What is Cardio Recovery on the iPhone And Apple Wade

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Like HRV and VO2 max, Cardio Recovery or heart rate recovery is a lesser-known health metric that’s measured by Apple Watch every time you track a workout. Whether you’ve never used the feature before or are curious about why it’s valuable, how to make sure you get accurate readings, or how to improve yours, read on 😁.

Apple’s Cardio Recovery is one of the new health features in watchOS 9 and iOS 16. To learn more about this function, including what it is, how to track it with an Apple Watch, why it’s useful, what good Cardio Recovery numbers are, and suggestions for improvement, continue reading. 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 only appeared in the Fitness app until being extended to the Health app with iOS 16.


  • Abnormally low HRR was found as a predictor of individuals being twice as likely to die within six years in one of the most cited studies – referenced over 1,000 times – from Cole, Blackstone, Pashkow, Snader, and Lauer. More recent studies validating the Cole et al. findings show that Cardio Recovery or heart rate recovery of 13 or greater (meaning a drop of 13 bpm or more) after 1 minute, or 22 or greater after two minutes is in the normal/healthy range.

  • Cardio Recovery (heart rate recovery) measures how much your heart rate decreases immediately after exercise. As with heart rate variability, heart rate recovery (HRR) offers a look at your heart health by how fast it responds to the autonomic nervous system. Measures of that activity reflect the balance between the sympathetic nervous system (which activates fight and flight responses) and the parasympathetic nervous system (which activates ‘rest and digest’ activities) and have been shown to be powerful predictors of mortality.

Don’t worry if you notice low HRR here and there and these numbers can vary depending on your age among other factors. But if you consistently see yourself below the above numbers and are stopping Apple Watch workouts right after finishing your exercise, it may be worth checking in with your doctor.

However, keep in mind, that to most accurately test heart rate recovery you’ll want to stop your Apple Watch workout recording right after your workout. For example, if you leave your workout running after you finish, stretch, sit down, relax, and then end the workout, you’ll see low HRR numbers since Apple Watch isn’t comparing your workout heart rate to your 1-minute and 2-minute post-exercise heart rate. Similarly, workouts that include a cooldown will also skew HRR numbers. And third-party apps that support starting workouts on Apple Watch like Peloton etc. may also end workouts before the wearable is able to measure the heart rate recovery. In these cases, heart rate recovery numbers will not appear on Apple Watch or iPhone.

One more note, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that heart rate recovery measured just 10 seconds after exercise may be more accurate at predicting mortality but Apple Watch sticks with the more traditional 1 and 2-minute approach.  Cardio/heart rate recovery shows how much your heart rate decreased both 1 and 2 minutes after your workout. Keep in mind you’ll need to leave your Apple Watch on after workouts for the HRR reading to be measured. There are a number of ways to improve Cardio Recovery (heart rate recovery). Wearable maker Whoop has shared this list of tips to improve the responsiveness between your heart and autonomic nervous system:


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