Impact of Stress on HRV, Resting Heart Rate & Recovery

Illustration of the impact of stress on an individual

We break down the effects of stress on heart rate and other key WHOOP metrics.

Stress is something that we all deal with on a regular basis. Among other things, short-term effects of stress may include headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, moodiness, muscle tension, insomnia, and an inability to focus. In the long term, stress can lead to anxiety disorders and mental health issues, high blood pressure, heart attacks, risk of heart disease, obesity, eating disorders, digestive problems, unhealthy skin, hair loss, and a variety of other significant health concerns.

These are just a few of the many potential consequences of feeling overly stressed. And while the symptoms of stress have been extensively researched, the day-to-day impact of it on our mental and physical well-being is difficult to quantify.

STRESS AND RESTING HEART RATE

Overall, 60% of the time our members input experiencing stress it results in an increase in resting heart rate (not good). The average (50th percentile of all cases) is an uptick of 1 beat per minute (bpm). Considering the fact that RHR is generally a fairly stable metric, this is a sizable deviation from the norm. At the 25th percentile, the rise is 2 heart beats per minute.

Males and females see similar changes in resting heart rate due to stress, as do most age groups. However, it is worth noting that the frequency with which RHR is negatively impacted increases subtly with age. For 29 and under it happens on 58% of occasions, for ages 30-49 it’s 60%, and for 50-59 it’s 64% of the time.

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