Here’s how to use an Apple Watch to ensure your heart is working as it should:
How to check your heart rate
You can check your heart rate any time using the Heart Rate app. Open the app, then wait for Apple Watch to measure your heart rate. You can also view your resting, walking, breathe, workout, and recovery rates throughout the day.
You can add the Heart Rate complication to your watch face or add the Heart Rate app to the Dock, so you can easily open the app.
Resting and walking rates are available only on Apple Watch Series 1 or later.
Receive heart rate notifications
If your heart rate remains above a chosen beats per minute (BPM) while you appear to have been inactive for a period of 10 minutes, your Apple Watch can notify you.
You can turn on heart rate notifications when you first open the Heart Rate app, or at any time later:
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
- Tap the My Watch tab, then tap Heart Rate.
- Tap Elevated Heart Rate, then choose a BPM.
Heart rate notifications are available only on Apple Watch Series 1 or later.
When Apple Watch measures your heart rate
When you use the Workout app, Apple Watch measures your heart rate continuously during the workout and for 3 minutes after the workout ends to determine a workout recovery rate.
This information, as well as other data it collects, helps Apple Watch estimate how many calories you’ve burned. In addition, Apple Watch measures your heart rate throughout the day when you’re still, and periodically when you’re walking (Apple Watch Series 1 or later). Since Apple Watch takes these background readings based on your activity, the time between these measurements will vary. Apple Watch also calculates a daily resting rate and walking average by correlating background heart rate readings with accelerometer data when sufficient background readings are available. You can control which third-party apps have access to your health data from the Health app in Sources.
Some anomalies may appear in the displayed data, resulting in occasional heart rate measurements that are abnormally high or low.
How Apple Watch measures your heart rate
The heart rate sensor in Apple Watch uses what is known as photoplethysmography. This technology, while difficult to pronounce, is based on a very simple fact: Blood is red because it reflects red light and absorbs green light. Apple Watch uses green LED lights paired with light‑sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. When your heart beats, the blood flow in your wrist — and the green light absorption — is greater. Between beats, it’s less. By flashing its LED lights hundreds of times per second, Apple Watch can calculate the number of times the heart beats each minute — your heart rate. The heart rate sensor supports a range of 30–210 beats per minute. In addition, the heart rate sensor is designed to compensate for low signal levels by increasing both LED brightness and sampling rate.
The heart rate sensor can also use infrared light. This mode is what Apple Watch uses when it measures your heart rate in the background, and for elevated heart rate notifications. Apple Watch uses green LED lights to measure your heart rate during workouts and Breathe sessions, and to calculate walking average and Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
HRV measurements aren’t available in China, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey.
For best results
Start with a good fit. Even under ideal conditions, Apple Watch may not be able to get a reliable heart rate reading every time for everybody. And for a small percentage of users, various factors may make it impossible to get any heart rate reading at all. But there are things you can do to help Apple Watch get the most consistent and best heart rate readings possible. Learn what else affects your reading.