Here’s why HRV is important and how you can track it with your Apple Watch and iPhone


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 use the data — leaving that to third-party apps. Below, we’ll explain what HRV is, why it’s important, and how to sign up for and use HRV with your Apple Watch and iPhone.

Update 01/14/23: A new study has been released that once again shows 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 tiny discrepancies, but devices like the Apple Watch capture HRV, which is measured in milliseconds.

Some medical professionals claim that measuring HRV through the skin with smartwatches is not as accurate as dedicated medical equipment. But there have been studies showing the Apple Watch to be as reliable as products like Polar HRV heart rate monitors.

Why is HRV important?

Although it may seem like a bad thing at first, a higher heart rate actually indicates that you are healthier, happier, and less stressed, and may mean that you have recovered and are ready to exercise.

Many health and fitness professionals consider the HRV to be one of the best measures for knowing when your body needs to rest or is ready to perform, as well as providing insight into the state of your autonomic nervous system.

Besides HRV, Cardio Fitness – based on VO2 max – is a valuable measure to know that it can be both an indicator and predictor of overall health.

Here’s how the Cleveland Clinic describes HRV:

The variability of your heart reflects your body’s ability to adapt. If your heart rate is highly variable, this is usually evidence of your body’s ability to adapt to many types of changes. People with highly variable heart rates are generally less stressed and happier.

On the other hand, a lower heart rate (at rest) may indicate that your body is less adaptive/flexible and may 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 evolving measure. It also depends on a variety of factors, including physical and mental stress/health, diet, nutrition, alcohol consumption, sleep patterns, age, gender, genetics, exercise frequency/intensity, etc.

HRV can also change a lot in the day, so don’t get hung up on tracking it every hour. With this in mind, it’s important not to use your HRV by comparing it to others, but simply to look at your HRV trends over time. If you have any questions about your HRV numbers, see your doctor.

But if you’re curious to see the general HRV numbers, Whoop has published the average HRV values ​​for 50% of its users by age:

How to use an HRV with Apple Watch - Average number of HRVs by age via Whoop

How to use HRV with your Apple Watch and iPhone

How to find HRV data on your Apple Watch

For Apple Watch 18+ users, the HRV is automatically recorded on the Apple Watch (in most countries). However, you need to head to the Health app on the iPhone to check 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, semester, and year
How to record and view HRV with Apple Watch and iPhone

How to force an HRV recording with your Apple Watch

You can get more accurate and potentially more useful data if you take an HRV reading manually 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 he chose to breathe
  • Soon after, you’ll see your new HRV data appear in the Health app on your iPhone

Get the most out of 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’s helpful to know that a higher heart rate is a good indicator of overall health, but what about the more actionable insights?

I used the Training Today app and liked its 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 sedentary but listen to your body” or “prepare for peak performance.”

The Training Today program calls it the Readiness to Train (RTT) score and works on an easy-to-use, color-coded 0-10 scale. I’ve found the recommendations very helpful in listening to what my body is telling me.

Apple Watch Training Today App - Use HRV with Apple Watch and iPhone

Training Today is free to download from the App Store with in-app purchases to unlock all app features.

Other great HRV-based apps to check out include:

And if you have a compatible Bluetooth device or an ANT heart rate monitor from Polar, Suunto, or others, the Elite HRV is another iOS app that offers a more tailored and actionable experience.

How to improve HRV

The 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 review/prioritize:

  • Practice
  • Diet and nutrition
  • regular sleep
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Concentrated breathing
  • contemplation
  • cold therapy
  • Gratitude Journal

Read more lessons from

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