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Tracking Resting Heart Rate

Justin Timmer analyzed his resting heart rate data for a two year period and produced an elegant summary of his findings. Resting heart rate has become a popular health marker. A lower RHR indicates physical fitness and suggests a longer lifespan. One investigation into RHR sampled nearly 3,000 men over a sixteen year duration.

There are a variety of fitness tracker which can be used to track resting heart rate. I use a Garmin Vivoactive HR which I export the data from Garmin Connect. Justin used a MyBasis B1 (which is no longer an option). The Jawbone UP4, Fitbit Charge 2, Beddit, and Emfit are ready to track RHR.

Justin’s findings revealed that alcohol, lack of sleep and illness would increase his resting heart rate. Reduced activity and social engagement would decrease his RHR. One unexpected finding was a yearly pattern of reduced RHR in September that increases and peaks in December. Oddly enough I see a similar pattern in my own RHR data of a reduced RHR in August that climbs into December.

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  1. Fascinating, maybe a correlation between temperature and resting heart rate? Looks like the yearly peaks are in the cold months like January and February.

  2. Tony,

    I’m glad someone else finds this topic of interest.

    I like your thoughts about a higher resting heart rate being perhaps related to temperature.

    I normally would associate the cold temperatures of January and February with reduced heart rate and the shorter days with increased levels of sleep. Instead we are seeing the opposite from this small dataset.

    It would be fun to compare RHR data with between hemispheres and see if someone in New Zealand has the exact opposite RHR cycle as someone in New York.

    Perhaps caloric intake would be an interesting metric to compare with against RHR data. As the weather gets cooler we eat more to stay warm and the digestion process could increases our resting heart rate.

    Finally the number of daylight hours could play a roll. A longer day might mean going to sleep several hours after dinner resulting in a reduced heart rate due to digestion taking place while awake.

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