Apple Watch guide to understand and use HRV (Heart Rate Variability)

how to remove health and fitness data from iPhone and Apple Watch using the Health app

Heart Rate Variability is an important metric that many Apple Watch users often ignore. HRV can provide you good guidance around your health.

For example, if you’re taking steps to improve your fitness and overall health, you should see a gradual increase in your average heart rate variability over time.

A downward trend in your HRV over several days is worth paying attention to

This could be a sign that you’re training too hard, not sleeping enough, getting sick, eating poorly, encountering too much stress, or failing to hydrate properly.

Higher HRV is associated with reduced morbidity and mortality and improved psychological well-being and quality of life.

Related reading

What is Heart Rate Variability?

Apple defines HRV (Heart rate variability) as a measure of time interval variation interval between heartbeats.

Your Apple Watch calculates HRV using a standard deviation of beat-to-beat measurements (SDNN) captured by the heart rate sensor.

How do you locate Heart Rate Variability information?

The best place to locate heart rate variability information is by using the Health app on your iPhone.

The information is not readily available on your Apple Watch. Here’s how you can track down the details around your Heart Rate Variability (HRV).How to Analyze HRV (Heart Rate Variability) on your Apple Watch

  1. Launch Health App on your iPhone
  2. Tap on the Browse tab at the bottom of your screen
  3. Next, tap on Heart and choose Heart Rate Variability

This report shows you your HRV for the current day, week, month, and year.

What is a good value for HRV?

The specific value of your individual HRV depends on many factors. HRV values can vary depending upon age, gender, sex, genetics, and chronic health conditions.

These are factors beyond your control.

However, other variables are within your control, which influences HRV.

These are your Diet & Nutrition, Alcohol consumption, Sleep habits, stress, volume and intensity of your workouts, and more.

The average HRV score is 59.3 (on a 1-100 scale), with 75% of users HRVs scores falling between 46.3 and 72.0. This is based on benchmark information from a third-party app called Elite HRV.

A more detailed study shows you the Normal HRV by age and sex for a large sample that you can use.Normal HRV values by Gender and Age

According to Harvard Health Publishing, a higher HRV may indicate better cardiovascular fitness and greater resilience to stress. 

Well-trained athletes and physically fit adults typically have a lower resting heart rate because their heart is more efficient at pumping blood through the body.

This also means a higher HRV since variability increases with a slower heart rate.

Where can I locate Resting Heart Rate on my Apple device?

From the Health app, tap on Browse and then choose Heart. You will find your Resting Heart rate details on the third row of the screen.How to check resting heart rate on Apple Watch

According to Mayo Cliniadults’, normal resting heart rates range from 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness.

For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute.

How do I see the HRV increase or decrease between two specific dates on iPhone?

From the HRV graph on your Health App, if you want to see the HRV between specific days of the week or between specific dates in a month and how much it increased or decreased between the date ranges, you will need to use two fingers and tap on the graph.

When you tap on any graph on Apple iPhone using two fingers, it typically shows your displayed chart’s average.

In this instance, since we are trying to find out the average HRV and the increase/decrease between the two dates, place your fingers on both the dates and tap them together.How to check HRV between two dates on your Apple device

Now it will display your Average HRV and the increase or decrease between the two selected dates or time intervals.

How can you improve your HRV?

Whoop provides an excellent guide on HRV in which it calls out the specific six things that one can do to improve Heart Rate Variability.

Intelligent Training

Please don’t overdo it and push too hard for too many days without allowing your body to recover. One training aspect that seems to improve HRV, according to many users, is sprint training.

Try implementing some form of sprint training/conditioning (at a maximum of 2-3 days a week).

You don’t need to do long sprint sessions, but you need to keep them hard and fast.

A good example sprint session could be 4x100yd sprints w/ 45seconds rest (and try to sprint each 100yds in 20 seconds or less). The sprints need to be fast!


The better hydrated you are, the easier it is for your blood to circulate and deliver oxygen and nutrients to your body.

Aiming to drink close to one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day is a good goal.

Avoid Alcohol. 

One night of drinking may negatively affect your HRV for up to five days.

Steady Healthy Diet

Poor nutrition has adverse effects on HRV, as does eating at unexpected times.

Quality Sleep.

It’s not just the amount of sleep you get that matters but also your sleep quality and consistent sleep.

Going to bed and waking up at similar times each day is beneficial.


In general, trying to get your body on a consistent schedule (particularly with sleep and eating) is helpful.

Your body does things more efficiently when it knows what’s coming.

Practice Resonant Breathing at least twice a day.

Slow your breathing rate to around six deep breaths per minute for you to gain control over your breathing.

Taking these slow and deep breaths each minute is called resonance breathing or Resonance Frequency (RF) breathing.

When we practice resonant breathing, we benefit and calm our nervous system, heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood pressure.

Best apps for tracking HRV on your Apple devices

Although many third-party apps can integrate your Health data and provide you synopsis around your overall health, here are some of the apps that have made HRV a science and art when it comes to understanding its impact on your training and recovery.

  1. Welltory App on your Apple Watch and iPhone helps you track your performance and recovery. It uses HRV and other heart rate information and detailed workout information to perform analysis and produce insights that can guide you.HRV App for Apple watch
  2. HRV4Training – Heart Rate Variability (HRV) insights to help you quantify stress, better balance training, and lifestyle, and improve performance. The app also provides explicit correlations that help you evaluate factors that are related to physiological changes and help you adjust your lifestyle accordingly (a good one is typically sleeping quality).HRV analysis and training app on Apple
  3. EliteHRV is another handy HRV and training focussed app that provides you some benchmark information HRV focussed training.

How to locate Beat-to-Beat measurements that drive your HRV

From the HRV graph screen on the health app, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and locate ‘Show All Beat-to-Beat Measurements.’

Once you tap on this, it will show you all the dates for which the B2B measurements have been sampled. HRV Beat to Beat Measurements on Apple Watch

Tap on a specific date from the ranges, scroll down to the bottom of your screen again, and tap on ‘Beat-to-Beat Measurements.’  This shows you the Beats per minute details.

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Final thoughts

In summary, although genetic factors contribute to about 1/3 rd of your overall HRV level, you can still improve your individual HRV by improving your health, fitness, stress management, and recovery skills. 

High HRV is generally considered an indicator of a healthy heart. Higher HRV has been found in many studies to be associated with reduced morbidity and mortality and improved psychological well-being and quality of life. 


  4. Resonant Breathing and impact of HRV Study

Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.


  1. Great post, Niel. My name is Edward, cardiac anesthesia trainee at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. I am trying to conduct a research using the Apple Watch heart rate variability app on heart failure patients. This requires me to access the raw RR intervals. Would you happen to know how to do this. Your help would be much appreciated and acknowledged.

    • Hi Edward,

      Sounds like an interesting study!

      Please see this study on HRV validation for healthy adults that also used RR data–this study (and its authors) may point you in the right direction on how to gather raw RR intervals from Apple Watch.

      • Ed, You should look at some of these tools. The HRV4 logger by Marco Altini is a good app to try. Unfortunately when you export data out of Apple Health, it exports it as an XML output. Many tech folks use Python to extract the details or use a third-party app such as HRV4 logger. for large datasets, Kubios can help you design ramps with the data as well. ( As of writing, RR intervals are made available in the Apple health data and you can compute rMSSD values now. Earlier Apple only allowed access to SDNN values. BTW..Bruce Rogers from University of Florida, Gainsville has a great podcast out there discussing D1alpha,Aerobic Threshold and such that is worth checking out.

  2. Can you monitor HRV with an Apple Watch 3?

    I have read conflicting information about this online There is just no data re HRV in the Health app on my paired iPhone.

    Watch OS 7.x and iOS 14.x. If the Apple Watch 3 does not keep track of HRV, is there an app that will do so?

    This watch does everything else I want. Thanks.

    • Hi Irene,

      Yes, Apple’s Series 3 watch should show your HRV data.

      Are you seeing any data on your heart rate in general, like resting heart rate?

      First, let’s make sure your watch is set up to record your heart data: Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch. Go to Privacy > Health. Tap Heart Rate, then check if Heart Rate is on. If not, turn it on.

      Then, make sure you wear your Apple Watch snuggly, so the sensor can pick up your heart rate. Open the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch to check if your current heart rate, resting rate, and walking average rate show up.

      Then, wear your Apple Watch for most of the day over a series of days to allow the watch and Health app sufficient data to show you an HRV report.

      Also, open the Breathe app a few times per day and follow the animation to focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Apple’s HRV algorithm uses data from the Breathe app as well to calculate HRV.

      We recommend you add Breathe app reminders by going to the Settings app on your Apple Watch, tap Breathe, and set your Breathe reminders.


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