HRV is a valuable overall health metric measured by the Apple Watch, however, there is no native integration into watchOS or iOS to better understand and make use of the data — leaving that to third-party apps. Below we’ll cover what HRV is, why it’s important, and how to record and use HRV with your Apple Watch and iPhone.
Update 1/14/23: new The study has been published This again demonstrates that the Apple Watch is accurate at tracking HRV.
What is HRV?
HRV stands for heart rate variability and is a measure of how the time interval between heartbeats changes. You don’t notice these small differences but like the hardware Apple Watch HRV capture, which is measured in milliseconds.
Some medical professionals The measurement of HRV through the skin with smart watches is not as accurate as dedicated medical equipment. But there it was studies that show The Apple Watch is as reliable as products like it Polar heart rate monitors to measure HRV.
Why is HRV important?
While it may seem like a bad thing at first, a higher heart rate actually indicates that you are healthier, happier, and less stressed, and it can mean that you have recovered and are ready to exercise.
HRV is considered by many health and fitness professionals to be one of the best measures for knowing when your body needs to rest or is ready to perform as well as gaining insight into the state of your autonomic nervous system.
along with HRV, Cardio Fitness – based on VO2 max It is a valuable measure to be aware of and can be an indicator and predictor of overall health.
Here’s how to make a file Cleveland Clinic HRV describes:
The variety of your heart reflects how adaptable your body is. If your heart rate is highly variable, this is usually a sign that your body can adapt to many types of changes. People with elevated heart rate variability are usually less stressed and happier.
On the flip side, a low HRV (at rest) can indicate that your body is less adaptive/flexible and could be a sign of health issues or potential health problems in the future.
What is a good HRV number?
HRV is a highly individual and constantly changing measure. It also depends on a variety of factors including physical and mental stress/health, diet, nutrition, alcohol use, sleep habits, age, gender, genetics, exercise frequency/intensity, and more.
HRV can also change a lot in the course of a day, so don’t get stuck tracking it hour-to-hour. With this in mind, it is important not to use your HRV by comparing it to others but just to look at your HRV trends over time. If you have questions about your HRV numbers, check with your doctor.
But if you’re curious to know the public HRV numbers, Whoop has posted Median 50% HRV values For its users by age:
How to use HRV with your Apple Watch and iPhone
How to find your HRV Apple Watch data
For Apple Watch users 18 years of age and older, HRV is automatically recorded using the Apple Watch (in most countries). However, you need to head to the Health app on the iPhone to take a look at the data.
- open the Health app on iPhone
- Click on Browse tab in the lower right corner
- Choose now heart > Heart rate variability
- At the top, you can change the display of HRV data by day, week, month, half year, and year
How to force an HRV recording with your Apple Watch
You can get more accurate and potentially more useful data if you manually take an HRV reading with your Apple Watch while you’re at rest, and at the same time each day.
- In addition to automatic readings, you can force your Apple Watch to record your HRV by opening a file vigilance application and choose breathes
- Soon after, you’ll see your new HRV data appear in the Health app on your iPhone
Get more value from your HRV data
The sticking point is that the Apple Watch and the iOS Health app don’t provide any recommendations or insights about your HRV data like Whoop or Oura does.
It helps to know that an HRV trending higher is a good indicator of overall health, but what about more actionable insights?
I used the app Training today I was impressed by her recommendations. After letting it read your HRV data from the Health app, the app compares your current HRV to your baseline to make a recommendation such as take time to recover, “stay steady while listening to your body,” or “prepare for peak performance.”
Coaching Today calls it the Readiness Score for Training (RTT) and operates on an easy-to-use, colour-coded 0-10 scale. I’ve found the recommendations to be a really helpful nudge to listen to what my body is telling me.
Training today is a Free download from the App Store Through in-app purchases to unlock all features of the app.
More great HRV-based apps that you can check out include:
And if you have a compatible Bluetooth device or ANT heart rate monitor from polarAnd suuntoor others, HRV Elite is another iOS app that offers a more detailed and actionable experience.
How to improve HRV
Whoop smart health tracker has a great article on 10 ways to improve your HRV. You probably won’t find many surprises but the list is a good reminder of the areas to revisit/prioritize:
- Diet and nutrition
- continuous sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid alcohol
- Concentrated breathing
- cold therapy
- Gratitude Diary
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