This May Be the Most Important Health Metric an Apple Watch Can Tell You
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Why Your Resting Heart Rate Is Important
First off, what is your resting heart rate? According to the American Heart Association, it’s the “number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest.”
Pretty simple. But it may be a better indicator of your overall health than, say, your heart rate during intense exercise. That’s according to Dr. Jennifer Haythe, MD, a cardiologist and director of cardio-obstetrics at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia.
Dr. Haythe told Well + Good that a “person in excellent physical condition will have a low resting heart rate … and will return to baseline quickly after exercise.”
According to her, a low resting heart rate is in the 50 to 70 beats-per-minute (BPM) range. And it’s because a healthy heart can pump more blood per beat, reducing the number of beats necessary to perfuse the body.
Higher resting heart rates are associated with a range of health problems, according to a study published in the journal Heart. On the flip side, excessively low heart rates could just as easily signify problems with your ticker — particularly for older people.
In general, doctors advise that you check your resting heart rate at least a few times a week (which can be done on your Apple Watch fairly easily). According to the Harvard Health Blog, a resting heart rate can be reliably lowered by exercise.
Of course, you should talk to your doctor if you’re at all concerned about how your heart is ticking.
How to Check Your Resting Heart Rate
Checking your resting heart rate is pretty easy in watchOS.
- Just open the Heart app and you’ll see a readout of your current heart rate. The Heart Rate app can also show you your resting heart rate for the day that you’re checking it.
- You can also check out your resting heart rate in the iOS Health app. In iOS 13 and later, that’s done by tapping on the Browse tab in the lower menu bar and selecting Heart. If you tap on Resting Heart Rate in this menu, you can see a chart detailing the rate by day, week, month or year.
It’s also highly recommended that you set up irregular rhythm, high heart rate and low heart rate notifications in the Watch app if you haven’t already.
These alerts can notify you if your resting heart rate is unusually low or high, or if you have heart rhythms that could be a sign of atrial fibrillation. You can enable these in the Watch app on your iPhone. Just navigate to the Heart section.