BY KITT WALSH
Ah for the days of when our approaching “golden years” meant a time of rest and relaxing, rocking on the porch and dangling grandchildren on our knees. Now we are more likely to be found running a company, running a marathon or running after those selfsame grandkids—with “running” being the operative word—and stress being the result.
Stress, as we all know, can shred our hearts with surges of adrenaline activated by our fight or flight instinct, but while FitBit can track our steps and Apple Watch can help us properly train our bodies, until now, making use of technology to help us achieve tranquility was reduced to YouTube yoga classes and online chanting sessions.
Introducing the Sona Connected Bracelet (by Caeden) which syncs to an app via Bluetooth® to actually help you get rid of stress. Here’s the science behind the stylish bracelet:
The Caeden app tracks Active Time, a more meaningful measurement of your daily activity based on your personal heart rate zones. Sona also tracks your daily heart rate variability (HRV) as well as resting heart rate, calories, steps and distance. The Heart Rate Variablity measurement is 10 times more accurate than just your heart rate. HRV is the time lapse between two heartbeats, whereas the standard heart rate is the total number of pulsations done during one minute. The heart rate variation means that we produce different numbers of pulsations each minute. When we are walking, our heart beats slower than when we are running, which is totally different from HRV.
When we are under a lot of stress (like meeting with our accountants or making an impossible deadline) our heart rate skyrockets, producing more beats per minute, but our heart rate variability tends to be very low because the duration between all pulsations tend to be exactly the same despite the stress with very little variation of the elapsed time between heartbeats. Actually, when we are relaxed, with our heart rate normal, between 60 to 100 beats a minute for most adults, our HRV score will be higher, because the durations between heartbeats tend to be different in that state. Sona accounts for this.
The next step in the program is the use of a science-based breathing mediation called Resonance which was developed for cosmonauts, submarine operators, fighter pilots, and others working in extreme environments to help them deal with their very stressful duties. In the 1990’s, research was expanded to Olympic wrestlers, and Resonance training was proven to have a significant positive effect on reflexes and muscle relaxation in those athletes. From 1968 onward, these studies were lead by Evgeny Vaschillo, who has worked closely with Caeden to develop the Resonance program used with the Sona bracelet. You can learn to meditate with the five breathing technique included free in the app: Rise, Boost, Breathe, Relax, and Rest. Each geared to different times of the day and situation in which you find yourself. A soothing voice and restful sounds (like crashing waves) guides you through each meditation.
“Users can start their day with a moment of Zen, find calm and focus before a big meeting, and come down from a workout with concentrated breathing. The program, when used regularly, is meant to ‘build up’ the user’s resistance to stress,” says Caeden co-founder Nora Levinson.
Resonance as a paced mediation makes use of the fact that when we slow our breathing down, everything else in our body slows down as well, helping us to build and train resilience to mental and physical stress in our internal systems. Decades of studies have shown that Resonance has been effective in improving focus, calming anxiety, and reducing reaction time in athletes.
Understanding our physiology helps. Our Autonomic Nervous System has two branches: the stress response (Sympathetic) and the calm response (Parasympathetic). These two sides are in a constant tug-of-war to control all of our subconscious body functions and determine how we instinctively respond to different situations. A strong stress response is healthy and keeps us focused in key moments, but only if activated sparingly. Chronic stress dulls our engagement with everyday life, and our ability to respond more quickly when we really need to do so. Resonance works with our cardiovascular and nervous system patterns to train and strengthen the Parasympathetic response, helping us fight against chronic stress and restore imbalance to our system. It turns down the volume on that fight or flight reaction we have carried around for decades through busy careers, packed lives and always-stressful child rearing.
Sona’s sophisticated pulse tracker also does more than other fitness trackers, which track only steps, whether walking or running. It tracks instead our body’s response to our activities, no matter what we are doing. The system even determines what 30-minute daily exercise window makes the most sense based on our heart rate readings.
Sona was developed with those busiest of people in mind—New Yorkers (with both co-founders themselves residents of The Big Apple) “It’s designed to be a break from the fast-paced city life,” said David Watkins, the other co-founder.
Fitness and weight loss are big pieces of the wellness puzzle but not the entire trouble. As Levinson states, “A big health problem for people is stress,” Levinson says. “So we designed something to target and solve that problem.”
The Sona bracelet sells for $199. The bracelet comes in two sizes, several band colors and rose gold, gold or gunmetal finish, and each bracelet comes with a charging dock. For more information, visit www.caeden.com/sona.