was lent a scarf and beanie which saved me from the worst misery 😉  Though I could tell by the way I was going from freezing one second to burning up another second that this wouldn’t end well.

The next day I was just tired. While I was surprised at how much I slept I didn’t feel the symptoms of a flu so I wasn’t concerned.

However, the day after I was shocked at how low my HRV score was. It was the lowest I had ever seen it. As I was wondering why my body was aching so badly, I reached for the tissue to blow my runny nose and suddenly I was burning up! What I didn’t know the moment I woke up my HRV did and it had a clear message. You need more rest!

Of course it didn’t tell me why, but I thought it was incredibly cool to see the correlation.

Now, that was Monday, and since then my HRV has been reasonably ok and while it suggested I was ready to train I just didn’t feel like it. I decided to take a few more rest days and instead do some light walking and hiking instead.

I realized that while I typically like to workout at noon, I felt better and had enough energy by the afternoon to actually do something. Could I have trained at 2pm? Probably. But would I have much rather enjoyed nature and hiking with family? Heck yes.

I love how tracking my daily HRV has provided helpful information, but what I love even more is tuning in to my own body’s needs both physically and mentally. Intuitively I think the body knows what it wants. Yes, HRV noted I was ready for something more active but was it at the gym? Was it for a barbell? Or was it for a hike with the dog? Or a long walk to the dog park?

All in all I am 100% better, and today? Today I feel I have enough energy for both the barbell and the dog park 😉


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