Track your resting heart rate with a Garmin Fenix 3 watch

An activity tracker like the Garmin Fenix 3 allows you to know your resting heart rate

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High resting heart rate is correlated with higher mortality risk. This means the faster your heart beats at rest, the most likely you will have high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular hospitalization, poor blood circulation, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and overall higher all-cause mortality.

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I have been using a Garmin Fenix 3. The watch, amongst other features, shows your daily resting heart rate (RHR) as well as its weekly history. I observe that stress, intense exercise, cold, sickness increase resting heart rate. In this case, I do yoga, meditation, active recovery, and make sleep a priority.

This feature from Garmin Fenix 3 is worth alone the price of the watch. Its battery lasts for several weeks, as opposed to other wearables such an Apple Watch or an Android Wear. Their short battery (1 to 2 days) are very distracting.

How reliable is the Garmin’s optical heart rate monitor? When compared with a chest heart rate monitor (Garmin HMR-Run or Wahoo TICKR X), its integrated sensor is fairly reliable at rest or during light exercise. This makes it ideal for 24/7 heart rate tracking, while chest heart rate monitors are for running and other intense exercise.

Many other watches from Garmin offer the same functionality, such as the excellent Vivoactive HR and will allow to track this vital metric. Fitbit, Polar, TomTom and others also have devices with included heart rate monitor, although I cannot recommend without direct experience. Other devices which take one single measure every day such as a Fitbit Aria, a BP monitor or Withings electronic scale are not recommended since it will be highly dependent on the time of measure.

As a final note, the Garmin Fenix can also measure HRV. It is called Stress Score and takes 1 minute in standing position. This is a nice feature to estimate if you should push hard in intensity today or rather dial back.

Recommendation:

  • Get a Garmin Fenix 3 or a similar device to track your RHR
  • Act accordingly if you observe high resting heart rate. Consulting a health professional is recommended.
  • Activity and Intense activity increases resting heart rate the same day and in the following days but will overall decrease RHR.
  • Use caution when using a device like the Garmin Fenix 3. You could be perfectly fine with a high resting heart rate. You could be at risk with a low resting heart rate. Use, analyze, and assess relevance to your health situation. Listen to your body and what health professionals are saying.

Reference:

  • Ariel Diaz, Martial G. Bourassa, Marie-Claude Guertin, Jean-Claude Tardif. Long-term prognostic value of resting heart rate in patients with suspected or proven coronary artery disease. European Heart Journal, March 2005: 967-974
  • Tomonori Okamura, MDa, , , Takehito Hayakawa, PhDb, Takashi Kadowaki, MDa, Yoshikuni Kita, PhDa, Akira Okayama, MDc, Paul Elliott, FRCPd, Hirotsugu Ueshima, MD. Resting heart rate and cause-specific death in a 16.5-year cohort study of the Japanese general population. American Heart Journal. Volume 147, Issue 6, June 2004, Pages 1024–1032
  • E. Kristal-Boneh, H. Silber, G. Harari, P. Froom. The association of resting heart rate with cardiovascular, cancer and all-cause mortality. Eight year follow-up of 3527 male Israeli employees. European Heart Journal. 116-124  2 January 2000
  • Rainer Kolloch, Udo F. Legler, Annette Champion, Rhonda M. Cooper-DeHoff, Eileen Handberg, Qian Zhou, Carl J. Pepine. Impact of resting heart rate on outcomes in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease: findings from the INternational VErapamil-SR/trandolapril STudy. European Heart Journal. 29 March 2008

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