Cardio Recovery: The Importance of Measuring Heart Rate Variability after Exercise with Apple Watch

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Cardio Recovery is one of the more recent health improvements in watchOS, according to Apple. It turns out that Cardio Recovery was previously offered on the Apple Watch under the commonly used name “heart rate recovery.” Apple changed the feature’s name to Cardio 

Recovery in watchOS 9 and iOS 16—possibly to match its Cardio Fitness (VO2 max) measure in the Health app. Notably, the feature was previously only present in the Fitness app and didn’t appear in the Health app, but iOS 16 now includes it.

Similar to HRV and Cardio Fitness, Apple Watch measures Cardio Recovery, also known as heart rate recovery, each time you log an exercise. How to ensure you get correct readings, whether you’ve never used the feature before or are curious about why it’s valuable.

Cardio Recovery is an important feature in fitness tracking, which helps monitor and analyze heart rate variability after a workout. With the advent of wearable technology, like the Apple Watch Ultra with a bigger screen and battery, tracking this data has become more convenient and accurate. This watch can provide continuous monitoring of heart rate and recovery trends, helping to ensure optimal workout results and preventing overtraining. By leveraging advanced algorithms and sensors, the Apple Watch Ultra can provide insights into the intensity and duration of exercise and the corresponding recovery rate, allowing users to adjust their workouts for optimal health and fitness outcomes.

Why is Heart Rate Recovery Important? 

Cardio Recovery gauges how quickly your heart rate drops following activity. Heart rate recovery (HRR), like heart rate variability, provides a snapshot of your heart’s health by measuring how quickly it reacts to the autonomic nervous system.

According to MedPage Today, HRR is as follows:

Measures of that activity have been demonstrated to be effective predictors of mortality because they reflect the equilibrium between the sympathetic nervous system, which stimulates “fight-or-flight” reactions, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes “rest and digest” activities.

One of the most often mentioned research by Cole, Blackstone, Pashkow, Snader, and Lauer, with over 1,000 citations, discovered that abnormally low HRR was a predictor of people having a twofold increased risk of dying within six years.

Which Metrics for Cardio Recovery are Ideal?

A drop in heart rate of at least 13 beats per minute (bpm) after one minute, or a drop of at least 22 after two minutes, according to more recent research that support Cole et alfindings, .’s is considered to be within the normal/healthy range.

However, keep in mind that you should cease your Apple Watch’s workout recording as soon as your workout is complete in order to evaluate heart rate recovery as accurately as possible. For instance, since Apple Watch isn’t comparing your workout heart rate to your 1- and 2-minute post-exercise heart rates, you’ll get low HRR values if you leave your workout going after you complete, stretch, sit down, and unwind.

Similarly, workouts with a cooldown will also affect HRR measurements. Additionally, third-party apps like Peloton, which enable Apple Watch users to begin exercises, may also cease sessions before the watch can detect your heart rate recovery. Heart rate recovery stats won’t show up on Apple Watch or iPhone in these situations.

If you occasionally see low HRR, don’t be concerned. These figures can change based on your age, among other things. But if you routinely fall below the aforementioned ranges and cease your Apple Watch workouts immediately after your workout is over, it could be worthwhile to contact your doctor.

Heart rate recovery recorded just 10 seconds after exercise may be more accurate at predicting mortality, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, while Apple Watch continues to use the more conventional 1 and 2-minute approach.

Cardio Recovery is also beneficial for those who have suffered a heart attack. According to studies, cardiac rehabilitation can speed up heart rate recovery by 18 to 22 beats per minute.

How to Track and View Apple Watch Cardio Recovery

Watch Apple

Your Cardio Recover will be automatically tracked by Apple Watch (heart rate recovery). Make sure to keep your wearable on for three minutes after finishing your workout tracking to avoid this (per Apple).

View your data here:

  • Navigate to the Heart Rate app on Apple Watch.
  • Scroll down or swipe to the bottom
  • You should see a Recovery section in watchOS 8, which is called Post-Exercise in watchOS 9, as long as you have a workout recorded for the day.
  • Click it to see more information
  • Cardio/heart rate recovery reveals the amount by which your heart rate dropped one and two minutes after working out.
  • Remember that after working out, you must leave your Apple Watch on.

You must access your iPhone in order to view data from earlier days. See the instructions below.

iPhone’s Health application (only with iOS 16)

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone on iOS 16
  • Tap Heart Look for Cardio Recovery after selecting the Browse option in the bottom right corner.
  • You may now view any data you’ve gathered with Apple Watch by tapping the D/W/M/6M/Y tabs at the top.

iOS 16, 15, and before is Option 2

  • Go to the iPhone’s Fitness app to view Apple Watch cardio/heart rate recovery data for past workouts.
  • select the Summary tab from the bottom menu.
  • From the home screen, select a recent workout, or select one of your activity rings. select a day > To find your workout, swipe to the bottom (s)
  • Near the bottom, locate your heart rate information. To view your heart rate recovery and cardio fitness, swipe left to right.

It’s interesting to note that in iOS 15 and earlier, Apple doesn’t show the Cardio/heart rate recovery statistics in the Health app under the heart area.

Summing Up

One of the more recent health enhancements in watchOS, Cardio Recovery, was unveiled in watchOS 9 and iOS 16. Every time you log an exercise, it calculates cardio recovery, commonly known as heart rate recovery. Getting accurate readings is crucial, whether you’ve never used the tool before or are just interested in its benefits. Because it represents the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic neural systems, heart rate recovery (HRR) is a reliable indicator of mortality. The normal/healthy range is defined as a decrease in heart rate of at least 13 beats per minute (bpm) after one minute and at least 22 after two minutes.

While Apple Watch continues to employ the more traditional 1 and 2-minute strategy, heart rate recovery measured just 10 seconds after exercise may be more accurate at predicting mortality. Cardio Recovery can hasten heart rate recovery by 18 to 22 beats per minute, making it helpful for patients who have had a heart attack. After recording your workout for three minutes, go to the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch to observe and measure your cardio recovery. Recovery is a feature of Apple Watch in watchOS 8, and Post-Exercise is a feature of Apple Watch in watchOS 9. The amount by which your heart rate decreased one and two minutes after working out is indicated by cardio/heart rate recovery.