What is a good heart rate variability range?

When measuring Heart Rate Variability (HRV), one of the most frequently asked questions from app users is, “Is this a good score?

Quick refresher: HRV is NOT the same as plain old heart rate (HR) expressed in beats-per-minute (BPM). This article explains why HRV can be much more powerful to track instead of heart rate.

Knowing where your HRV stacks up can help you determine your starting point relative to the “norm”. It is important to note that comparing your HRV to others can be tricky. There are many factors such as age, health, gender, and fitness level to account for. HRV is also sensitive to small changes in physical and mental health. Therefore, when seeing where your HRV values stack up, it is best to compare yourself against people within a similar demographic.

Elite HRV App

Population Comparison for HRV data

This research review covers ranges for HRV values for RMSSD, SDNN, HF/LF, and more based on published research. Below you will find similar values for Elite HRV app users with a primary focus on the Elite HRV score.

Keep in mind, the Elite HRV user base may not directly represent the general population. We have a higher representation of elite and recreational athletes that typically have higher HRV scores. This may slightly skew the sample stats when compared to some medical research studies. That said, we do have a very large population sample (over a million readings) that helps increase the confidence of the data analysis. There is also a significant number of “average” health seekers and a number of people rehabilitating from serious injuries, illnesses, or diseases.

The average HRV score for Elite HRV users is 59.3 (on a 1-100 scale) with 75% of users’ HRV scores falling between 46.3 and 72.0.

Graph of HRV Scores from Elite HRV users

Histogram data of HRV scores for 24,764 Elite HRV users.

Whose data are we looking at? Starting with over 72,000 users and over a million readings in our database, we first narrowed the readings down to only short-term time-domain “morning readiness” readings. Then we removed the obviously inaccurate readings (usually generated from incompatible measurement devices). We then further reduced the population sample to Elite HRV users that have taken more than one “morning readiness” reading resulting in a conservative sample population of 24,764 people. An average HRV score was generated for each person that fulfilled this criteria and those average scores were used to develop statistical HRV results.

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Heart Rate Variability by Age and Gender Breakdown

The Elite HRV population sample was further broken down into age and gender groups based on user input data to allow users to compare themselves to others within their same demographic group. The Elite HRV users (based on the 35% of users that optionally input their age and gender details) are 13.9% females and 86.1% males.

As can be seen from the charts and tables below, HRV decreases with increasing age for both genders. To learn more about how gender influences HRV and why HRV decreases with age, see this post.

Chart of HRV Scores of males over different age ranges.

Chart 2 – This chart shows Elite HRV scores statistics for 8,873 males over different age ranges. The data is presented as box plots that represent the medians, 1st and 3rd quartiles, and extreme values (minimums and maximums). There are also markers for means at each age range.

 

Chart of HRV score vs. age for male users

Chart 3 – This chart shows HRV Score vs. Age for 8,873 Elite HRV male users.

 

Chart of HRV scores for females over different age ranges

Chart 4 – This chart shows Elite HRV scores statistics for 1,435 females over different age ranges. The data is presented as box plots that represent the medians, 1st and 3rd quartiles, and extreme values (minimums and maximums). There are also markers for means at each age range.

 

Chart of HRV score vs. age for female users

Chart 5 – This chart shows HRV Score vs. Age for 1,435 Elite HRV female users.

 

Chart of HRV score presented by age and gender

Table 1 – Data from 10,308 Elite HRV users showing ln(rMSSD) and Elite HRV Score presented by age range and gender.

 

Elite HRV Scores Compared To Other Platforms

We get questions about how Elite HRV’s “HRV Score” compares to the scores from other HRV software applications so we thought it might be helpful to show how Elite HRV’s normal demographic values translate to other platforms.

Keep in mind, the data used to calculate these scores was gathered on Elite HRV’s platform, so it does not necessarily represent the user populations of those other platforms and does not take into account different artifact cleaning algorithms and other potential differences. There are other HRV software applications that are not listed in the below table because they either do not publish their scoring system or do not have a large user base.

hrvplatformscomparison

Table 2 – Data gathered on Elite HRV platform shows rMSSD, ln(rMSSD), and “HRV Scores” for Elite HRV and is calculated for other HRV software applications based on published calculations. The data does not necessarily represent the user populations for the other HRV platforms.

 

 

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Take a deeper look

HRV Demographics

For a deeper look at the research on how and why age, gender, and fitness level impact HRV, check out the series HRV Demographics

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Heart Rate Monitors

To measure HRV and the state of the autonomic nervous system (particular the parasympathetic nervous system), an accurate and convenient heart rate monitor will be necessary. HRV data is quite sensitive, so not all heart rate monitors will work. Our preferred options are our finger sensor (CorSense) and these alternatives.

Part 1

Age & Gender

Part 2

Fitness Level

Part 3

Health, Medication & Guidelines

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