How to See Your Heart Rate Recovery on the iPhone

Apple Watch tops Stanford study for heart rate monitors in fitness trackers

Using an Apple Watch to track your activity? Then you should check out how quickly your heart rate recovers after you do a workout, which can give you important insight into how healthy your ol’ ticker is. Your Watch helpfully tracks that metric for three minutes after you stop your activity, meaning that you can go back through time and track your progress on that front without having had to turn anything on in advance.

Now, there are a few ways you can see this data on the Watch itself (such as by visiting the independent Heart Rate app and scrolling to the bottom), but that’ll only show you the number for your last workout; to see the history of your previous workouts, you’ll open the Activity app on your iPhone instead and then tap on the “Workouts” tab.

Activity App on iPhone showing workouts

Touch any workout on that screen to select it, and when you do, you’ll see a graph of your heart rate throughout the activity.

Heart Rate Data in Activity app on iPhone

If you then swipe from right to left across that section, your recovery info for that workout will be shown, along with some helpful red numbers to indicate where your rate was after one minute and then two.

Heart Rate Recovery Info in Activity app on iPhone

As I noted, this data is considered an important guide for cardiovascular health. That study I linked above found a poor heart rate recovery to be a predictor of…uh…mortality. You know, death.

And now I’m going to go work out. Thanks, TMO.

5 thoughts on “How to See Your Heart Rate Recovery on the iPhone

  • Great question, Lee.

    There is no average recovery time, per se. Much depends on the baseline fitness of the individual, how much cardiovascular exercise they get, and a number of other factors.

    In general, shorter is better. The better your cardio conditioning, the faster will be your recovery time.

    What is more important for the individual is learning what their own recovery time is, based on their level and duration of effort, and monitoring it for changes over time. This is much the same as we instruct parents of children with asthma, to know what is that child’s individual respiratory performance, like peak flow. Similarly, cardiac performance will vary by individual.

    There is some general guidance, publicly available, that you can use to assess your level of effort, and then simply observe your recovery time for light, moderate and high levels of effort. This is the same guidance that many fitness outfits also use as people develop an exercise regimen.

    Bottom line: if you find your recovery time is increasing over time for the same level of effort, or if you have questions or concerns about it, talk to your doctor. Your recordings will be helpful.

  • Melissa:

    This is a great tip, and you’re exactly right; heart rate recovery is an important metric and an indicator of heart health as well as the risk for…bad stuff. Everyone should be encouraged to look at this indicator, particularly those at risk for, or with a history of, cardiovascular disease.

    That said, just some feedback. I note that my AW Series 3 and iPhone X are no better than my Series 2 and iPhone 6s at tracking my heart rate for my more extreme workouts (when my heart rate goes above 180). For workouts like weight lifting or core training, or even walking, I get a great record. When I go ballistic with something like Insanity Max 30, I will get an average heart rate, and the heart rate app on my Health app will have a few measurements, including Min and Max, but I don’t get the tracking. Instead, I get a message on the Activity Workout section saying that there were insufficient numbers of measurements and to make sure that my AW has good contact. I played with the fitting of the AW enough to know that there is no adjustment I can make to capture those readings.

    My assessment is that Apple need to work on the pulse rate monitor and/or the Activity app software to better capture those for more vigorous workouts, which is where you really need to see your recovery.

    Hope that’s useful.

    1. What would be a healthy, well average, recovery time? I understand that for legal purposes you might not be able to give such information ourside or a doctor/patient relationship.

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