Like HRV and VO2 max, heart rate recovery is a lesser-known health metric that is tracked by the Apple Watch. Follow along with us to find out how to see your Apple Watch’s heart rate recovery data, why it’s worth, what good heart rate recovery numbers look like, and some tips on improving it.
What is heart rate recovery and why is it important?
Heart rate recovery measures how much your heart rate drops immediately after exercise. Like heart rate variability, heart rate recovery (HRR) provides insight into your heart’s health by how quickly your autonomic nervous system responds.
MedPage Today explains HRR like this:
Measures of this activity reflect the balance between the sympathetic nervous system (which activates fight-and-flight responses) and the parasympathetic nervous system (which activates “rest and digest” activities) and has been shown to be a strong predictor of mortality.
An abnormally low heart rate as an indicator that individuals are twice as likely to die within six years was found in one of the most cited studies — cited more than 1,000 times — by Cole, Blackstone, Bachko, Snader and Lauer.
What are good heart rate recovery numbers?
More recent studies validated by Cole et al. The results show that Heart rate 13 or greaterr (i.e. a decrease of 13 bpm or more) after 1 minuteor 22 or more after 2 minutes Within the normal/healthy range.
However, keep in mind that in order to accurately test your heart rate recovery, you’ll need to turn off Apple Watch Workout Recording right after your workout. For example, if you leave the workout running after you’ve finished your workout and stretch, sit, relax, and then finish your workout, you’ll see lower heart rate numbers because Apple Watch doesn’t compare your maximum heart rate or near peak heart rate to your heart rate 1-2 minutes after exercise .
Likewise, workouts that include a cool-down period will also skew your heart rate numbers. Third-party apps that support initiating workouts on Apple Watch such as Peloton, etc. may also terminate workouts before the wearable device can measure the RHR. In these cases, your heart rate recovery numbers will not appear on your Apple Watch or iPhone.
Don’t worry if you notice a low heart rate here and there. These numbers can vary depending on your age, among other factors. But if you constantly see yourself below the numbers above and stop working out your Apple Watch right after you’re done, it may be worth checking with your doctor about it.
Another note, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that restoring a heart rate measured just 10 seconds after exercise may be more accurate in predicting mortality, but the Apple Watch sticks to the traditional 1-2 minute approach.
Apple Watch Heart Rate Recovery: How to Track and View
Your Apple Watch will automatically track your resting heart rate. This happens when you quit workout tracking, so be sure to leave the wearable on for three minutes afterward (per Apple).
To view your HRR data:
- On your Apple Watch, head to heart rate app
- Swipe or scroll down
- As long as you have a recorded workout for the day, you should see a file Recovery Section
- Click on it to see the details
- Heart rate recovery shows how much your heart rate has decreased after 1-2 minutes of exercise
- Keep in mind that you will need to leave your Apple Watch on after workouts for the HRR reading to be measured
- To see the HRR data from the previous days, you’ll need to head over to your iPhone, follow below
- To see heart rate recovery data from your Apple Watch for previous workouts, head over to iPhone fitness app
- Select the Summary tab At the bottom
- press a last exercise From the home screen or tap File Activity rings > Choose a day > swipe down to find your workout(s)
- Find your heart rate data near the bottom > swipe left to right to see your heart rate
Interestingly, Apple does not include heart rate recovery data in the Health app under the Heart section.
How to improve heart rate recovery?
There are a number of ways to improve heart rate recovery. Wearable device maker Whoop shared this list of tips for improving the response between your heart and the autonomic nervous system:
- Good sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Practice meditation or breathing
- stress reduction
- Avoid alcohol
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