January 22, 2020 at 11:26PM by CWC

“A wakeup call.” That’s what What the Wellness host Ella Dove dubbed her heart rate monitor in our latest episode. We called it in our 2020 trends: This year, more than ever before, your health will be in the palm of your hands (and on your wrist). Thanks to new innovations in wearable technology, we can now track everything from our sleep to our menstrual cycles. But though our wearables have leveled up from run-of-the-mill step counters (I mean, you can now use your FitBit to pay for your coffee), the OG metric that they set out to track from the beginning—your heart rate—is still the most important one of all.

To show us why, Dove tested an Apple Watch ($399) over the course of a month—and during three very different fitness classes—to see what it would tell her about her fitness levels.  But why is this intel worth keeping track of, in your workouts and beyond? “In general, your heart rate gives you an overall picture of your health and wellbeing, and tells you how good your cardiovascular fitness is,” says cardiologist Jennifer Haythe, MD. And one metric worth watching, in addition to your maximum and average hart rate, is your heart rate variability.

Heart rate variability (or “HRV”) measures the specific changes, in milliseconds, in the time between two successive heart beats. “People whose heart rates are faster are gong to have a lower HRV, because their hearts will be going very fast so the distance between beats will be the same,” explains Dr. Jenn. Whereas people who are very relaxed and their heart rates are very slow, they may have a slight, subtle difference in the beat to beat differences.” The higher your HRV, the better, which makes sense: people who are generally relaxed—aka less stressed out all the time—tend to have better cardiovascular health overall.

So what did Dove learn by having this particular data within her reach? Watch the video above to find out how to get smart with your tracking.

Heart rate monitors aren’t the only cool wellness tech Dove has tested out lately: Here’s what she thought of a futuristic biohacking workout. And if you’re planning a trip to Brooklyn anytime soon, don’t miss her favorite wellness spots in Williamsburg.

Author Zoe Weiner | Well and Good
Selected by CWC

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