How Fit Are You? Take the 2 Minute Heart Rate Recovery Test

Heart rate recovery is a great way to assess your fitness level; the quicker your heart rate recovers, the more fit your heart and body is. It is one of those factors like Resting Heart Rate and Fitness Assessments that can tell you a lot about your body and fitness.

The original idea for the recovery had it’s roots in the Bruce Protocol, which basically takes a short but stressful treadmill test and was able to see a correlation between how fast the heart recovered and how fit or potentially unfit the subjects cardiovascular system.

We’ve found over the years that endurance or low effort activities have very different recovery rates. We enjoy measuring our recovery after a good hard workout, but for general informational purposes only. See below for a sample test and generalized results using the 2 minute recovery from Enhanced Medical Care.

Running the Heart Rate Recovery In-App Feature

When your workout is paused (while wearing a heart rate monitor), instead of tapping End Workout, tap Recovery.

Fitdigits will begin a 2:00 minute countdown.

Stop your activity and focus on breathing, relaxing and bringing your heart rate down. Take long (slow) deep breaths, breath through your nose and relax. Watch your recovery on the chart which will show how many beats your heart rate has slowed since the start of the recovery period.

Heart Rate Recovery

2 minute heart rate recovery

After 2 minutes, Fitdigits apps will display your recovery results including the percent of recovery by minutes. In the example, my heart rate recovered 15% or 20 beats per minute in the first minute, only halfway through recovery. By the end of the recovery, my heart rate was down to 105, a total drop of 28 BPM, or 21%. These results generally show a healthy recovery. According to the test published below, that puts me in the “Your biological age is about the same as your calendar age” category. I’ll take that, but try to improve as well.


Enhanced Medical Care Heart Rate Recovery Test

Enhanced Medical Care offers a good guide to a healthy recovery:

Age Target Zone 2-Zone 3
20-29 120-160
30-39 114-152
40-49  108-144
50-59  102-136
 60-69  96-128
 70-79  90-120
 80-89  84-112
90-99 78-104
100+ 72-96
Click here to see our rant on how off 220-Age can be for heart rate zones, and how to make them better with Fitness Assessments.

Do any exercise you want to until you hit Zone 2 through Zone 3 (60%-80%), that is your Target BPM before starting recovery. Then tap/swipe for pause, then tap Recovery.

Subtract your 2-minute heart rate from the heart rate you took immediately after exercising. The faster your heart rate recovers (or slows down ) the fitter and healthier your heart.

If the difference between the two numbers is:

< 22 BPM Your biological age is slightly older than your calendar age.
22-52 BPM Your biological age is about the same as your calendar age.
53-58 BPM Your biological age is slightly younger than your calendar age.
59-65 BPM Your biological age is moderately younger than your calendar age.
66+ BPM  Your biological age is a lot younger than your calendar age.


Heart Rate Recovery Improved My Fitness

User Testimonial, by Jeff A.

I purchased Fitdigits for the most unlikely of reasons. It wasn’t to track my fitness, but to have a discussion with my primary care physician. Even though I am an active cyclist there are some things that can really slow me down. I became especially concerned when climbing several flights of stairs caused my heart rate to zoom up to the point where I would have to stop and wait for it to come back down. Surely, I thought that there must be something wrong with me, but how would I show this to my doctor? Then I thought, what about a chart showing the minute-by-minute changes of my heart rate. This is when I first used Fitdigits.

Not much heart rate recovery. Dec 2011

By the way, my doctor’s reaction was: “Don’t worry. You’re fine.”

Since I had purchased this fancy heart monitor, I figured I might as well use it for its intended purpose. I began to track my heart rate during my weekly spin classes and I now have over a year’s worth of data available to review.

For the first year, the only number I really looked at was the number of total calories burned. I wondered, “how hard was I working?” I wanted to challenge myself to work a little harder during class.

Showing recovery improvement. Jan 2012

This year I have been paying more attention to my heart rate. Recently I started a set of cycling classes led by a certified triathlete coach. During the first session, she conducted a lactate threshold test to determine each rider’s limits (watts and heart rate) which she structured the entire class around. For the first time in my life, I now have reliable data about what my thresholds are and I am being challenged to excel past those limits in very well structured workouts. I never knew I could get my heart rate so high and still live.

Further improvement. Feb 2012

I have to admit, that when I signed up for these classes I did not know what to expect. I did not exactly know how the workouts would benefit me, but I knew that I had to work hard. Thanks to Fitdigits, I have my answer about the benefits.

Take a look at the four images I have attached. The earliest, from 12/14/2011 is pretty typical for my spin classes over the past year. My heart rate would go up and stay up for the entire class. Now, look at the other three pictures, which are more recent. You begin to see that for the first time my heart rate is beginning to recover during intervals (not just at the end). The amount of recovery has been improving weekly. This has been extremely encouraging.

Drastic improvement. NICE interval recovery!! Feb 2012

Thank you, Fitdigits. I now go into my training and spin classes determined to work even harder.

Oh, and about the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Each of those images is worth about a thousand calories.

I’m 75 and Still Riding Strong

Testimonial by Al B, cyclist.

Ah yes, it is a marriage made in technology heaven! Here I am a graphic designer with Macs as my central nervous system and the iPhone as my right hand gadget. Therefore, being a bicycle and fitness enthusiast, it all comes together using the Fitdigits Cycling Bundle.

Heart Rate Monitor – Most Valuable Training Tool
I regard the heart rate monitor as the most valuable training tool. I alternate between a road bike and a mountain bike from day to day. I like to see the differences in the metrics of my body’s effort between the two different bikes.

Fitdigits and the iPhone
I’ve owned and used other fitness monitors, but Fitdigits gives me all the conveniences of the iPhone AND all the data I could ever wish for while bicycling…cardio, speed, cadence, elevation, averages, my music, seeing where I’ve been on a Google map, and much more. The graphical interface on the screen is well laid out and manageable. On top of that, I like that I can email this data back to my computer.

My Data

I can view either the graph superimposed on my heart rate zones screen, or observe the actual HR number, or when my eyes are glued to the road, hear the voice prompts when entering or leaving a zone.

Fitdigits beckons me everyday to get on my bike, get out there and explore my capabilities with certainty. My big favorite is that it guides me to stay in my proper heart rate zone. Riding in my “performance zone,” allows me to improve in strength and endurance. In addition, Fitdigits offers just the right incentive to keep me going and it’s that consistency of exercise that is the real payoff.

Fitdigits helps me observe and measure my growth. I can assess all data as a total picture of my performance after a ride. I can compare from one day to the next my two most vital stats: the DURATION I’m in my HR target zone and my average MPH.

Over time, viewing the data each day on each bike, Fitdigits teaches me how my body will react with these bikes… or what I can expect riding them. It helps me translate my effort on each bike through evaluating real quantitative results. And, it’s just plain fun. It’s like looking at all the gauges of your race car’s engine. In other words, Fitdigits has helped improve my performance IQ…I’m smarter about my riding and avoid over training.

Endurance and Fitness Level
Lastly, I can track my recovery rate by how quickly my BPM drops in a minute after a ride. The more it drops in that minute, the better condition I’m in. That’s a real gauge of heart fitness.

In life, if we are not being smart about having fun, we are doing something wrong. Fitdigits is smart. Fitdigits is fun. Fitdigits is right. Take it from me, a seventy-five year old cyclist with a lot of miles in the saddle… and, now a lot of data to play with.