#35 HRV & Physical Performance with Greg Elliott

Introduction Of Podcast

It is often discussed how we can efficiently increase performance while on our runs, on workouts or any of the sports we play. It is interesting to see this has deep correlations with some of the biomarkers such as heart-rate variability or HRV. In this episode, we dive deep on precisely the same with Greg Elliott who has years of work and research in the field of HRV.


  • (00:00 – 01:48) – Introduction
  • (02:06 – 03:06) – Why Should You Love Your Nervous System?
  • (03:47 – 06:58) – Greg’s Professional Background
  • (06:59 – 10:24) – Taking High Perfromance Practices From Athletes To Common People
  • (10:30 – 16:54) – What Is the Bio-Psycho-Social Model Of Well-being
  • (17:09 – 24:20) – Good and Bad Implementations of HRV
  • (24:28 – 30:02) – Frameworks To Look At Real Time HRV
  • (30:09 – 34:44) – Bio-Psycho-Social Differences Between Athletes & Others
  • (34:51 – 37:57) – Why Should One Track HRV?

Key Takeaways – Transcripts

Intro (Mohit): If you have been listening to the Ultrahuman Podcast, by now, the discussions we have had with different guests about HRV. We spoke about the basics of HRV and we then discussed the correlation between emotional health and HRV. We then had a conversation about mental health, high performance HRV. And on this one, we would talk pretty much about the impact of HRV can have any physical performance. It’s a totally different domain. To shed light on the subject, we’re joined by Greg Elliott. Greg is a multi-specialist. He’s an exercise physiologist, kinesiologist and Osteopathic practitioner, who has worked with sports teams in Canada, the US and around the world. Some of you might be very new to these technologies, so we set up the base of this episode by asking Greg what are these specialities all about and how each one of these are correlated with his domain around studying HRV. With his work at HealthQB, Greg tells us about the BioPsychoSocial Model. This is really interesting model about human health and something you would not want to miss. I then asked Greg about both the good and the bad implementations of HRV, something that will definitely add a new perspective when you are about to track this biomarker. Since it’s something controversial. We’ll discuss with Greg the framework to look at real time HRV. I know that this is a evolving space and there’s a lot of bleeding edge research here, we’ll ask for Greg’s perspective. We then segue into understanding the fundamental difference between how an athlete tracks HRV and how everyday folks should actually, with ailments can actually do it. We conclude the episode by asking Greg the million dollar question – why track HRV? Let’s jump right into it.

(Mohit): All right, Greg, it’s great to have you here. 

(Greg): This is exciting. I’m following what you guys are doing and super pumped to be able to have the conversation about all the stuff that you guys are doing and obviously some more educational for your users.

(Mohit): This is great. Yeah. And when I was going through some of your work, I read this somewhere. It said “love your nervous system” What does that mean?

(Greg): Yes, that’s a really good question. It’s probably one of the more predominant questions that we get around people. And right now, with the state of the world and everything that we go into, we’re getting stressed and kind of negative impacts of the world kind feel bombarded us on a continuous basis. And the one that is the kind of reflected, as people say, is they talk about the nervous system, they’re jacked up, or their nervous system is fried, or they’re kind of just over exhausted. And we take the approach of really try to love the nervous system, take care of your nervous system because that’s your primary communication tool from what’s going on inside your body, how your body’s dealing with the external environments, and how your body’s doing internally. So, we really believe that talking about loving your nervous system is a great kind of focal point to kind of overall improve your health and wellbeing.

Question (Mohit): So it’s sort of like a very objective way to look at stress and stressors in general in life, right? So historically, when people would say that they are stressed or they essentially are not able to relax in life or find calm in life, it would be very hard to quantify it. What you’re saying is that there is a physiological phenomenon behind stress and lack of calm, and that’s got to do a lot with your nervous system. So loving your nervous system is sort of like, in a way, loving your emotions, loving yourself in some ways, right? But it’s much more interesting. Seems like it’s very interesting. So we’ll get to that. So before I want to understand another aspect of your life, you’re an exercise physiologist, kinesiologist, if I pronounced that right, osteopathic practitioner, right? Is that the right way to pronounce it? Yes, absolutely. Yeah. So I would love to understand what do each of these things mean and what is sort of like the practical implications of this from a health perspective, just from your side.

Answer (Greg): Yeah, it’s a really good question because typically these aren’t very well known terms around the world in particular, especially even in Canada, a lot of these things in the main scope, it’s kind of all to do with more physical rehabilitation and physical performance, right? So a lot of these things, when you talk about exercise physiology, that’s kind of what my foundational degree is in. It’s the science around what exercise can do to your physiology and how to be able to kind of optimize that in many different ways. And I took the route of more of the clinical populations rather than athletes, which is more predominant. So I really did a lot of volunteer time and a lot of my research around people that are suffering from cardiovascular disease, from various pain syndromes,

from looking at older adults, so look at what we call specialized populations in particular. So it’s more of the science around how exercise can help and how to better prescribe various things. And kinesiology is the more the application of the exercise, right? Exercise selection and biomechanics and everything from there. So that’s one of my postgraduate certifications kind of go through in Canada. And the last degree was an osteopathic practitioner and this is kind of the use of manual therapy when it comes to helping people that are suffering, right? And so, depending on the person you talk about, the nervous system in particular, some people have that nervous system is just highly reactive and sometimes for them to be able to get into exercise prescribed and high levels of physical activity is quite hard. And so I found that osteopathy and osteopathic manual practice was a good way to kind of start to be able to get them kind of modulate their pain a little bit more and modulate some of the sensations that they’re going through to kind of calm the nervous system through manual therapy to start to be able to get them into exercise and be more physically active, to apply some of that exercise physiology. So in practice, that’s what I do. It’s about 10 to 12 hours a week, typically of my schedule dealing with patients that way. But that’s kind of my practical application of a lot of what I do.

Question (Mohit):  So many interesting thoughts around what you just said, right? So one is I can see that when somebody said exercise physiology 20 years back, the implication would be performance, right? And today you’re using excise physiology, kinesiology and other aspects of other aspects that were actually used for exercise performance a few years back into general well being, elevating, chronic illness and other aspects. And when I read about HealthQB and the mission, this sounds really interesting because this sort of seems like a crossover. You wouldn’t expect this to happen a few years back. But then of course, the underlying science, there’s a lot of commonalities, the same body, it’s same human physiology. But then how is that transition actually happened for you? Like, did you start with athletes and take the science to masses and what was your mission around transitioning from athletes to taking this to everyone? 

Answer (Greg): Yeah, it’s a really good question. So I played college basketball, so I was an athlete myself. So we started in high performance a lot of the stuff was geared towards higher performance as you kind of go through various things. And it’s anything to do with when you start to look at health and wellbeing, there’s always seems to be this crossover between health performance, where you look at various things that can improve someone’s health and then people adaptas to how can we improve the physical performance of our athletes and vice versa. That something comes into with athletes, how can it be translated into the health and wellbeing. And so I started with athletes in that area, but my really interest was the people that I couldn’t achieve peak performance and see what limiters necessarily they had and how can I best help them. Because it seems to be an underserved population, but obviously a significantly larger population than high performance athletes. And so I started again to I finished my degree in 2013. I came back home to Vancouver, Canada. And I started working kind of with general population, but also some specialized populations from there nothing to do with high performance, but starting to look at the trends of where things are going and how to best help people. And this is where I got introduced to heart rate variability during my graduate studies, but started to see that it was really applied into performance. I started to look at this to why that is and starting to dig some of the research around that stuff and found a lot of the research is rooted in health and wellbeing rather than physical performance, which is kind of a newer trend in that perspective and starting to apply that. And when you kind of graduate from your school, you think that you have a lot of the tools to be able to help anybody, right? When you graduate from whether clinical counselling or naturopathic medicine or whatever, maybe think, oh, I have everything to kind of help people, when you start to realize it’s like you have a small subset of  skills that can help people, but there are so many other factors that kind of go into the health and wellbeing of people. And this is kind of where HealthQB necessarily was formed, was around that aspect of, you know, people need support around truly applying a holistic health and wellness model to people, and we will be able to provide that information that support around people. And then using wearable technology to be able to kind of provide that objectivity around progression, especially around conditions that may be a little more difficult to truly treat or understand, like potion custody syndrome or chronic pain or talk about depression or PTSD, it provides a little more clarity around that in progress. It’s not only powerful for the patients, but also powerful for the practitioners and clinicians.

Question (Mohit): Wow, there are so many amazing mega trends in terms of what you just said, right? So I can see that if you look at the overall medicine space, that’s obviously moving towards precision medicine, and how do you actually make medicine more preventive, more applicable before people actually fall sick? Similarly, on the exercise science side, exercise physiology side, there’s a parallel wave emerging. And these two things would probably come together in the future because the medical science, the exercise science, the science of wellness, all three are sort of like interconnected. And you seem to have like a very sort of like a and we are going to complicate a little bit further, sort of like a BioPsychoSocial model of wellbeing, can you simplify that for people listening to the podcast?

Answer (Greg): Yeah, absolutely. So to look at health and well being as an overall perspective, you want to be able to look at the major areas and be able to categorize that. And this is with the introduction of what we call the BioPsychoSocial Model in health right now. And it looks at the biological, psychological, and social aspects of health and well being, right? So you talk about what are the biological aspects? There’s certain things that you can and there’s certain things you can’t control. So in biological things you can’t control, there’s your genetics, right, your age. There are certain things that you cannot adjust, but then there’s modifiable factors. When we talk about the big three, which are physical activity, exercise, nutrition, and recovery, including sleep. So it looks at kind of categorizes health wellbeing to various areas. We talk about psychologically, we talk about your mood, your emotions, your mindfulness, your interoception, your mind body connections and then you talk about the social aspects. And this is a really big conversation, actually, in medicine right now, is the social determinants of health and wellbeing, right? Talk about the connections of other people, the support you have, environmental factors. There’s various things that impact your health and wellbeing from there. And so what we wanted to do is be able to people that are suffering from chronic conditions or you can talk about people that are lacking performance in any area, right? And want to be able to optimize various things. You need to be able to address those and prioritize those. As to what’s important for me to be able to address right now. What is my limiting factor to my health and well being that is hindering my optimization and performance, whatever performance may be, it could be to the point of dealing with your spouse, your kids, be able to be the best father that you possibly can, best husband you possibly can. It can be to the point of you want to be able to make the Olympics or something to do with work, related where you want to be able to perform at a very high whatever it may be from a performance standpoint, whatever goal that you want to be able to accomplish. What is the limiting factor relative to the other aspects? And I think one of the when I do a lot of consultations with people, I think people have an idea that they’re optimizing certain areas very, very well and it could be better, but they’re very much ignoring other sides, whether you see a medical doctor. But there’s many psychosocial factors. People aren’t regulating their emotions very well. They completely disconnect their body or the mind. They isolate themselves away from other people and don’t engage in social interactions. Those things can absolutely impact what’s going on and vice versa, where people that are very conscious about their breathing and their interoception and their emotions don’t necessarily have the foundational physical activity, right dietary type of plan, or even the right dietary habits and sleep habits to kind of optimize overall health and wellbeing. So we want to have this be able to be applied to anybody that wants to be able to use it. And our primary focus right now are people that are suffering from chronic conditions because it’s really hard to prioritize. We can all be better, we can all sleep a little bit more in better quality, we can all be a little more physically active. We can all manage stress better, but we all have no time. Everyone’s busy. What do I need to focus on individually? What is the end of one for me to be able to address my health and well being? That is the most important, right? And so we assess those factors and then we use these high fidelity wellbeing products to quantify these changes in people. When you look at heart rate variability when you look at people’s activities, start to look at that data, compile it with the subjective data to provide true progress and the application of what we call a holistic health plan. And it’s all framed around that BioPsychoSocial model.

Question (Mohit):  I love the fact that you mentioned all three interesting aspects of human health, right? You took the biological being to a psychological being, to a social being, right? And as you rightly mentioned, it’s quite common that when we think about the biological being, we often forget the psychological and the social being and vice versa. They’re a way around as well what we have seen, and I find this really fascinating in our own platform where we track glucose for a lot of people the same food, like basically you can see lifestyle activity just becomes different with a different mindset. And I’m not saying this in a voodoo way or saying this that it’s all about soul and connection. But I’m saying that when you’re actually watching your food and you’re eating at the right pace and you’re actually sort of like digesting your food and sort of like giving it the time, the same food might actually not give you a much poorer glycemic response. And I’ve seen that for myself. that when I’m rushing into it and doubled that with high glycemic index food, it’s just sort of like it’s a haywire on my glucose metabolism right now. Some of that is also anecdotal because basically you believe but I think a lot of that is also interesting data. And I’m not saying that a lot of this data is provable today, but in the future, potentially, it’s possible that for every kind of psychological and social change that we see, we will be able to see long range trends of biomarker data. And that would be really interesting because now for what people undermine social aspects of life as speaking to an athlete who’s actually staying in a city that is actually highly polluted and it’s one of the most polluted cities in the world. And the athlete actually moved from that particular city to a much cleaner AQI city. And HRV just sort of like the trends improved significantly. And the athlete was basically saying that, is this my unfair disadvantage in some ways that I’m born in an area where the air that I breathe, that compounds to sort of, like, reduce my recovery? And I think thousands and thousands of people are just doing that every day without the awareness. And that’s still, like, air is something that you can still relate to, your health aspect. But I think about communities, think about people around you, right? All of us know that surrounding ourselves with the right people is important. But what biological impact does it create is going to be really interesting. I’m super kicked about the possibilities of how we will be able to decode the human body via biomarkers. And what you just said, the BioPsychoSocial Model of health it’s so much more complete in itself that I found it really interesting.

But at the same time, I would love to switch gears and because we spoke about biomarkers, I would love to and by the way, we have spoken about HRV quite a fair bit on the podcast, but here’s something I wanted to ask you. From your experience, what are some of the good implementations of HRV and what are some of the bad ones? Because they’re both available, given that there’s so much happening with HRV in this world right now. 

Answer (Greg): Yeah, that’s a really, really good question, because as we talked about, we don’t know necessarily the value of truly measuring nocturnal HRV. We don’t know the value of various things. And truly, right? We have an idea and we kind of are going with it and start to be able to as we apply, we start to be able to kind of formulate the science around it and what we can possibly do and think of different ways to be able to do that. When it comes to heart rate variability and this is, I think the biggest reason why we came up with the foundations of heart rate variability course is that you cannot look at HRV in regards to a silo. And this originally was very frustrating with helping people early on with heart rate variability in particular, is that people think that it’s purely to do that. If I could train hard today or not readiness for physical activity, right? And I remember these questions all the time of saying, I exercise very, very hard, I had  skipa rest day yesterday, and my HRV is worse today. How does that make sense? And I go, well, you could have had McDonald’s and pizza for your food. You could have had fights with various people, you could have gone to bed later, you mess up your circadian rhythm. There’s so many other factors that kind of come into when it comes to understanding heart rate variability and reverse the stress management and using this biomarker appropriately, right? So I think using it in the silo, we also had at the other end of the spectrum where someone was doing breathing training and really focused on doing ten weeks of breathing in particular and doing this, it’s like, well, why isn’t my HRV improving as I started going to it? They eat fast food primarily for their main meals. There are night shift workers, so their sleep schedules all over the map. They’re not physically active at all. They have pre existing health conditions. And it’s like, okay, well, there’s significantly more factors that are coming in. So I think the poor application of heart rate variability is when you start to think of that, that this equals that, right? Or you say looking into a cycle that is purely for physical performance, it’s purely for stress management, it’s purely for this, and you can’t necessarily do that. And this is where I think you have to look at all these factors of what’s going on. And I think it’s probably one of the biggest reasons why heart rate variability  hasn’t been very much adopted into a lot of medical clinics and a lot of clinics in particular. The reason was because there’s so many things that can affect it. And that’s the number one question that when I do consultations with medical doctors or other practitioners like physio-physical therapists, osteopaths, massage therapists, my clients HRV based on standardized data is lower than it should be. What do I do, right? Well, I have to know your patient inside and be able to kind of be able to prioritize those factors. And so I think the best application is looking this as more of if you introduce something into your life, whether it’s a change of diet, whether it’s an exercise plan, whether it’s a journaling, or starting to do more social events, what is the individual impact of changing the various aspects of my behavior, right? If I change this behavior, how does this equate into what’s going on, right? Give you an example. I absolutely hate running. There’s no such thing for me as a runner’s high. I despise every step that I got to go for it. But HRV wise, subjectively, all the markers that come from my psychosocial assessments as well as from when it comes to wearable products is a significant benefit to me. I feel better, my energy levels are higher, I sleep better. All these things come in pack of me having to be able to introduce running. And so I use that saying, hey, but you know what, I do not like it very much. I live by the beach and so it’s literally just a bunch of hills. So it makes it even worse. But I know the value of doing that intervention as much as I don’t like it. But it’s a value to me. It’s enough of a value that I see the benefit of doing it and it’s just like any other intervention. And the number one question that we get from people is when they introduce something that they’ve already done, right? So say, people have some psychosocial aspects, they lack emotional regulation. And we say, you know what, one of the best ways to do that scientifically is through journaling. Well, I’ve done journaling, right? This is going to be a benefit to me, right? I don’t know if it is. People journal, people meditate, didn’t make a difference. They don’t know because it’s purely based on subjective. This is where, again, I find the value of looking at heart rate variability is that we see this now in people because of the ability to get these passive captures, these wearable devices, where we  start to see 50% to 100% improvement in someone’s nocturnal heart rate variability metrics in as short as four to six weeks. In regards to introducing something as simple as journaling, right, have I an example of a client that I have that exactly is what happened to her. By her journaling, in four weeks time, we’re able to show a significant improvement in her nocturnal capture, literally from just introducing journaling and giving the purpose of why journaling is there, why are you journaling in particular start doing it and be able to do it now. She didn’t like it before, she now sees the value of actually doing  it. So she will dedicate the time in order to happen.So I see that the value of putting emphasis in regards to if you have to change your behavior for your health and wellbeing, is this intervention worth it for you?

Question (Mohit):  I think what I noticed is that what you’re essentially saying is that the simplistic definition of HRV can often be misconstrued into many different ways, just like data, right? So you can torture data enough to make it become anything you like. That’s the fallacy of this space. Basically what’s going to happen is that for the next few years, as we develop the platform, and as a lot of data platforms around human health develop, people are going to believe what they want to believe. Because often health is your own definition of health. It’s not somebody else’s definition. Whether you’re healthy or not is your own understanding. And a lot of people would actually say that, oh, my HRV dipped, so I do feel in a certain way, or my HRV rose, I do feel in a certain way. Whereas these two things might lack a lot of context. So having the context is actually probably equal or probably even more important in many cases. And it’s really like a compass. It’s not like a map, it’s sort of like a direction that you can sort of like use it like a directional marker, but you can’t let it drive your life because unless you have context, you’ll driven to places where it does not make sense. This is a very interesting definition because, what we have been seeing is that as wearables become more and more popular, it’s often easy to sell a score and a trend and say that, well, this is what it means. And most people who train can often be convinced that they have overtrained. It’s just human psychology, right? I mean, you don’t know your limits and the other way around as well, otherwise, like even convince somebody that you have not trained enough as well. So it’s going to be important to actually set the right guardrails in terms of the interpretation of this data, leave alone the ability to extract this data. That itself is sort of like a different subject. But, I wanted to sort of dig in into another aspect and I’ve heard this from many, many folks who have actually worked in the HRV space, that there is a Shrodinger’s Cat problem in HRV, which is, when you observe HRV in real time, and I’m specifically talking about real time HRV, which is highly controversial, it has a Shrodinger’s  Cat problem, which is when you start observing it, it changes. Right, so what are some of the frameworks card rails to look at real time HRV?

Answer (Greg): Yeah, it’s a really good question. I find it that ability to be able to, when you start to look at, you, say your own HRV and be able to change it, in particular, a very telling sign that you have the ability with your thoughts in mind to change what your physiology and biology does, right? And I think the number one thing about that I love that HRV does is it brings awareness around what’s going on and the impact of it, right? I think that is a big, big factor is that awareness aspect. And so I completely agree when it comes in the moment heart rate variability, it’s really hard to determine its value and what necessarily any value that it does provide. And this is where you need the standardized capture. And we’re hoping that as we get more research around the nocturnal, we see the value in kind of getting these significant amount of data captures through the night to look at and like does this provide a lot of value? And theoretically observationally right now, it absolutely can. But we have to obviously significantly understand a lot more about nocturnal capture and various captures. But I find in the moment, HRV in particular, it’s a very powerful tool to understand that you can have an impact over your nervous system and your physiology, by what you think and what you feel and what you understand and what you interpret. Right, so that’s where I see a lot of the value in regards to its capture in the moment, is that you can empower somebody to understand that they have a significant control on their own, to control their health and wellbeing and stress levels and everything from there. I think people think that athletes can feel this way, but for sure people that are suffering from chronic conditions and chronic illnesses and diseases is that they feel a lack of control. They can’t control what’s going on. This thing has taken over my body and I can’t necessarily do anything with it. Where we know through research that up to 50% of your outcomes come from what you do in your habits, right? And so we understand the impact of if you can alter your physiology by what you think and how you interpret and what your body is kind of feeling. I find that to be a very powerful message for people, that I can control my stress level by thinking certain things or doing certain interventions. And so I kind of didn’t necessarily answer the question. But to me, I definitely see trying to be able to diagnose certain things or whatever it may be with real time capture and it’s true value, but I find the true value of the awareness and informing and educating people of look how much you can actually. Change what your body does through this objective marker of what you can do. When we start to think about certain things, we do certain things. So I found those powerfulness into that. But I definitely feel, as you said, there’s a lot of emphasis into the realtime capture and a lot of things that aren’t necessarily well understood, especially if it’s not standardized. And so I don’t necessarily like of saying to diagnosing or look at certain things. But I find it that education around the power you have to control your health and wellbeing in the moment at that specific time. The fact that you mentioned that this awareness is really interesting given the fact that you didn’t say that this is the kill all method to understand all about your health. I can relate to one of these things because there are a lot of responses that we actually come across sometimes. And this is awareness is sort of like an attitude, right, in terms of when you look at your health, are you trying to be more aware or are you looking for a pill, right? Essentially those are two different mindsets and what you’re seeing is that a lot of and nothing wrong with it, a lot of individuals would come to the platform and say that, hey, I discovered this biomarker, this is a glucose biomarker and do you know that I drank alcohol and it did not rise? So maybe I am beating the system and yes, you are, you are beating the system. But it did create this awareness that alcohol works differently on your body does not mean that it’s good for you. It means that, I mean, you’ll see it in your data the day after. And similarly, the other type of attitude is like why do I need awareness before I’m sick? It doesn’t make sense because till I’m sick, why do I need to know how healthy I am? Now, this is one stream of thought, but the other stream of thought is that if I have awareness, right, about where am I going, then I can have a scientific, I can have a curiosity mindset and through this curiosity mindset, just like I’m curious about everything else in life, I want the best cars in life and the best home to live in and basically the best gadgets all around. Maybe knowing about your body is probably not a bad thing and these gadgets and systems and tools and biomarkers and algorithms will fail because you can actually beat many of these because human body is complex. But you don’t have to work towards making them fail. You have to work towards making them succeed, rather right, if you work towards making them succeed, which I love about what you said, because you said that this is an awareness method. You don’t really care about whether in real time you’re able to move somebody’s HRV or not, but as long as you’re aware that something like HRV exists which has an implication on your health is a fascinating shift in the way human beings actually think about their own health. And that takes me to another sort of like question that you would have come across many, many times. You have trained athletes, you have trained people who are not athletes as well, people who have ailments. What is sort of like the fundamental difference in terms of psychology and the like, in your words, BioPsychoSocial differences when you train an athlete versus when you train somebody who has some sort of an ailment.

Answer (Greg):  Yeah, so we started to deal with athletes in particular when it comes around. The BioPsychoSocial Model is typically they’re pretty darn fine tuned to what’s going on. So to be a little more particular about changes and adaptations and everything seems to be very routine oriented when it comes to them and it doesn’t take a lot to shift what’s going on. It takes small little things and usually they’re pretty good. Again, you start to see the rise. But in the last 15 years or so of regards to sports psychologists and the mental aspects of it all, it’s pretty good. I think again, some of the adaptations that athletes have, one of the things that’s good in the moment is obviously they can disconnect from what their body is feeling. Whether it’s physical, whether it’s emotional, whether it’s social, whether it’s loneliness, whether it’s depression. That they have the ability to be able to separate that for a very short period of time. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a value to them. And long term it can kind of come crashing down and what’s going on and that’s where the burnouts happened and everything and they can relatively maintain it. So it’s a little harder to be able to discover kind of what’s going on with athletes because you really have to dig deep into a lot of different areas, have really well round with lots of different practitioners because, as we say in the Sports Performance Round, athletes can hide things very well, right? They have the ability to be able to do that. They understand their body really well. Totally. They can hide, they can hide a lot of stuff very well. And so when it comes to people that are suffering from other conditions, I think they definitely feel there’s a lot more fundamental things that are missing, right, to be able to kind of optimize health and wellbeing. So it’s a little more obvious to be able to determine that. The difference is that when you deal with athletes, they have an intrinsic motivation and purpose to be able to drive because they have goals set for sometimes people that are in the general health, these special populations, they might not have a goal or purpose or they lack direction of what to be able to do. Set aside is I do a lot of people that are in chronic pain and I was like, what’s the goal? And the goal is like oh, to be out of pain. It’s not a goal. Yes, you’re in pain. Most people are in pain, various levels of pain. What is pain stopping you from doing that you can’t do anymore? Because it’s usually an impedance to something that they can’t do, whether it’s to the point that they don’t feel that they can play with their grandkids, they feel that they can’t run anymore, they feel they can’t do things. Pain is stopping them from doing something. So the focus is not necessarily on removing pain or reducing fatigue or these type of things. It’s one of these things stopping you from doing and that is your goal is to achieve that. I don’t find much value of people that are suffering from conditions. Like, so it’s really painful. For example, I don’t find the value of asking how so much pain is in every single day, every single time that I see them, because then they associate themselves as being the person that’s in pain. And it’s hard to remove that label, to be able to progress. Just like someone that’s in suffering fatigue or a person who suffers from cancer, right, they associate with that condition and you have to be able to disassociate and provide to the point of like, what does this stop you from doing and how do we get you there in particular? So I’d say from athletes, they can hide things very well, so it takes a lot more dissection of these people. From many different areas, people determine what’s the limiting factors where it’s a little more obvious for people that are suffering from various conditions or the generalized population, but it’s getting them the adherence to a plan to be able to go forward. Because sometimes they don’t have that motivation, or whatever the motivation was, is now gone. Their identity as someone that had a high powered job, they suffered from chronic fatigue, they now have that job anymore, right? They’re lost whether they whatever they can do, it’s about finding that purpose, but finding that drive to kind of keep going, to optimize to be able to adhere to the right behaviors, to kind of go forward. So that’s where I see the big differences between the two, right? 

Question (Mohit): So the athletes are driven by precision, sort of like driven by those last minute changes. And when it comes to people in disease and pain, it’s largely about the environment and what they’re chasing and the awareness of that to some extent. It’s not about finding what the real problem is, but instead helping them become consistent. Because for them, even small changes would actually compound to become like large health outcomes. So before we conclude and this has been a great learning experience for me as well, before I stepped into this podcast, somebody asked me and I was speaking to a friend and the friend wasn’t aware of the HRV space and the friend actually asked me that. “Why in this entire world would you actually track HRV out of everything else? You have so many things to do in life.” So I have few answers, but I’m sure that I wouldn’t have an answer that will be as compelling and as interesting as what you would have. So I would love to hear your version.

Answer (Greg): Yeah, it’s funny, as I do this more and more about tracking HRV with people, is that it’s for a specific person, right? Some people, like my wife, for instance, just wouldn’t do it. It’s not motivating to her. She doesn’t necessarily want the information. She wants more about how her body feels and things like that. So it takes the right type of person to be able to kind of get in the space of heart rate variability. But if you’re in that space of wanting to be able to be effective, be efficient, be able to perform at the highest level possible, making sure that you’re doing everything to live a healthier, better life, right? And you have your interest in being able to do that, you’re spending time of looking at how do I, am I on the right food? Am I doing the right things with friends, am I doing that type of stuff? I find it that to be to the right person. So why? Why would you want to be able to monitor HRV? To me, is to look at effectiveness. Because, again, like I said, we’re all busy, we could all eat better, we can all do these things. But to be able to figure out what are the biggest impacts of my health and wellbeing, that would make that I should spend time doing comparatively to others, right? Sometimes I see people that are just hyperfocused on their sleep and I completely understand the value of sleep, but they’re already doing like 93% – 94% of what you’re supposed to be doing already. And they’re so obsessed about how can I get these last couple of things where it’s like, maybe the priority isn’t there for you. Maybe the value is not necessarily focusing on going from a 93 to a 97% of doing everything perfectly when it comes to sleep. But what are the other factors of your health and wellbeing that are possibly limiting what’s going on that can make sure that you live a long, healthy, lasting life. So it’s about, to me, with HRV, why would somebody do it? Is to put your focus on specific areas that improve your health and wellbeing.

(Mohit):  That is a fascinating aspect. Why should you live well? And I would love to add to it that why should you explore like, why go to Mars, why go to the Moon? There’s no need. But it’s how humans are built, potentially, right? And I think this has been a fantastic journey in terms of understanding more about such an interesting biomarker and of course, through this platform and otherwise as well we would love to figure out ways to partner and bring science space. This is probably one of the most interesting phases of human health, where engineers, sports, scientists, doctors and general people who also call themselves biohackers are actually trying to figure out what is the future of human health. And I really respect and appreciate you, Greg, for actually bringing science into the space and for moving the space forward. So also appreciate you for making time here and I really had a great chat and thank you for making it here. I look forward to seeing you more.

(Greg):  Yeah, what you guys are doing is pushing the boundaries and that’s exactly what we need to be able to do. So you guys keep going, doing what you’re doing, pushing the space, pushing the limits, and it’s only going to make the biohacker, but the health and, wellbeing, space, that much better. So thank you guys for keeping up the great work. 

(Mohit): And with that, we close off the discussions and conversations on HRV. I hope, over the last few episodes you gained a fundamental sense of what HRV is and what’s the impact of the biomarker on your own health. If you liked this episode, please rate and review us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, your responses and feedback inspires us to bring better and harder hitting content. We’re not too far away before the first season of the Ultrahuman Podcast ends, but we do have a few exciting guests lined up for you to listen to. So please stay tuned and be subscribed to us by hitting that follow button

on the streaming platform you’re currently on. I’ll see you soon with the next one.

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