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Taking measurements with your Apple Watch
Taking measurements with your Apple Watch
Mark avatar
Written by Mark
Updated over a week ago

If you have an Apple Watch, you don’t need to use your smartphone camera for measurements: Apple Watch can measure your heart rate variability (HRV), and we can calculate your HRV metrics based on the recorded RR intervals (beat-to-beat measurements). Note that HRV measurement is not an electrocardiogram (ECG) recording, and it cannot be used as a substitute for ECG or a medical check-up.

Please see this page to learn more about how Welltory integrates with the Apple Watch.

We recommend Apple Watch as the most accurate device that you can seamlessly sync with Welltory to take measurements on the go. Recent studies confirm that HRV metrics extracted from Apple Watch can be trusted, and measurements taken with Apple Watch are as accurate as those taken with Polar straps and other heart rate monitors.

To use your Apple Watch with Welltory, you need to connect Apple Health:

  1. Open the Welltory app.

  2. Go to Menu.

  3. In the Apps section, choose Apple Health.

  4. Tap connect.

  5. Turn all categories on and tap Allow.

If the connection has been successful, Apple Health will be marked as connected in the Apps section.

If you’ve already connected Apple Health to Welltory, make sure you’ve allowed Welltory access to your Apple Health data: open Apple Health, go to Profile → Apps → Welltory, and turn all categories on there.

To be able to analyze your HRV measurements and send you the results, we need access to at least your Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability, and Mindful Minutes data. However, the more categories you turn on, the more insights about you and your body you’ll see in your feed: we’ll analyze your data about sleep, steps, workouts, nutrition, productivity, and more. Then, we’ll sort it all into handy charts and send you science-backed recommendations, so that you can work, train, sleep, eat, and live better with data.

How do I take HRV measurements with Apple Watch?

If you have an Apple Watch Series 1 or later, your watch can record your HRV data automatically. As soon as it does, we’ll do the math and send the measurement results to your feed. However, note that Apple Watch automatically measures your heart rate variability only when you are calm and relaxed. When you are stressed and your heart is beating too fast, the watch won’t automatically write your HRV data to Apple Health.

Tech specs to check if your watch can measure your HRV automatically:

  • The watch should have watchOS 6 or later.

  • The watch should be paired with iPhone 6s or later.

  • The iPhone should have iOS 13 or later.

Please note that if you upgraded to WatchOS 9, you might have the Low Power Mode enabled on your Apple Watch. Low Power Mode turns off all background heart rate measurements including HRV measurements. That’s why you might have stopped receiving measurement results in the feed. You can read more about this feature in this Apple Support Help article.

If you feel like taking a manual measurement here and now instead of waiting for your watch to take an automatic one, follow the steps for manual measurements below.

If your Apple Watch does not comply with the above specifications, it can’t record your HRV data automatically. But you still can use it for measurements — by forcing it to check your heart rate and take a manual HRV measurement (see the instruction below).

And, of course, you can always take measurements with your smartphone camera or a heart rate monitor.

How do I take a manual HRV measurement with Apple Watch?

Follow these steps to force your Apple Watch to measure your HRV:

  1. On your watch, press the Digital Crown to go to the Home screen.

  2. Open the Breathe app or select Breathe in the Mindfulness app (depending on your watchOS version).

  3. Turn the Digital Crown to set the measurement length to at least 3 minutes.

  4. Start the measurement. To get accurate results, make sure your watch sits tight on your wrist and follow the key rules: try not to move, don’t control your breath, and keep silent. Note that you don’t have to follow the tips in Breathe — just breathe naturally.

  5. When you’re done, open Welltory and check out your feed to see the results.

In addition to time-domain HRV scores like RMSSD, SDNN, pNN50, and others, you can get frequency analysis with frequency-domain scores. All you need to do is measure your HRV for at least 5 minutes (turn the Digital Crown on your watch to set the length). If your resting heart rate is below 50 beats per minute, we recommend using the smartphone camera instead of the watch to get the frequency analysis (don’t forget to turn on the 300-RR interval duration mode in Menu → Settings).

Also, if your Apple Watch runs watchOS 9 or newer, you can see all new measurement insights on your watch automatically. You can read more about it here.

How many measurements per day I can take with my Apple Watch?

In the Premium version, users can take an unlimited number of measurements per day.

However, in the free version, you are limited to only one measurement with your Apple Watch per day (from 5 a.m. to 5 a.m. the next day), whether it's an automatic measurement or a manual measurement through the Breathe app.

Why doesn’t my HRV measurement with Apple Watch show up in my feed?

This can happen due to several reasons, for example:

  • Your measurement was too short — less than 50 heartbeats. Check if your watch recorded enough heartbeats by going to Apple Health → the Browse tab → Heart → Heart Rate Variability → Show All Beat-to-Beat Measurements. Open the measurement in question and go to Beat-to-Beat Measurements to see how many heartbeats were recorded.

  • A short while ago, you had a measurement with a higher accuracy score, and there is no point in showing you similar yet less reliable results. However, if you measure your HRV using Breathe, we’ll send the results to your feed no matter what.

  • Your watch hasn’t yet synced with Apple Health, from where we get the data to analyze. It can take up to 30 minutes for your Apple Watch to sync with Apple Health. Check if your measurement has appeared in Apple Health by going to Apple Health → the Browse tab → Heart → Heart Rate Variability → Show All Data. Open the recordings for the day in question: if there is a watch icon next to your data, Apple Watch has successfully written your measurement to Apple Health. You can tap on a particular measurement to see all the details.

What if I want to meditate with Breathe/Mindfulness?

If you want to use the Breathe/Mindfulness app for mindfulness sessions rather than HRV measurements, open Welltory, go to Menu → Settings → Device, and turn off Use Breathe for measurements.

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