Four Most Valuable [4MV] Weekly Tips For Living Longer Better | Newsletter

4MV #239 Heart Rate Variability - good or bad? ✔ here's what you need to know

Published about 2 months ago • 7 min read

⭑ I thought high heart rate variability was bad ✔ I was wrong
⭑ Anger is truly bad for your health ✔ recent research nails the risks
⭑ Industrially processed food increases diabetes risk ✔ 7-year study
⭑ Your shoulders are worth gold to you ✔ 5 simple daily exercises

All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦


Digital health.

Tomorrow, I am running in the State 3 km Masters track championships with 80 runners aged 35 to 89. Each of us is assigned a handicap time, then we run off in mixed heats—men and women, old and young—all mixed together across 5 heats. The running times are then ranked, and the fastest win.

For this reason, I have been paying more attention to my digital health statistics this week. I was surprised on Thursday morning to find that my sleep index was high, but my recovery score was low - "needs attention" it advised.

It made me think about how to interpret the many statistics we get from our wearables. This week, I'll explain Heart Rate Variability (HRV), as it is an essential guide for your daily choices about rest, recovery, and exercise —see item #1.


01 Understanding the difference between HRV, Heartbeat Irregularity, and Atrial Fibrillation

When I first encountered the term Heart Rate Variability (HRV), I thought that variability equated to bad, i.e. not normal, like heartbeat irregularity or atrial fibrillation. However, a deeper understanding reveals that a high HRV is a positive metabolic and healthspan signal.

Your HRV provides insights into the balance between stress and relaxation responses in your body, making it a valuable indicator to monitor (1) overall health, (2) stress levels, and (2) recovery status. Think of it as embodying some of the wisdom of an experienced practitioner of Chinese medicine who is feeling your pulse.

So if HRV is good, and heartbeat irregularity is bad what’s the difference? Here's why:

  • HRV measures the variation in time between each heartbeat, controlled by the autonomic nervous system. A high HRV generally indicates a healthy, adaptable system that responds well to stress, while low HRV can signal stress or fatigue.
  • Heartbeat Irregularity: Arrhythmia refers to any irregular rhythm or pattern in heartbeats, which can sometimes indicate heart disease. It involves the heart beating too fast, too slow, or irregularly.
  • Atrial Fibrillation: A specific type of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation (AFib) is characterised by a rapid and irregular heart rhythm originating in the atria. It increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other complications.

⇒ In a nutshell, if HRV is low, it means that your body is not capable of actively responding to stress, such as when a positive immune system response is needed. A high HRV means that your body is responsive to stress and able to cope.

What this means for you: Knowing the difference between HRV, heartbeat irregularity, and AFib is essential for accurately interpreting the health metrics from wearables such as your smartwatch or ring:

  • HRV Monitoring: Beneficial for assessing stress resilience and overall heart health.
  • Heartbeat Irregularity and AFib Monitoring: Crucial for identifying potential heart conditions that may require immediate medical intervention.

It's a good idea to keep track of your health and stress levels on a daily basis and compare them over time. This will help you to understand your body's patterns and identify what triggers changes in your health and stress levels.

By establishing a baseline and tracking any differences over time, you can work towards improving your overall well-being. Remember to be consistent in tracking and pay attention to the factors influencing your health and stress levels.

Related: Even Very Active Runners Lose Leg Strength Without Resistance Training


02 The health risks of anger compared to sadness and anxiety

A recent study found a surprisingly unique and dangerous impact of anger on our cardiovascular health compared to other negative emotions.

Researchers discovered that recalling past events causing anger led to a temporary impairment in blood vessel dilation, which could potentially increase the risk of heart attack and stroke for up to 40 minutes after the triggering event.

⇒ Contrary to anger, tasks involving anxiety and sadness did not result in significant changes to participants' blood vessel linings, highlighting the unique impact of anger on cardiovascular health compared to other negative emotions.

What does this mean for you? Anger is a natural human emotion that can serve as a healthy response to certain situations, signalling that something is wrong or unjust. However, when we prolong anger or let ourselves become uncontrolled, it is a problem for us and others mentally and medically.

Managing anger isn't easy, but it gets better with practice. Two common suggestions are to:

  1. Identify Triggers: Recognise situations or memories that evoke anger and try to avoid or address them proactively.
  2. Develop Coping Mechanisms: These include deep breathing, mindfulness techniques, listening to calming music, or physical exercise to channel and release anger constructively.

⇒ Tip: I find it helpful to adopt a "beginner's mindset" by consciously viewing potential triggers as if experiencing them for the first time, which often results in no anger. Anger reactions are often influenced by past experiences that shape our sensitivity or emotional response, making them disproportionate to the actual trigger in the present. The "beginner's mindset" helps mitigate the influence of past emotional baggage and leads to more objective and measured responses. ​​

@Medium - Follow me on Medium ↗, covering ⭑food, ⭑brain, ⭑body, ⭑life


03 Industrial food contributes to the onset of diabetes

If you are at any risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, such as having rising blood sugar levels, obesity, inactivity, or a high BMI (according to the CDC, if your BMI is 25.0 to <30, it falls within the overweight range, 30.0 or higher falls within the obesity range), then it's time to eat fewer ultra-processed foods.

Emulsifiers are additives used in ultra-processed foods to blend ingredients that don't naturally combine. They are added to biscuits, ice cream, and processed meat to extend shelf life and enhance texture.

According to a study published in The Lancet, consuming certain emulsifiers daily is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The study analysed the data of 104,000 French adults over 7 years.

⇒ The researchers found a link between the consumption of emulsifiers and a higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

What this means for you: Changing your diet is never easy. I think that it is more effective if you stick to a simple goal, one step at a time.

Here's my one step: start by cutting out 20% of the highly processed foods from your diet. Do this by reading labels, and eating more real food instead of industrial food.

⇒ Once you have achieved the goal of cutting out the first 20%, do it once again.

Here are three practical steps:

  1. Read Food Labels: Check the ingredient list on food packaging for emulsifiers such as polysorbate, lecithin, carrageenan, and xanthan gum. Opt for products with fewer or no added emulsifiers.
  2. Choose Whole Foods: Focus on whole, minimally processed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unprocessed dairy products to minimize emulsifier intake.
  3. Cook at Home: Prepare meals from scratch using fresh ingredients to have better control over the types and amounts of emulsifiers in your diet.


04 Try these shoulder exercises to relieve pain and avoid injury

Our exercise of the week is... 5 exercises for shoulder health.

If you've never had a frozen shoulder, you should take pains to avoid it. It's excruciating and debilitating. (I found that infrared light therapy worked for me, see here: ​​Shining Light On Infrared Therapy - It Helped Unlock My Shoulder )

As we age, our shoulder joints become more prone to injuries and impediments due to a natural decline in muscle mass and joint flexibility.

However, studies show that regular shoulder exercises can significantly improve muscle strength and joint mobility, reducing the risk of injuries.

What this means for you: Choose one or more of these to do regularly:

  1. Pendulum Swing
    Purpose: Relieve pain and maintain mobility.
    How to Do It: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, lean forward slightly, and let your affected arm hang down. Gently swing your arm in small circles, clockwise and counterclockwise.
    Reps: 10 circles each way, repeat 3 times.
  2. Shoulder Blade Squeezes
    Purpose: Strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades.
    How to Do It: Sit or stand with good posture, gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds, then relax.
    Reps: 10 times, repeat 3 times.

    Doorway Stretch
    Purpose: Stretch and improve flexibility of shoulder muscles.
    How to Do It: Stand in a doorway and place your forearms on the doorframe, elbows at shoulder height. Lean forward gently until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
    Hold Time: 20-30 seconds, repeat 3 times.

    External Rotation with Resistance Band
    Purpose: Strengthen rotator cuff muscles.
    How to Do It: Attach a resistance band to a fixed object at elbow height. Hold the other end of the band in your hand, elbow bent to 90 degrees. Keeping your elbow against your side, rotate your arm outward, then
    return slowly.
    Reps: 10-15 times, repeat 2 times.

    Internal Rotation with Resistance Band
    Purpose: Strengthen rotator cuff muscles.
    How to Do It: Using the same resistance band setup, face the opposite way, holding the band in the same hand. Rotate your arm inward across your body, then
    return slowly.
    Reps: 10-15 times, repeat 2 times.

I do all of these regularly, in particular the resistance band ones. I'm keen not to have a frozen shoulder again. Be consistent, your shoulders will thank you!

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you are not yet subscribed to my free exercise app, try now ↓↓↓ Free forever. Opt-out any time. Opt-in by CLICKING HERE PLEASE SEND ME THE EXERCISES. NOTE: YOU ONLY NEED TO SUBSCRIBE ONE TIME.

>> My Latest Blog Post: Energise Your Golden Years: Boosting Your Desire to Exercise with Gut-Healthy Foods

About the newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share about the time you met Chris Hemsworth, or your questions about how to live longer better? Send those thoughts and more to me at

'4 Most Valuable' is a weekly newsletter from Walter Adamson. If you like it, please forward to a like-minded soul. Someone forward this to you? You can subscribe from this page.

Each of these weekly emails has 4MV in the subject line to help you filter them and search for previous ones.

Four Most Valuable [4MV] Weekly Tips For Living Longer Better | Newsletter

​"I empower mid-life men and women to make the choice to live as actively and as independently as they can, for as long as they can", Walter Adamson Get access to my weekly research that I don’t share elsewhere. “My wife and I both read your articles each week, and I have to say there is so much confusing data out there, but yours is a great source, well researched, scientific and always relevant.” — Steve Ridgway, subscriber.

Read more from Four Most Valuable [4MV] Weekly Tips For Living Longer Better | Newsletter

⭑ Muscle strength and flexibility ✔ healthspan secrets #1⭑ Dietary small steps that will improve your longevity ✔ healthspan secrets #2⭑ Specific steps to improve your cerebral fitness ✔ healthspan secrets #3⭑ These lateral side steps will boost your balance and brain ✔ at home All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦 Hello, Research and data. This week, I observed the impact of a COVID vaccination on my "readiness to train" - in other words, my body's capability to adapt to the metabolic...

6 days ago • 5 min read

⭑ Just walnuts and flaxseed oil daily ✔ here's why it helps⭑ Stiffer arteries end up creating damage in your brain ✔ Exercise helps⭑ What! Using your phone in bed doesn’t hurt your sleep ✔ New research⭑ Why knees click and how to reduce or eliminate it ✔ at home All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦 Hello, Clicking knees. My knees have been clicking lately when I squat. I think it is tendons running over some rough bone - or something. It doesn't hurt but I did a little research on it...

13 days ago • 6 min read

⭑ A sleep-deprived brain is not a smart brain ✔ here's why ⭑ Brewer's yeast was an accidental find for me ✔ I now take it daily⭑ Stiff tendons are healthy ✔ As long as they are not too stiff, here's why⭑ Knee tendon exercises to reduce or avoid pain ✔ at home All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦 Hello, Tendons. I've recently been paying a lot more attention to the tendons associated with running. Regular readers will know how, in a sudden urge for social connection, I joined the local...

20 days ago • 7 min read
Share this post