April 27, 2018

April is National Stress Awareness Month, so we’d like to share some helpful ways to use activity to combat the stress in your life. To understand how activity and stress are impacting the lives of Motiv Ring users, we have decided to take a look under the hood at some of our user data to understand which behaviors are contributing most to decreases in stress and which are having a negative impact.

Staying active will help you manage stress

We decided to take a look at the Daytime Resting Heart Rate (DRHR) and Nighttime Resting Heart Rate (NRHR) of our users as a proxy for understanding the level of stress they have been experiencing and how it is affected by their activity. When you are experiencing distress, your brain sends signals to your heart to beat faster to prepare you to deal with a potential threat, affecting your resting heart rate. So lower resting heart rate values generally mean that your body is not feeling as affected by a stress.

The first thing we found may seem obvious to some of you, but those users who had racked up a lot of Active Minutes had better resting heart rate values. Exercise is a key part of maintaining a healthy daily resting heart rate and resting heart rate, so finding ways to maintain a healthy practice is a great way to manage the stress in your life.

Not all activity is created equal

While activity is a factor in improving your DRHR and NRHR, it appeared that some activities had a more positive effect than others. In looking at our data, we saw that users who were using running, yoga, and bootcamp classes as a way to get in their Active Minutes had lower resting heart rates than activities like walking or biking.

This data point is important to understand if you’re trying to manage your stress, or simply develop a well rounded exercise routine. Boot camp classes, while sometimes intense, incorporate some of the most important types of exercise into one session that can improve your overall health. Similarly, yoga incorporates several different types of exercise into one practice, while also incorporating meditative techniques, and has been proven to lower stress.

Timing could be everything

There are a lot of people who love to work out first thing in the day. But as it turns out, working out later in the day, particularly in the late afternoon, may have greater benefits in managing your stress and improving your performance.

We looked at the DRHR and NRHR of our users and found a correlation between lower resting heart rate values and working out later in the day. This makes sense because, as science shows, your exercise might be more effective and less stressful on your body later in the day. This is because your body’s core temperature increases throughout the day, making your muscles less stiff and making your body able to achieve greater strength and endurance, which can make your workouts more effective.

That’s not to say that a morning workout is not beneficial in managing stress or improving your overall health. One of the key elements in improving your DRHR and NRHR is consistency. Our data also showed that it was more important to make sure you get Active Minutes than necessarily get them at specific times of day.

So if it’s easier for you to incorporate exercise into your morning routine, don’t feel like you have to make a major change just to optimize your activity. You will still be realizing some great benefits to your stress management if you are making sure you get your Active Minutes.

Take it easy
It’s a fact: you can get too much of a good thing. Working out too much or too hard is called ‘overtraining’, and it can cause everything from muscle fatigue, to injury, and even mood disturbances. Some people even take this to such an extreme that they can end up developing an exercise addiction.

In studying our user data, we found that users engaging in prolonged running or yoga sessions actually increased their daily resting heart rate and resting heart rate values when compared to people who maintained more moderate practices.

If you’re looking to build or maintain a healthy exercise practice to manage your stress, it’s important to make sure that you are not putting too much stress on your body and that you are giving yourself enough time to cool down as well. Your body will give you warnings that you are starting to overdo it, so if you are noticing negative shifts in your mood or you are feeling constantly fatigued, try giving yourself a break for a day or two.

Managing stress is an important part of keeping yourself healthy. It’s been proven that stress can have all kinds of negative impacts on your health, from minor symptoms like headaches and muscle fatigue, to more serious issues like depression, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and fertility problems.

If you are noticing in the Motiv App that your resting heart rate has been elevated, try shaking up your routine to make sure you are getting the right amount and kinds of exercise to support your mind and body health.

What other insights would you like to see from our data team? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.