Curious about heart rate recovery data but aren’t quite sure what it is? Follow along for how to see your heart rate recovery data on Apple Watch, what it means, and what good heart rate recovery numbers are.
What is heart rate recovery and what does it mean?
Heart rate recovery measures how much your heart rate decreases after exercise. MedPage Today has a good explainer describing heart rate recovery as “information on cardiovascular parameters that reflect the activity of the autonomic nervous system.”
Measures of that 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 have been shown to be powerful predictors of mortality.
In many studies, heart rate recovery (HRR) was a strong predictor for individuals being twice as likely to die within the next six years.
A 1999 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that abnormally low HRR was associated with double the risk of dying over six years.
This 20-year-old study and HRR remain highly relevant. The paper has been cited 1,001 times since publication. Thus far in 2019, 58 papers have referenced it.
What are good heart rate recovery numbers?
More recent studies validating the 1999 findings show that HRR of 13 or greater (meaning a drop of 13 bpm or more) after 1 minute, or 22 or greater after two minutes is in the normal/healthy range.
However, keep in mind, to most accurately test heart rate recovery you’ll want to stop your Apple Watch workout recording right after your workout. For example, if you leave your workout running after you finish, stretch, sit down, relax, and then end the workout, you’ll see low HRR numbers since Apple Watch isn’t comparing the peak heart rate or near peak heart rate with your recovery rate(s).
But if you regularly see yourself below those numbers, it may be good to check in with your doctor. Cardiologist Anthony Pearson, MD says:
If your 1-minute HRR is <13 beats or 2-minute HRR <22 beats per minute, this is a bad prognostic sign. If you have not been diagnosed with significant cardiovascular disease, consider seeing a physician for evaluation.
Apple Watch: How to see heart rate recovery
- On your Apple Watch, head to the Heart Rate app
- Swipe or scroll to the bottom
- As long as you have a workout recorded for the day, you’ll see a Recovery section
- Tap it to see more details
- Heart rate recovery shows how much your heart rate decreased both 1 and 2 minutes after your workout
- To see HRR data from previous days, you’ll need to head to your iPhone, follow along below
- To see heart rate recovery data for previous workouts, head to the Activity app on iPhone
- Choose a day you’d like to look at
- Swipe to the bottom and tap a recorded workout
- On the Heart Rate section, swipe from right to left
- You’ll see your heart rate recovery data now
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