Habits & Health episode 92 with Dr Jay Wiles, an expert in HRV. we discuss what is HRV, how it can help you, what is resonance breathing and biofeedback, and how stress can help you.
Dr. Jay Wiles is an international speaker, scientist, clinician, influencer, and subject-matter expert and authority on the interconnection between the human stress response and health performance/optimization. Dr. Wiles is a clinical health and performance psychologist with board certification in heart rate variability biofeedback and peripheral biofeedback and works as a leading consultant in psychophysiology to health influencers, professional athletes and teams, executives, and high performers. He is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Hanu Health. He has pioneered new and innovative means of using heart rate variability (HRV) and respiratory training as both diagnostic indicators of the dynamic nature of the human stress response, alongside therapeutic tools for regulating and conditioning this response for peak human performance. Dr. Wiles has an extensive history of working with top-performing athletes in the PGA, LPGA, MLS, MLB, ATP, and WTA. His consulting firm, Thrive Wellness and Performance, has held contracts with leading biotechnology and health technology organisations where he has engaged in research, development of therapeutics, and development of behavioural retention programs. Dr. Wiles has operated as the co-host of the Ben Greenfield Podcast since 2019 and hosts the Hanu Health Podcast.
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[00:00:00] Tony Winyard: Habits and health episode 92.
[00:00:15] Tony Winyard: Welcome back to another edition of habits and health. My guest today, Dr. Jay Wiles, who is an international speaker, scientist, clinician, influencer and subject matter expert and authority on the connection between the human stress response and health performance and optimization.
He’s well-known in the world of HRV, which is heart rate variability. And we discuss what that is. Performance psychology, and many other areas in today’s episode, he’s also the founder and chief scientific officer of Hanu health. So we find out what is Hanu health? What they are doing for heart rate variability. And we talk about fitness wearables, and that whole sort of technology aspect
So that’s this week’s episode. Hope you enjoy it. Please do share the episode. With anyone who’s really wanting to know more about what is HRV
Habits and health. My guest today is Dr. Jay Wiles. How are you, Jay?
[00:01:17] Dr Jay Wiles: I’m doing well, Tony. Thanks for having me, man.
[00:01:19] Tony Winyard: And where you were saying you we’re in North Carolina today.
[00:01:22] Dr Jay Wiles: South Carolina. Yeah. Yeah. So just a little bit further south. The,the neighbor to North Carolina, The, probably a little bit more enhanced southern culture, like we, as we like to say, North Carolina, they’ve lost their ways, They’ve lost their southern culture. we still have it here in South Carolina,
[00:01:38] Tony Winyard: and it, Are you a native from there?
I am, I didn’t live here for probably close to 10 years. We lived up in like Northern Virginia for a while. simply because I was there for schooling and residency fellowship. and then we moved back, actually when I, when we had our first kid, because family was here for my wife and I, and it just made sense to have that built in babysitter.
[00:01:57] Dr Jay Wiles: And we just, we’re a very relational, communal family. We love being together, and I, it was just the right time. and so for me it was a great call to move back and now we have two boys who love being near their grandparents.
[00:02:09] Tony Winyard: We were speaking before we started recording and you mentioned You’re a football fan of like English football.
[00:02:13] Dr Jay Wiles: That’s right. Yes. Yes. There’s not as many of us here in America. However, I will say that I’ve seen it massively growing. So the MLS or the Major League Soccer league that we do have, it used to be like basically nobody watched it like it was everybody came here to retire and it’s still the same way you get, a lot of like top.
Guys who played in the EPL or in the Spanish League or in the, Italian League and they would come and finish their career in the mls. That still happens, but we’ve seen of a heightened I don’t know, it’s almost just like heightened interest in soccer and here in the us, which is really fun.
And so I’m not too far from Atlanta, and Atlanta United has a ginormous fan follow. For their MLS team. Had a few rough years, but,it’s been fun. But yeah, I keep, very much in, I would in the know when it comes to the epl, which is, yeah, it’s a fun thing to follow here.
[00:03:04] Tony Winyard: Cool. you are known as a bit of a sort of like world expert on HRV. Iyou are pretty knowledgeable on HRV, aren’t you?.
[00:03:12] How Jay got into HRV
it was something that I just fell into, almost because like I just pursued my interest and my passion and it just happened. Like I didn’t set off, like with the initial goal of I wanna specialize in psychophysiology and be, a kind of a well recognized expert or subject matter expert in heart rate variability in biometrics.
[00:03:31] Dr Jay Wiles: It just didn’t start off that way. I’m a psychologist by trade, so my, doctoral degree is in clinical psychology. I’m licensed as a clinical psychologist. But I just had a fascination with, the inter lap between kind of physical health and mental health and how we can utilize,signs from our physiology to better understand what’s happening neurologically and then vice versa, because we know it’s a bidirectional street.
but yeah, I just fell into it. It was just like this crazy set of events. honestly, to be just completely frank with you, Tony, it just was, I continued searching and studying and practicing something that I found just absolutely fascinating. It was completely like selfish reasons.
[00:04:10] Dr Jay Wiles: Like I saw that it was very effective for people, but I was just fascinated with it. And I think that’s how a lot of people build businesses. Kinda that’s why I built this business, is you just get so fascinated, and enmeshed with the topic area. You’re like, I’ve gotta do more with this , which is what happened.
[00:04:28] Tony Winyard: So anyone listening who maybe isn’t familiar with what is heart rate variability? So why would you say maybe people should pay more attention to it and what is it?
[00:04:39] What is HRV?
[00:04:39] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, the metric is one that is still quite misunderstood. There’s a lot of myths, around it, and that can be problematic because HRV has become so ubiquitous. it is something that is found in almost every single wearable. It doesn’t matter if you get an Oura or a Whoop or Apple Watch or a FitBit, Garmin.
They all have some mechanism of tracking heart rate variability and then providing people with that data. And if people do not have a good understanding of what heart rate variability is, it’s really confusing. And it is a metric that it’s a proxy for stress, and I’ll impact that here in a second. But that number in and of itself, if people don’t have a good grasp on it, it can induce a lot of stress in and of itself.
And that’s because so many people will, compare their numbers. And we’ll talk about why that’s important not to do and why people should avoid comparing their HRV with other people. But the big concept here is they do that. They see somebody post, their picture of their Oura score with their HRV and it’s at 140 and theirs is at 20.
And they think is, Am I gonna die? is something like actually gonna happen to me here to where I, just end up like falling over from a heart attack? It’s the question that people always provide me, Tony,they say I’ve looked at these numbers and I just don’t know what, I can’t make heads or tails of it.
Is this good? Is this bad? And probably the most frequent question that I’ve gotten via email, whether it’s, my Hanu email or my prior consulting firm that I ran, was like, it was either a question or it was phrased of what do I do about my low HRV? Or is my HRV low? Or is this like concerning?
So for me, I think one of the biggest components of what I do is I provide some education on dispelling some of the myths around HRV because what we don’t want to have happen, is this proxy for nervous system functioning and stress cause people or instill more stress. So with that, I’ll now jump into the definition.
So heart rate variability, HRV, there’s kind of two ways of defining it. HRV is a set of metrics. So a lot of people think of it as a singular metric, but it’s actually a set of metrics. A lot of the times people are only fed one singular metric. but it’s actually a wide array of metrics that we can utilize.
And I’ll talk more about that. But when we think about variability of the heart rate, it sounds a little bit odd because we may have, think of something like arrhythmia or something that’s without rhythm, but what we’re actually looking at is we’re looking at variants that occurs in between successive heartbeats.
And the reason being is because, at rest when someone is relaxed, the heart should not act like a metronome. It should not pace itself. And there’s a few reasons for that. The reason that, that it’s not a good thing is because when we are breathing at a normal rate or when we’re breathing at really at any rate, honestly, we should see a fluctuations or variance of the heart rate because as you inhale, your heart rate should speed up, and the reason that should happen, Is because upon inhalation, you’re taking in oxygen and now it’s time to deliver oxygen.
So your heart will want to beat faster and in order to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all of your vital organs and all throughout your body, So as you inhale, and oxygen is present, we want to increase the heart rate. There’s also structural changes that happen as well. So as you inhale and your lungs expand, the actual concave of your chest causes your heart to tighten and actually become smaller, and so therefore it doesn’t have as much room to contract and expand and therefore will beat faster.
So at exhale on the other ends, what we see is we see a significant reduction in heartrate. So speed up on inhale and significant reduction on the exhale, that’s actually mediated by our 10th cranial nerve, which is called our vagus nerve. and that is a slowing down, and the reason that happens is because now that we have sufficiently delivered oxygen, hopefully as long as there’s no breathing or respiratory related issues, then we should see that we don’t want to continue to speed the heart up because there’s not as much to deliver there.
So we see that really slow down of the heart rate. So we call that a Peak to Trough difference or Peak to Trough Ratio, which is a low heart rate at the start, high heart rate upon inhalation and then low heart rate upon exhalation. Now, what happens during that time is that the amount of time between heartbeats is gonna change really significantly.
It’s gonna vary. So as you inhale in heart rate increases, we actually see the space between heartbeats or the time between heartbeats are gonna shrink and then as you exhale, they’re going to widen up. And that across that cycle, that’s a lot of variance. The time is varied significantly. That is natural. That’s what’s supposed to occur.
We call that, a phenomena, respiratory sinus arrhythmia. We all have arrhythmia during every single breath. And it can be confusing because a lot of people, when they think of arrhythmia, which is without rhythm, they think atrial fibrillation or AFib, that’s not a great thing that has happened. That is a problem with the electrical conductivity of the heart, which causes significant disarray and HRV actually for people with AFib, can be in the 500, 600, 700 milliseconds.
because there’s so much irregularity and that actually, could be a cause for stroke and heart attack, that’s not a good form of arrhythmia, but the natural form of arrhythmia or respiratory sinus arrhythmia, it occurs during every single breath cycle. So that’s naturally what’s occurring. But what happens when you’re stressed?
when you’re stressed and heart rate goes up and stays up, the amount of variance that occurs between successive heartbeats is going to go down. So HRV is going to go down. So what is that signalling? That’s actually serving as a direct proxy to the changes that are occurring in the moment of the nervous system.
[00:10:20] Dr Jay Wiles: In other words, when we see someone stressed or someone’s nervous system taxed, we know that the changes across the respiratory cycle of heart rate are going to diminish. They’re gonna go down. We also know. That as kind of blood pressure changes and as the vagus nerve is not being as stimulated, we’re going to see HRV begin to decrease.
So when you know your baseline numbers of heart rate variability, you know where you normally stand within certain conditions and contextes, and you see a reduction in heart rate variability from that number. What that number is actually representing or telling you is that your nervous system is being taxed by some form of stressors.
Impacting your nervous system. That can be physiological or that can be psychological. So physiologically, if you got up right now and you sprinted, a hundred meters and then sprinted back a hundred meters, heart rate would go up significantly and HRV would go down. What does that mean?
[00:11:14] Dr Jay Wiles: Your body’s being significantly taxed during that time. But what if you’re sitting down like you and I Tony, or you’re at your desk, doing some work, and all of a sudden heart rate is way above baseline and HRV is tanking way below baseline. oh. We may have some psychological stress that’s really impacting your sense of wellbeing and performance.
sorry, I know that was a bit longwinded, but hopefully that encapsulated what you were looking for in terms of the definition of HRV.
[00:11:40] Tony Winyard: I think that’s a pretty good definition for people to understand.
You were just talking about stress and the stress response and how HRV helps us to maybe to know when we are more stressed, and stress is really demonized, isn’t it? Many people think of stress as a really bad thing, so what would you say about that?
[00:12:00] Is stress demonised?
it’s a wonderful point to make. I think that unfortunately, it has indeed become demonized. It has become demonized because people equate stress with the negative effects that stress can have on the body. And that is true, so I don’t want to just throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I think what has happened is we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
[00:12:20] Dr Jay Wiles: It is not the experience of stress, especially the acute experience of stress that causes the mass deleterious effects on the mind and on the body. It is the repeated exposures of stress. If we think about what stress is inherently. It’s actually a good thing because stress serves as a warning sign.
It is a mechanism to tell you that you are at threat. Something is, potentially going to harm you if you continue to stay within this circumstance. if you’re in, this situation, there is the potential that something could inevitably harm you. So stress signals as a warning sign to help your body get ready to mobilize as much possible energy for you to either fight what’s in front of you, to flee what’s in front of you.
Or the other thing that happens is some people just they lock down, they freeze. So I like to say that stress is your best friend because it will save your life. Stress will also help you to perform better in, performance and sports psychology we have a concept known as the The Yerkes-Dodson law, Yerkes Dodson are the individuals who created this model, and they indicated that there are certain levels of stress that, impact performance for better or for worse.
So we know that kind of in this inverse curve. inverse U is that, when people have a low level of stimulation, performance typically is pretty low, but as stimulation or stress is increased to a certain extent, then it actually helps us to perform better. But there is the other side of the curve.
When stress gets a little bit too overwhelming, we see performance begin to drop off. So it’s that inverted U and that Yerkes-Dodson law. So we can see very visibly how stress can be significantly positively impactful. What most people think about when they think about stress being bad, they think about the accumulation of stress.
They think about as stress begins to compact and compound because we’re not dealing with this stress very effectively, and that has to do with either a lack of self-awareness or really poor self-regulation skills. So I like to always conceptualize stress that way, as to say that it’s not the acute experience of stress. That is inevitable, that is a part of life that is there to save you. That is a warning sign that is inherently good. It is inherently helpful. And I know it sounds funny from a psychologist’s perspective, me saying stress is good, but it actually is a good thing. It is the repeated experience of stress. That we do not regulate. That is the problem.
It is going to work repeatedly and experiencing the same events over and over again, and then allowing it to impact us to make the choice or decision that this is something that is causing us pain and causing us suffering. It is those repeated experiences day in, day out, week in, week out, month after month, decade after decade.
It’s the compounding that causes people to implode or explode because they have no way of regulating it, or they’re really unaware of kind of the impact that’s having on them. And so that’s what I think about when I think about the stress that is the bad stress, versus the good stress, or in psychological terms, we use the word, distress for the bad stress and the Eustress for the stress that we know can help increase, performance.
[00:15:33] Some stress is good, and even necessary…
[00:15:33] Tony Winyard: Isn’t it the case that, people think of stress as bad, but if we are not getting any, as you mentioned about the eutress or hormetic stress, that’s actually bad for us if we’re not stressing ourselves in some way, that leads to all kinds of conditions?
[00:15:46] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, so one of the really interesting things that we’ve seen in the literature, so for using, let’s say, heart rate variability as an example, because we know that’s a great proxy for somebody’s stress response and how well they’re adapting or maybe not adapting. One of the things that comes up over and over again is that we see people that have clinical depression.
So someone who is diagnosed with major depressive disorder, their body will actually manifest. In an extremely low heart rate, and also with extremely high heart rate variability. And if you just looked at their biometrics on paper, you would say, Oh man, that’s a high performer. Look at them. Low heart rate.
that’s somebody who is, got a really high HR V, that’s good stuff. What we’re actually seeing is a parasympathetic nervous system that is overly activated because this person has no drive or motivation to do anything they’re depressed. All they can do is sit around, lie in bed. There’s no need to mobilize energy.
[00:16:39] Dr Jay Wiles: You’re not doing anything because you’re depressed. So again, that’s why I say that they’re always, context is key. Like when we think about stress, when we think about mental health, when we think about biometrics, context is key. Because on paper they would look a certain way that if you posted their numbers on Instagram, they’d be like, Look at that.
That must be like the top health and wellness, influencer, professional athlete, like the guru who’s got it all down, when actually this person’s pretty significantly depressed. So I think again, like putting everything into context is really key and understanding what it means within that circumstance context as well.
It makes all the difference in the world.
[00:17:15] What is different about the Hanu device from other devices which track HRV?
you mentioned before about some of the other devices like the Oura and the Whoop and Apple Watch and so on. I’ve listened to your podcast and you’ve mentioned about using some of the other devices. When was it you first decided to do something different, like to have some kind of device. We had the Whoop, we had the Oura and the others. Why did you think there was something else needed?
[00:17:35] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah. Yeah. it’s a great question. I think about how I conceptualize health and wellness and how, like at Hanu, how we conceptualize health and wellness. I see it in, in pillars and I know that this is very much an oversimplification of, how we conceptualize health and wellness.
[00:17:51] Strengths of each of the main HRV trackers
[00:17:51] Dr Jay Wiles: But I think for understanding why we started Hanu, and the gap that was there in the market, and then also just in general what people were looking for. it didn’t fill one of my rungs or one of my pillars. So when I think about it and how it compares to the wearables that are currently on the market or the other platforms that are on the market, if you think about the pillars, I think about them in these four.
we have good quality nutrition. We have good quality exercise, we have good quality sleep, and then we also are managing our mental health. And I think, again, you could probably create some other categories there, but I think that you could fit most health and wellness, needs within those domains. So if you think about nutrition, in the wearable space now we have cgm.
[00:18:33] Dr Jay Wiles: So continuous glucose monitors are like the newest wave of looking at the impact that nutrition has on health and wellness and on glycemic variability. So that’s great. They’re there. Then you have exercise, so many players in the game, right? Fitbit, Apple Watch, of course. Whoop, Oura’s now getting into the exercise game, you’ve got so many great ones over there.
So yeah, Igot it covered. The next one that we see here was sleep. Okay, Oura, like the, for me, they are like the number one, you got whoop, you’ve got Apple Watch, you’ve got other Garmin who’s doing sleep staging. that’s phenomenal as well. Mental health, where is the mental health platform?
And that’s where we really wanted to jump in. We said, Okay, whoop and Oura, like they give you HR-V, but that’s really just one metric that’s looking at recovery and it’s really not giving you guidance other than just like saying, Hey, your nervous system’s not recovered. So it doesn’t really close the loop there.
And then from a mental health standpoint, it’s like sometimes they’ll ask you kinda like how you’re doing, but it’s not very explicit. Where I was like, what if we created a device that number one is gonna capture heart rate variability all the time. So we’re gonna see like what is happening on a very microscopic level to your nervous system.
At any given moment, because that can provide us with a lot of insight as to how certain events, certain circumstances, different situations, how are they affecting your nervous system response. And then also we can add in other variables that we are know, that are very well correlated with people’s stress.
[00:19:59] HRV and respiration
[00:19:59] Dr Jay Wiles: Like how fast are they breathing? how fast is their heart rate? What’s changing in regards to the fluctuations of heart rate? So where we really saw a gap Tony, was in the wearable space if you will, that is heart rate variability is able to be captured on all of these other devices, but it’s only when you’re in certain very, um, distinct circumstances. for instance, most of these are only capturing it at night when you’re.
Basically, for all intents and purposes, when you’re a corpse, you’re not moving, your body is as still as it possibly can be. And the reason being, that the reason they’re not capturing it throughout the day is because these light sensing technologies, which we call PPG or PhotoPlus, they’re very sensitive to movement, to artifact, to noise to light.
And the reason that’s the case is because they’re indirectly looking at heart rate. So the light is shining through the. And what it’s doing is it’s picking up a pulse. So basically, the way it works is that when it sees, the blood pulse come through, so it’s a shunt of blood coming through the light refracts, and you can tell that’s a pulse.
Now the one thing it’s really good at is approximating heart rate. So if you turn up the sampling rate of these devices, we can approximate heart rate pretty well. But if you remember, heart rate variability is looking at the distinct time between heartbeats and we’re talking about matters of milliseconds.
So if we are off by any appreciable amount of milliseconds in terms of accuracy, then that data is junk. It goes out the window. So how do we solve for that issue? We go directly to the heart signal. We don’t look indirectly, we look directly at it through an ekg. Now, previously EKGs were extremely expensive.
they were very cumbersome. There had to be leads all over you. But now we have technology to where you can take a strap like we use, which is the polar H 10. You throw it on, you throw it off, and you have accurate data guaranteed under every single condition. It’s great that tech has advanced in that way.
[00:21:57] Chest straps vs wrist
[00:21:57] Dr Jay Wiles: Some point we’ll probably be able to get advanced HR V from the wrist. We’re not there. Hanu, we worked on that. We put a lot of time and money and effort into doing that. And in the end, like we could get it close at times, but we couldn’t get it under every condition. And for us, we were like, we want to be able to provide this under every condition for our users because we want them to have that high level of valuable feedback.
once again, Tony, I’ve gone into a long, elongated story here, but I thought maybe the context would be, helpful for people.
[00:22:26] Tony Winyard: As you were talking and I noticed that you were wearing the whoop and the Oura at the same
[00:22:31] Dr Jay Wiles: And Garmin. I got my,
[00:22:33] Tony Winyard: you gotta go as
[00:22:34] Dr Jay Wiles: well.
and actually what you were saying, cuz I, I had a whoop for about a year or so and I noticed there was quite a difference in the reading whether I wore it on my wrist or if I wore it on my bicep. It made quite a difference in the readings.
[00:22:46] Dr Jay Wiles: So if you want an explanation, I can give that to you. the reason being is because, of two things, when you have it on your wrist, it is a lot more prone to artifact. The biggest killer, to wrist based wearables is this right here
Or on the phone, cuz if you put your finger right there, you can feel all those bones moving through there.
And what does the device sometimes pick up on? Oh, they think that’s a heartbeat. That looks like a pulse. It’s moving. It looks like it’s passing through. You throw it on your bicep and you get a lot less of that artifact. So what we’ve actually done studies with, so we’ve thrown these devices on the arm and when you’re at a resting condition, so let’s say I’m, even if I’m typing on a computer, but if I’m sitting here, unless I’m, flailing my arms, I can.
A decent signal. It’s not great. It’s not like an ekg, but, yeah, it’s, there’s a significant difference between the wrist and the arm. and we see it almost like under every single condition. We say if like people are using a device like whoop or you can’t do a or is on the fingers, so you can’t do it.
you’re gonna be best off if you want the most accurate reading for that device, throwing it on the bicep, especially if you’re working out. But yeah, it’s, it can be a little bit tricky. Oura is having its challenges right now because, they released,their newest software and their newest device, like the version three, where it’s supposed to give you heart rate during all conditions.
both when working out and at rest. and it’s, again, I hope I don’t get sued by Oura saying this. I’m just telling you the data that I see,it’s insanely off. it’s very inflated because of the amount of time that I’m typing or I’m using my phone or I’m, talking with my hands, which I do frequently.
it just, it goes out the window, whereas the EKG. It can have artifact that occurs, but the ability to catch it and remove the artifact is so much easier because we’re looking at direct signal. We can tell what is the direct signal of the heart and what is noise very easily. So when you put it on, even if you’re sprinting as fast as you can down the road, we’re gonna know.
[00:24:42] Patrick McKeown – author of The Oxygen Advantage
And you talked about when you were describing, the gap in the market and why Hanu started, and you mentioned breathing, and I know that, Patrick McKeown has got some sort of involvement in Hanu. So did you deliberately, did you want his, that kind of expertise? Did you reach out to him?
how did that all come about?
[00:24:58] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah. Yeah. So Patrick and I have known each other for quite some time now. I helped out on one of his previous books, wrote, some information regarding heart rate variability. I probably have it. Yeah, it’s sitting back up over on my left shoulder, the Breathing Cure. so there’s like a whole chapter that, he and I collaborated and worked on together.
So basically when we started Hanu, we had done some podcasts together, Patrick and I, and cuz there’s so much overlap between what I do and what he does. Basically I just take a lot of his skills and practices and a lot of his training and I incorporate it into utilizing or leveraging technology.
As a mechanism for feedback. Ithat’s why it’s called biofeedback. So biofeedback is simply, utilizing breathwork practices. So changing the biomechanics, cadence and biochemistry of breathing, but being able to see in real time the changes in your physiology that are occurring as a result of you manipulating or changing your breathing patterns.
So a lot of what I do is overlapped. I just add like the tech component onto there. I always say, Biofeedback is essentially like a tech savvy way of doing breathwork. that’s, it is what it is. But the great thing about it is that when people do biofeedback, they do the breathwork practice and they feel subjectively great as what most people do when they do a breathing practice, but they objectively see the data change.
So they say, Oh man, my heart rate variability started off at, a 15 and by the end of this session it was a 30, So I had a 100. Increase in heart rate variability, which is not uncommon for people who do biofeedback and breathwork practices. For us, it’s really easy to come back and condition a response that way if we continuously see the objective feedback in real time.
I drone on about that. But a little bit more about Patrick is that he is definitely involved in this. So we have say for instances bolt score built right into our app in our assessment section, which is a assessment of functional breathing. It’s basically like more or less a CO2 tolerance test that, we have built in.
Patrick is also advising us on a lot of the other things that we are, that are coming now to Hanu, which are gonna be a lot more of oxygen advantage focused practices and guidance, which I think will be a phenomenal incorporation to our app. We’ve been working on that for quite some time as well. So yeah, Patrick is, again, a close friend.
[00:27:06] Dr Jay Wiles: We do the podcast together. so he co-hosts a q and a podcast with me. and, he is a masterful individual at what he does. He’s an extremely intelligent, kind-hearted giving individual. and I just love, his heart for helping people with, breathing difficulties.
[00:27:21] Tony Winyard: And because you talked about the differences between the different apps and where they’re strong and so on, I know Whoop it gives you some sort of information about your respiratory rate. But this is really gonna set Hanu apart, isn’t it? About the whole kind of emphasis that you’re gonna have on the breathing side of things.
[00:27:36] Stress and mental health focus for Hanu
[00:27:36] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s two components, that are gonna be extremely differential. I would say that the big component is that, whoops, main category, an individual that they’re approaching is going to be the one in the health and wellness space that is more like engaged in exercise and recovery from exercise, whereas ours is much more stress and mental health focused.
I would say that there’s two components here that I could really highlight. One would be yes, the effect of utilizing breathwork as a self regulation practice. That is absolutely a key component. it is built into the exercise regimen that we include. So that’s key component number one. Key component number two.
Is that we are about to release algorithms that are, insanely accurate in being able to detect respiratory rates, so how fast you’re breathing at any given moment under any given circumstance or condition. What we can then use that data for is inform people of how their breathing patterns, the rapidity, or how fast they’re breathing or how slow they’re breathing, how does that affect metrics related to stress?
On another layer because we may see, oh my goodness, like I can tell why your HRV plummeted by 50% in the last 10 minutes. Like you went from breathing at a rate of 12 breaths per minute to 16 or 17. look at the correlation here. Being able to provide insight does a couple things
[00:28:56] Dr Jay Wiles: tony, number one, It helps people to become more aware and think about it. They think, Oh goodness, I need to conscientiously throughout my day, focus and place an emphasis on slowing my breathing down, because if I don’t, and my breath gets really high, I breathe shallow through the chest. look at what happens to my stress response.
Like it really takes a hit, like it really is impacted. Making those connections are incredibly valuable and the insight that we are looking to provide at Hanu is to be able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, inform you of when your nervous system is really shocked and feeling really taxed, help you to then. Identify what were the things that were happening in that moment that may have caused it? What are the trends? Is this something reoccurring? is it your commute at 5.30 in the afternoon every day that really gets to you and breaks your nervous system down and then always pair it with some form of self-regulation?
And this is behavioral psychology 1 0 1 is the idea that if you have an event that is causing you to, be stressed or to be anxious, then pairing it with something that exacerbates the anxiety, rapid breathing, cognitive spiraling. Those are things that are going to sustain that behavior and it’s gonna get worse, and then it’s gonna get more frequent and more dense.
The duration’s gonna be longer, but what if we come in and instead replace it with a competing behavior that we know is effective in optimizing health, like pacing your breathing. Well, eventually over time, we become our own mechanism for biofeedback in the sense that we are more aware of it happening,
sooner, faster. and then we have in a more effective strategy of reducing the deleterious impact that it has on the mind and on the body because we’re gonna jump straight in to doing a breathing practice. Whereas prior to this experience, we may have cognitively spiraled down. We may have breathed, rapidly, we may have gone and ran in the kitchen and grabbed the Twinkies, or the chips or the donuts, or pastries, whatever it may be.
So the idea is to figure out how can we replace the negative behavior with the behavior that we know is going to be much more adaptive.
[00:31:05] Exercises on the Hanu app
[00:31:05] Tony Winyard: I noticed you’ve got various exercises on the app, such as The pre-meal and post-meal and so on. and I imagine many people who are maybe not so knowledgeable in this whole area gonna be think, why would I wanna do a one minute breathing exercise before I eat or after I eat? or whatever.
[00:31:22] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, it’s a great question. we had on the Hanu Health Podcast, we had, one of our advisors, his name’s Dr. Steven Cabral. He’s a functional medicine practitioner here in the us, has a really great following, runs a clinic called the, Integrative Health, Practitioner Clinic. And we had him on the podcast, we were talking about this concept of digestion. And how people who are in a very stressed state have a lot of problems with digestion. So the one example that we always give is that if you think of what happens physiologically when we are in a stressed state. So when our parasympathetic nervous system is relinquished, or the brake comes off the parasympathetic nervous system, and the gas pedal is pressed on our sympathetic nervous system, which is our fight or flight response, we shut down digestion.
There’s no need to digest because we want to relocate and or allocate blood to other areas and other organs that make much more sense during that time. There’s no reason for you right now to have any blood in your gut because you don’t need to expend that energy digesting. You need it in your heart, you need it in your lungs.
You need it in your brain, so that’s the reason why it shuts down. what happens if you’re eating, you’re stressed and you’re not digesting. Do you think that’s gonna cause some gut related issues? You bet it will absolutely do it. One of the big things that we see, and Steven Cabral talked about this.
Is that when food is sitting in the gut because you’re stressed and you’re not digesting well, it ferments, that food ferments. And then we have this bad disarray of what we call dysbiosis or kind of this influx of bad bacteria that is outweighing all of the good bacteria in the gut. And this can cause things like ibs, it can cause other gastrointestinal dysregulation and problems.
So what we do within our app is we say. The best way to kickstart a meal no matter what, is to do, just a short one to two minute breathing session. We call this our pre-meal breath work that we have in the app. What this is going to allow you to do is take the time to prepare the body for digestion and to get ourselves out of this highly overactive, sympathetic state that you might be in prior to a meal.
Post-meal. We do the same thing. What happens to a lot of people? we scoff down food in a stress state and then we go, we say, Oh, I’ve gotta get to the next thing. and if I, if I don’t like, I’m gonna whatever, get in trouble. So what we tell people is that, okay, now after the meal, we also want you to down regulate the nervous system.
Because what happens is when you eat, you’re gonna have to mobilize energy. So you’re gonna see an increase in heart rate, You’re gonna see a decrease in heart rate variability because you’re chewing, you’re digesting, you’re mobilizing a lot of energy. But what we don’t want to have is this crazy pendulum swing to where your sympathetic nervous system is in way hyper drive, and you’re.
A parasympathetic nervous system is not. So what we have to make sure is that if we feel the sympathetic nervous system starting to creep up, and like more or less outweigh our relaxation response, we do a one other breathwork session to really help to rebalance that, keep the body in a relaxed state so that we can progress and move forward throughout the day without having to worry about these problems that can arise, with digestive related issues if we’re constantly in this sympathetically or stress driven.
[00:34:37] Resonance breathing vs Coherent breathing
[00:34:37] Tony Winyard: And,there’s some, so many exercises on the app are, for resonance, breathing and so on. So how similar or different are they to say what heart math is doing?
[00:34:47] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s one that’s provided a lot. In the world of biofeedback. I won’t say that there’s necessarily camps, but there are. there is language or vernacular, that is used for certain practices that have a lot of overlap. A lot of them is because, from a research perspective, from a marketing perspective, like it’s just easy to coin your own terms.
we utilize the term resonance frequency breathing, or resonance breathing. Now this term has been unfortunately a little bit bastardized. and because a lot of companies have tried to incorporate it or say that they’re using it when in fact they’re not. if you actually look at what resonance frequency breathing is, I was first coined by Dr.
[00:35:28] Dr Jay Wiles: Paul Lair, who sits on our board of advisors at Hanu. so he has been actively involved in everything we do in regards to the trainings and assessment. he and his colleagues out of Rutgers, back, this has been about 40 years, so years ago, they found, oh, about 30 years actually, they found that, human adults, optimally, when we practice biofeedback or breathwork, not naturally, people breathe anywhere from about 12 to 14, sometimes as high as 16 breaths per minute.
But when we’re practicing biofeedback, if we want to optimize heart rate variability and want to decrease, or increase, I should say, our parasympathetic response most effectively, we actually all have a breathing rate that falls between four and a half breaths per minute and six and a half breaths per minute, and we refer to that as a resonant frequency rate.
The reason it’s called resonance frequency is because it is the frequency or pace of breathing that resonates with your nervous system most optimally by raising heart rate variability, increasing respiratory sinus arrhythmia that we talked about earlier, increasing the power of what we call low frequency band and the frequency domains of heart rate variability.
that is what a resonant frequency is. So you can do this assessment on our app where you can find what is your resonant frequency rate. So you can actually go through the steps and you’ll breathe at a rate of six and a half, down to six down to five and a half, five and four and a half, and at the end you get a report card on what of those breathing rates affects heart rate variability the most.
[00:36:53] Dr Jay Wiles: And then we lock that in as your resident frequency rate, and you breathe at that rate when you do the residents practice. Now the question that you had posed is what is it and that’s what it is. And then how is it similar to coherence breathing, which is the term that was coined by heart math.
So heart math refers to coherence as when heart rate and breath rate are in sync with one another. They’re coherent with one another. They follow a linear pattern with one another. We actually assess that when we do the resonant frequency assessment. We look at your level of kind of coherence, the overlap, because you want your heart to follow your breath.
We know that as the heart follows the breath, then that is going to optimize the most, the HR V the most, and it’s also going. Influence a lot of other physiological symptoms like blood pressure management and regulation, stimulation of the vagus nerve and so on. And so coherence breathing is looking primarily at that.
And when they say coherence, a lot of the times heart math will tell you to breathe through your heart, almost like visualize that you’re inhaling and the air is going through the heart as maybe opposed to the lungs. And that helps you basically to center breathing with your heart to help balance out that coherent heart rate, rhythm.
So really that’s what it is. that happens. when people engage in resonance frequency breathing, we just don’t call it coherence. it’s just something that’s termed a little bit differently. But as you can see, there’s a little bit of an overlap. It’s not a competing idea, honestly. it’s a, it’s more of the same if.
[00:38:19] Tony Winyard: Is, your in the instructions, cos I’ve received my Hanu app last week, and so I’ve been wearing the strap for the last week and so on, and I notice it. You mentioned that, for example, not to wear it during sleep. And so are you, is your, do you think that the average user is gonna be wearing it most of the week or just when they’re doing certain things?
Or What is the idea in mind for that?
[00:38:42] Do you need to wear the chest strap all the time?
[00:38:42] Dr Jay Wiles: It has a lot of utility under so many different types of conditions. I think if people want to get the most benefit, they should wear it throughout their working day. I sometimes will just take off on the weekends, just because you can get, it can be a little bit of a data overload if you do it every single day, all day.
again, it’s, that’s a personal preference. sometimes I would say 50% of the time I take it off and don’t utilize it on the weekends and utilize it during my most stressful periods, which is my working day. so I’ll strap mine on. I’m like an ultra power user because, Ithis is my field, this is my device, so you can only expect that I’m gonna use it probably more so than the average individual.
[00:39:15] Dr Jay Wiles: I’m not necessarily recommending you do what I do. but I put mine on at six or so in the morning and then take mine off around six or seven at night. So 12, 13, sometimes 14 hours a day. I’m monitoring it under basically all conditions. Now I think that if people just wanna do it from nine to five, like during their working hours, that can be quite effective as well.
I think consistency is key because what we’re really looking at is where’s your baseline range, and then how do your numbers differ from your baseline range? How much time are you spending below it that day? How much time are you spending above it? And then how much time are you spending within your range?
And one thing that we haven’t mentioned yet, Tony, that I think it’s really important is that a lot of people have this myth that higher HR V is better. It’s not necessarily untrue, but what is more true is that normal HR V is better. It’s very similar to glucose in the sense that the more we’re able to maintain HRV within our baseline range throughout the day, that indicates that we’re adapting well.
If we’re above our baseline, then we’re really relaxed, like we’re adapting super well. And when we dip below our baseline range, oh, like we’re having a hard time adapting, like our nervous system is having a hard time keeping up with the amount of taxation from the stressors that’s being put on it right now.
So again, I think to answer your question, wearing it throughout the working day is really good. I find a ton of value in testing certain things with it. So for instance, the effects of sauna, the effects of cold plunge, the effects of different meditative practices, different technology that people are making claims about, Hey, this affects the nervous system this way.
I like to test it out. Different breath work practices. Obviously I do a lot of biofeedback with it. My other one that I love, this is probably how I use it maybe second most. Is during workouts. I do on our app what’s called a snapshot, and I click the workout button and I actually will watch heart rate throughout my entire workout.
[00:41:07] Using the Hanu for recovery
[00:41:07] Dr Jay Wiles: But the biggest thing that I do, especially if I’m lifting weights, is that a lot of people when they’re lifting weights, they’ll do a set of lifts and then what do they do? And they just get on their phone and they play around, look at social media, whatever it may be. do some.
Do emails. I like to be very proactive during my rest sets. So what I’ll do is I’ll actually work on actively regulating my breathing during rest sets so that I can raise H R V, lower heart rate, because we know that if you’re doing a workout, if you’re not actively working out, you should be recovering.
So in order to increase the intensity of the next set and to recover in between, I incorporate breathwork in between those and we’ll utilize that snapshot app to watch my HR-V go up, to watch my heart rate go down in between a set, to basically reset the nervous system to prepare for going in for another intensive work bout.
So there’s so many different ways to use it. and so I would say for people who are like, I’d rather not wear a chest strap for eight to 12 hours like Jay’s doing. I would say, just start off small. just do a couple hours and do it during your working day.
Really just start to identify man, when is the times or what are the events? That are really causing my nervous system to experience a pounding. And when I experience a pounding, like, how long is that lasting? Is it, really quick and I’m back and recovered, which is to be expected, or man, these things are really impacting me and I stay down for a while.
Like I’m not recovering back to my baseline, for, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour. That’s a really important thing to look at
[00:42:38] Dangers of being led my data from wearables
[00:42:39] Tony Winyard: And on a similar theme, and I’ve heard you talk about this, I think I heard you talk about this on your podcast, the Possible dangers of people being too led by data from devices.
[00:42:50] Dr Jay Wiles: It’s, It is one of the main, one of the biggest pit falls in the field of behavioral psychology, we refer, or in social psychology as well, we refer to it as the process of a self-fulfilling prophecy. People will wake up, they’ll immediately, first thing they do is they’ll look at their Oura score, a whoop score, or they’ll throw their Hanu on, or they’ll do whatever type of, you know, um,Biometric interpretation for that day.
They’ll see their score and then immediately, like life, is going to be lived according to that score. So it’s like without checking in subjectively first, you just take the data for what it is and say, Okay, without context, it is what it is. I’m going to take it as the end all be all.
So my andand there’s a lot of problems to that because you may be either misinterpreting the data or you’re trusting biometrics a little bit more than what you’re trusting your subjective feel. So I have a general rule of thumb is that I, number one is that I don’t look at my phone for the first hour in the morning because I have a set of things that I am doing for my health and wellbeing.
And my morning routine is probably the most, paramount to starting my day off in the way that I want it to. So I don’t look at my phone for the first hour when I almost immediately get up and I go take a shower. is the first thing that I do. And normally a cold shower and I go in and during that period of time I will.
Think, and when I say think I’m doing a mental check in, how do I feel? Am I feeling a little bit more sluggish today than normal? do I feel like I’m in a good head space right now? How’s my mood? I do a check in and what it’s become, And I find this very fascinating is that I have worn these devices for so many years and have seen the data so many times is that I can get out when I first check my phone, I can tell you, within a range where my heart rate variability is gonna be.
I can tell you within a range how well I slept or did not sleep, but I use it as a level of check in and as a guide, and I say, Okay, I want to pair my subjective experience with my objective data because if my Oura tells me that I didn’t sleep very well, or my whoop says I didn’t recover very well, I could say, Oh, that’s my excuse that I don’t need to go to the gym the day I don’t need to.
Do you know, XYZ today? Maybe. Or maybe not. if I wake up and I feel absolutely awful and I feel like, Oh man, going and putting forth a lot of that effort may actually suppress my immune system even further. It may not be good for me. Then I make the decision to, Yeah, it’s gonna be a very light day.
I’ll go for some small walks, like I’ll do some yoga and some stretching. Some maybe biometric type work, but like going out and doing an intense workout, maybe not. Or I’d say I’m gonna place a lot more emphasis on breathwork and biofeedback and meditation today. Like those can be really good things. But the last thing we want to do is just take the data for what the data says it is and provides you and say, Okay, I’m going to live out and fulfill this prophecy that my day is going to be a very crappy day because I didn’t sleep well.
I don’t need to work out. I have now permission to go eat doughnuts and pastries and drink soda . It’s like all these things that I’ve seen and heard before, can easily happen if we put way too much weight into the data.
[00:45:59] HRV early warnings of oncoming health issues
[00:45:59] Tony Winyard: And so I guess for many people it’s gonna be hard to know what to believe because, and. I can think of as an example, during the Covid pandemic, I can’t remember the guy’s first name. The golfer, McIlroy and the whoop strap helped let him know that he had a covid bout coming on because I think he, if I remember rightly, two days before he officially got a test saying he had C, he could see from his HRV scores that there was something not right.
[00:46:26] Dr Jay Wiles: Yes. Yep. And that can happen. Yeah, cuz you can see it well in advance. so what we tell people is that, it’s a really interesting metric because, we know from studies that it can, begin to show signs of ailment to the nervous system or a taxation on the nervous system, prior to symptom presentation.
And the reason being is because, your immune system, your T cells, your white blood cells, they’re actively working, on, inhibiting this invader that is within the body, well in advance from those, symptoms manifesting. And so the nervous system, when it sees the immune system kicking into high gear, it says, oh, time to fire up.
We need blood pumping. Like we need heart rate up. We need all this ability to mobilize energy. We’ve got an invader. It’s time to do some work. And so when it does that, you see that manifest in HR-V going down, heart rate goes up. And for me, I’ve seen it with my Hanu, like there’s been. Where I’m like, Ooh, HR V is down a lot lower than it normally is.
Heart rate’s up a lot higher than it is. I feel fine, but normally this is not a good sign. And then the next day I’ll be like, Uhoh. Yep. I don’t feel good. Like kids brought home something from, their school or whatever it may be, and it’s starting to manifest. And again, I try not to put too much emphasis into that because I don’t wanna say, Oh, I’m not feeling good, so therefore, I should just say, Yeah, I’m gonna be sick.
So therefore, let everything else health wise go out the window as actually the exact opposite. I should be saying, Okay, what can I do now to prepare the mind and the body for what is potentially to come? That’s the approach I take now. I see a lot of people unfortunately taking the other approach, but I think it’s more advantageous to really work on saying, I’m going to now ensure that my mind and body are prepared and ready to go for what appears to be coming in my direction.
[00:48:14] Using the Hanu device in a sauna
[00:48:14] Tony Winyard: You talked about the sauna just now and about how you can get some useful data when you’re doing a sauna, and so when I go to my local gym, I’m always having a sauna session afterwards. Does the phone have to be quite close to your actual strap.
[00:48:26] Dr Jay Wiles: Right now it does. that’s gonna be changing here soon. the device actually has memory built into it, and so we have the ability to capture certain periods of time, without you being near your phone. And then when you get near it, it’ll just sync right up. so right now it’s about 40 to 50 feet.
Away. that, so Bluetooth range. So for me, like when I go into my sauna, I don’t like to carry my phone in the sauna just because I don’t want it to, overheat and bust or whatever. iPhones are too expensive nowadays, so I they’ve always been expensive, but I’ll put ’em in my, locker in the gym that I’m at or at home.
If I’m in the sauna, I’ll. put it outside. but I love wearing it in there. And if you can get to the data stream, it’s fascinating cuz you’ll just see that nice little upward trend of heart rate. You’ll see nice little downward trend of heart rate variability. But the really cool thing is about 30 to 45 minutes after a sauna, you see this really amazing upswing.
The body has experienced the stressor. It’s now in recovery mode. Binds its way into more of a parasympathetically driven mode where people’s HR-V is inflated. Heart rate is down. It’s a really cool process as long as you haven’t overdone it. Now, if you go and overdo like a workout, then a sauna.
So if you do let’s say some high intensity training and then you do as sauna, that’s really hot for long. You might see it suppressed for a little while longer. But we know that level of suppression or that level of training, as long as you’re not overdoing it, is actually really great for the.
there’s about a thousand more questions I’d love to ask, but we run out of time. So I think just before we finish, there’s a couple of questions I always ask. So one is there book that has really moved you for any reason?
[00:49:59] Jay’s fave book
[00:49:59] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, the book that has really moved me, there’s a lot that come to mind. So I tend to be a little bit of an avid ferocious reader. I just, I love reading. but the book that is probably. There’s two that compete, but I’m gonna say one of them. and it’s the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. you know, Emperor of Rome, one of the greatest emperors that Rome’s ever seen, basically wrote a journal of all his thoughts in all his ideas.
it’s of the core of Stoicism now, or one of the core pieces of literature in Stoicism and Stoic philosophy. But, he didn’t mean to write it for anybody, he meant to write it for himself. It was just like if someone were to capture your journal and start like saying, Hey, I’m gonna sell copies. He would’ve never anticipated that.
[00:50:37] Dr Jay Wiles: But I think that’s the beauty behind it is cause he just lays it all out there. But it’s just a great way, it’s just a lot of great Stoic life lessons and learning from someone who was at the pinnacle of what he did during a very difficult time. experiencing and seeing a lot of very awful things and just learning how to live life better, and live with virtue and so yeah, that’s my absolute favorite.
[00:51:01] Tony Winyard: If people wanna find out more about you and about Hanu, where would they go?
[00:51:05] Hanu contact details
[00:51:05] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, Hanu health.com. H a n u health.com. Tony, we can even talk after this. I’d love to give you a code so that you can,give it to your listeners.
But Hanu health.com and you can, we’ll send you the device, you get access to the platform for 12 months and you’ll be good to go in training, resiliency.
[00:51:21] Tony Winyard: Because is it still in the testing stage or is it the actual full release?
[00:51:25] Dr Jay Wiles: So it is a, we released in what’s called test flight, which is basically a beta testing type platform. Levels, the CGM company did this for the first probably three years of existence. We don’t plan on doing it that long. We plan on getting into the app store. but what this helps us to do is really have a lot more advanced level of analytics and diagnostics so that we can ensure that we’re building the right thing for the right people.
but we won’t be doing that forever. It’ll eventually be in the app store, but it’s available to anybody.
[00:51:53] Tony Winyard: Remind me,what does Hanu mean? I remember it was Hawaiian, but I can’t remember what it stood.
[00:51:57] Dr Jay Wiles: you got, it’s Hawaiian for breath, which I think it’s very fitting for us.
[00:52:03] Tony Winyard: And to finish, Jay, is there a quote that resonates with you?
[00:52:06] Jay’s favourite quote
[00:52:06] Dr Jay Wiles: Yeah, so the quote that I’m gonna give actually comes from meditations, and it is a quote from Marcus Aurelius. So bit of a Stoic fanboy, bit of a Marcus Aurelius fanboy. but the quote is, based off of the saying, Memento Mori, which means, remember that you’re mortal, you will die , which kind of sounds morbid to, stop or Ito, end the podcast.
But this is the quote that I really love and it is; “you could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do, what you say, and what you think”. And I think that is a amazing, conceptualization of how we should live life. That it’s very short. it could end at any given moment, and because of that, we really need to do what we can, to love ourselves, to love others, to be in community, to live life to its fullest.
[00:52:53] Tony Winyard: That’s a quote that’s really misunderstood by many people, isn’t it?
[00:52:56] Dr Jay Wiles: It is 100% yes.
[00:53:00] Tony Winyard: So it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for giving us such amazing information, and I think people have a better understanding of what HRV is now and how the devices like the Hanu could really help them. So thank you.
[00:53:11] Dr Jay Wiles: Yes, absolutely. Thank you.
[00:53:14] Tony Winyard: Next week, episode 93 with Holly Middleton. Who is a movement coach specialising in restoring global movement patterns, by fine tuning movements of the skeleton. So we talk about gait analysis, foot function assessments, joint by joint movement screenings. And a lot more. And so that’s the next week’s episode with Holly middleton. If you know anyone who would enjoy and get some value from this week’s episode with Dr. Jay Wiles. Please share the episode with them and hope have a great week
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