How to track heart rate using a wearable

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A wakeup call. “That’s what What Wellness host Ella Dove christened her heart rate monitor in our latest episode. We called it in our 2020 trend report: Your health is now really in your hands (and on your wrist). Thanks to new innovations in portable technology, we can now track everything from our sleep to our menstrual cycles. But even though our wearables have risen from the most common pedometers (I mean, you can now use your FitBit to pay for your coffee), the original metric they set out to track from the beginning – your heart rate – is still the most important of all.

To show us why Dove tested an Apple Watch ($ 329) in a month – and in three much different fitness classes – to see what it would tell her about her fitness levels. But why is this information worth keeping track of, in your training and beyond? “In general, your heart rate gives you an overall picture of your health and well-being and tells you how good your cardiovascular fitness is,” says cardiologist Jennifer Haythe, MD. And one metric that is worth seeing, in addition to your maximum and average heart rate, is your heart rate variation.

Heart rate variability (or “HRV”) is determined by the amount of time between heartbeats. Doctors at Harvard Health explain that this metric is important because having a high HRV or a large variation in time between heartbeats correlates positively with having good cardiovascular fitness. Low HRV, on the other hand, can signal that your body is stressed.

So what did Dove learn by having just that data within reach? Watch the video above to find out how to get smart with your tracking.

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