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How do I make sense of my measurement results?
How do I make sense of my measurement results?
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Written by Mark
Updated over a week ago

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With Welltory, you can measure your heart rate variability using your smartphone camera and flash, heart rate monitor, or Apple Watch. The results will give you an objective picture of how your body is doing at the moment, and our algorithm will translate your heart rate variability data into easy-to-understand scores of Stress, Energy, and Health.

Whether you take measurements regularly or have just started with the app, you probably have some questions. This article provides answers to the most frequent ones.

Note that Welltory is not a medical app. It is not intended to be utilized for medical purposes and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Why do I get my measurement results in two different messages?

Because they are calculated using two different approaches: based on scientific formulas ignoring your individual peculiarities (chart message) and based on our own research taking into account your specific context (liquid message).

The chart message includes metrics calculated based on common scientific formulas. They are publicly available in academic and medical publications or on relevant websites. You can show these numbers to your doctor or coach, or use them for research.

The liquid message includes Stress, Energy, and Health scores — calculated based on our own research and taking into account your individual context, habits, and lifestyle. Below the liquid, you’ll also see key insights interpreting your measurement results.

Why do I see contradictory interpretations of some metrics in my measurement results?

The thing is, the chart message metrics are very general. They don’t take into account your physiological characteristics or lifestyle. And they are calculated independently of one another. As a result, they can sometimes contradict each other, misalign with the Stress, Energy, and Health scores, or fail to reflect how you feel.

Then why show them in the results? Because they can be useful for people under medical supervision, working with a personal trainer, participating in a scientific study, etc.

However, if you’re using Welltory on your own, we recommend that you pay more attention to the big picture, i.e. Stress, Energy, and Health scores, and the changes in your numbers over time, rather than isolated metrics from a particular chart message.

Why do I feel differently from what my measurement results say?

First, it can be due to low measurement accuracy: for the results to be reliable, measurement quality needs to be at least 95%.

Second, the way you feel may sometimes differ from how your body is actually doing at the moment — and it’s ok.

Heart rate variability doesn’t reflect your mood or emotional state. It shows how your heart and nervous system react to what’s happening to you.

There are many things that can affect your state: from illnesses and positive or negative events in your life to caffeine, nicotine, etc. That’s why you may sometimes feel energized when in reality you need a break. Or find yourself drained while the energy is still there. That’s when your heart rate variability analysis is most helpful — it shows you what your body is really experiencing at the moment.

Let’s look at some examples and see why your measurement results can differ from the way you feel.

I feel tired, but the measurement shows I have enough energy. Why?

  • It can be mental or psychological fatigue rather than physiological.

  • High energy levels can accompany physiological fatigue due to hyperadaptation: your body produces stress hormones, activating your last energy reserves.

  • Your parasympathetic nervous system may be very active at the moment. For example, if you have a high energy score at the end of a hard day, it can be a sign of your body effectively restoring energy, and you’ll most probably feel ok in the morning.

My measurement results are “bad”, but I feel fine. Are the readings inaccurate?

  • If it happens for several days, the situation is worth paying attention to — you may have caught a cold, but don’t have symptoms yet. And it’s a good time to take action.

  • It can be a sign of chronic stress. If you’re used to feeling stressed, you may just not notice how much it affects your body.

  • Your perception of the current situation may not coincide with your body’s actual state. It’s like being a little tipsy — you may feel upbeat and cheerful, but your body is working hard to digest the alcohol.

I’ve had a fight with my partner today, but my measurement results show low stress. Why?

  • To affect your physical state, emotional stress has to either be very strong or continue for a while. So, if you have low physiological stress when your emotions are through the roof, just know that your body can handle the pressure.

Why do my back-to-back measurements show different results?

It usually happens for two reasons: there has been a change in either the measurement accuracy (the higher the measurement quality — the more accurate the results) or your emotional/physical state.

Heart rate variability is highly sensitive to even the slightest changes, including both external factors and adjustments happening inside your body.

Processes in your body never stop: food digestion, hormone production, vascular tone control. That’s why back-to-back measurements can sometimes show slightly different results. However, larger differences can also happen — usually in the situations described below.

  • You take back-to-back measurements after moving around for a while.

Say, you do some exercise and then take 3 measurements within 15 minutes. During this time, your body’s state changes, bouncing back to normal after physical activity.

  • There are shifts in your sympathetic/parasympathetic balance.

For example, you come home after a busy day and lie down to have some rest. Your parasympathetic system becomes active, and recovery processes begin. Back-to-back measurements will capture these changes. At first, the results will reflect your sympathetic system’s predominance, i.e. your body’s stress response to a hard day. And later on, they’ll be affected by your body going into the relax mode.

  • You take back-to-back measurements right after waking up.

At the moment of waking up, your body’s state changes. For many people, it means that the sympathetic nervous system becomes very active for a short period of time. In 15 minutes, the state usually gets back to normal.

To avoid this short-term reaction tinting your results, we recommend that you take your first measurement of the day 15 minutes after waking up, but before taking a shower, exercising, having breakfast, drinking coffee, etc. The best procedure is to get up, use the bathroom, sit down or lie down, wait for 5 minutes, and take a measurement.

Measurements taken right after waking up can sometimes show too low stress and too low focus levels, or too high stress and too low energy scores. Later measurements, as per our recommendations, will be more accurate.

So, if you take back-to-back measurements right after waking up, they’ll most probably show different results: the time between measurements will be enough for the body to become wide awake and for the balance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic systems to change.

  • You were standing or sitting in an uncomfortable position during the measurement.

When taking a measurement, make sure you’re in a comfortable position and your body is not tense. For example, you can take measurements lying on your back or sitting upright, with your hands peacefully resting on a table. Try to take all your measurements in the same position.

  • You checked your Facebook page, had a phone call, etc. during or between back-to-back measurements.

Your strong emotional response to something can affect your measurement results.

Why are some of my metrics highlighted in gray?

It often happens with inaccurate measurements, so the first thing to do is to check measurement accuracy: if the quality is below 95%, take another measurement.

If the accuracy is high, the gray color means that the metric’s value is way out of the normal range, which is a rare case. It can be caused by your body’s and nervous system’s individual peculiarities, or be a sign of a lack of physical activity or an illness.

It may be a good idea to monitor your state and measurement results for a while, and seek professional advice if necessary.

How do I know what affects my measurement results?

The easiest way is to connect sources providing data about your activities, sleep, nutrition, location, etc.

Welltory will help you store all information about your lifestyle in one place. And, if there is enough data and a consistent correlation between particular metrics, you’ll see it on charts. For example, you can find out that the temperature outside affects your focus. Or that your evening walks boost your morning energy levels.

With Welltory getting data about your lifestyle, analyzing your heart rate variability, and finding correlations, you’ll be able to monitor what and how affects you.

If you want to know how your body will react to a particular action or event, you can take measurements before and after such action or event, adding a corresponding tag in between. That way, you can easily track your body’s responses — and get back to this information whenever you want.

How can I improve a particular metric?

We recommend monitoring general trends rather than focusing on individual metrics in a particular measurement’s results.

Different metrics are accurate and reproducible to different extents. Some of them can change pretty easily, affected by even the tiniest fluctuations in your breathing or body position, or such external factors as the time of day. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the big picture, i.e. Stress, Energy, and Health scores, rather than one-time surges or drops in numbers.

If you’re concerned with a certain metric being out of the normal range for a while, try to adjust your habits or lifestyle, or think about consulting a healthcare professional. And the other way round: if your metrics improve, you’re probably moving in the right direction.

If you find our scientifically-based recommendations on how to improve your well-being insufficient, you can use the knowledge on how your metrics change to find other options to improve them. For instance, if your measurement results consistently show high stress, you can try different ways to lower it: for one person, boxing may turn out to be helpful, and for another — it will be swimming; some people may need more sleep, and others — longer walks. Trying various options and taking measurements to track their effects will help you understand what works for you personally and what doesn’t.

Based on your measurement results, tags, and other data from your connected sources, you’ll get educational materials to your feed related to stress, productivity, sleep, meditations, breathing practices, etc.

And you can always find more information and recommendations in the web app.

Note that Welltory is not a medical app. Welltory heart rate variability readings are not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and the app’s recommendations cannot be used as medical instructions.

Can Welltory identify a malfunction in my body or prevent a disease?

Welltory is not a medical app. It does not provide medical recommendations or make diagnoses. To identify health problems, find causes, and get treatment, you should seek professional medical advice.

What is Welltory for then? It helps you monitor your body’s general state. Taking regular heart rate variability measurements, you’ll be able to see gradual or abrupt changes in your metrics, pay attention in time, and take necessary steps. For example, adjust your daily routine: spend more time walking, exercising, sleeping. Or consult a healthcare professional, if the metrics continue to get worse. And if your measurement results get better — appreciate the effectiveness of a particular approach to changing your lifestyle.

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