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My heart rate monitor has a feature that measures my drop in heart rate over a 60 second resting period. It is suppose to just be a measure of heart fitness (the faster the drop the better your heart), but I haven't been able to come up with a consistent way to use it. Should I start just casually pedaling? Stop pedaling? Stop the bike? Get off the bike? The biggest drop I get is I get off the bike and sit down on a bench, but I'm not going for biggest, I'm just trying to figure out how I should measure it that would give me a result that I could compare to my other results and maybe compare to a chart of values and how good they are if such a chart exists.

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  • Readers note that I changed the title for clarity; the original title sounded like how to measure resting heart rate.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 11:32

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The usual recommendation is to just pedal slowly and then take the measurement. If your recovery rate is 12BPM or less, you should go see a doctor. A very fit person would recover 40+BPM. Someone who engages in regular cardio exercise would probably see recovery rates of 20+.

This is a HRM function that I use only a few times a year; like when I get back to real rides in the spring. It's probably most useful for either someone in training or a person starting out on a cardiovascular fitness program.

There's a chart on the wiki answers link.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_good_Recovery_heart_rate_level

And another: http://www.drmirkin.com/heart/8076.html

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The concept the OP was referring to is called heart rate recovery, i.e. the amount by which your heart rate drops after an effort meeting some minimum standard. I think most consumers don't need to worry about it. Note that I changed the question title because the initial version didn't clearly identify the concept being asked about.

In cardiology, heart rate recovery may be one of the metrics tracked during exercise stress testing. If so, then cardiology will have defined population norms for this and other important parameters. For patients with cardiac disease, they'll know how to interpret changes in that parameter. An exercise stress test involves monitoring heart rate and many other cardiac parameters while giving someone a gentle ramp test in a controlled setting. Exercise ramp tests have you stop when you physically can't turn the pedals; cardiac stress ramp tests probably will stop you much sooner for obvious reasons. I am not a clinician, but I'm reasonably confident that this paragraph is correct.

In exercise science, heart rate recovery (HRR) is also a possible measure of interest. It's not normally monitored as part of functional threshold power testing, although it could be. It might be an indicator of how well you have recovered from exercise overall. However, the current fashionable metric for that is heart rate variability, which you can Google if interested. It doesn't seem like HRR has gained traction.

To monitor HRR in training, you could instruct your software to generally monitor your rides for efforts where you hit your threshold heart rate, and then track the amount of decline in, say, 60 seconds. In principle, you could program your training software to do this after a threshold power test, since they have you pedal easy after the test to recover. The software platform Intervals.icu tracks this metric automatically by pulling from your Strava data. For example, in this VO2max interval session, I had a maximum one minute heart rate recovery of 28 bpm. I had 30 in this VO2max interval session a few weeks before that. However, you might be doing different interval designs from week to week, and if not, then your testing won't be at a standard interval. So there is an apples to apples issue, possibly.

If interested in monitoring recovery, I would encourage people to search for the concept of heart rate variability instead. Many wearables can monitor it. I think that it's best to monitor trends in your waking HRV, however, which my Apple Watch does not automatically monitor - I have to run the Breathe app to manually record it. Other wearables may do better at monitoring it.

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  • Fascinating - I checked closely on my heart rate and there's a definite "plateau" when I stop for a bit. strava.com/activities/10328466379/analysis/2166/2246 shows 140 BPM while riding, There's a brief flat at 125 BPM then it drops again to a low of 110 when I get moving ~60 seconds later.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 20:55

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