Health Hacks: How A Simple Heart Rate Test in the Morning Can Predict Your Day

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quantified self fitness orthostatic testI continue crunching my January data, and in today’s post, will discuss a simple heart rate test that I have been performing last month every morning in order to evaluate its predictive power. It’s called orthostatic test, and it is widely used by athletes to assess their physical condition after the training. All you need is a stopwatch or a heart rate measuring app (I personally used Azumio’s Instant Heart Rate app).  Here is how you perform the test. The moment you wake up, try to stay still in bed and take your pulse measurement. That would be your resting heart rate (RHR). Then get out of bed and after standing for approximately 15-30 seconds without making any sudden movements, measure your standing heart rate (SHR). Now calculate the orthostatic heart rate (OHR): OHR = SHR – RHR. If you track your OHR for several weeks, you will notice that most of the times its values stay around the same, but occasionally will go higher. Those “spikes” in OHR happen the night after you overtrain at the gym, or if you don’t get a good night rest, get sick or because of some other disturbance in your autonomic nervous system. My theory was that since OHR measures the “recovery” of the body, perhaps, by looking at OHR in the morning, I would be able to predict how I will feel later that day. My self-tracking data partially confirmed that hypothesis: the morning OHR numbers can predict physical and mental performance later in the day. 

After logging my resting and standing heart rate for a month in my rTracker, I opened data in Excel, computed OHR, and marked days with OHR of 30 and higher as high-OHR days. I then compared some other data points from my log across the normal and high-OHR days. The first thing I did was to look at my subjective measurements of physical, mental and emotional energy, which I measured every morning, afternoon, and evening, using a 10-points sliding scale in rTracker. Here is the chart of the differences in my physical energy (the data points for normal days are shown in blue, high-OHR days are in red):

Orthostatic Test Experiment by Measured Me - Physical Energy

Health Hacks by Measured Me: Can Orthostatic Test in the Morning Predict Physical Energy Later in the Day?

As you can see, my average physical energy ratings on high-OHR days tend to be lower throughout the day (differences were statistically significant for afternoon and evening scores). Further, if you chart the changes in energy throughout the day as a trendline, and then compute the rate of the changes (using SLOPE function in Excel), you can see that I am getting tired much faster on high-OHR days, compared to normal days.

The same pattern holds for my mental energy(differences were statistically significant only for afternoon scores):

Orthostatic Test Experiment by Measured Me - Mental Energy

Health Hacks by Measured Me: Orthostatic Test Predicts Mental Energy

If high OHR indeed reflects disturbances in my autonomic nervous system, these effects have been also captured by cognitive tests. I used Mind Metrics app  to test my alertness and memory in the morning and in the afternoon, and as you can see, both my reaction time and recall quality were slightly lower on high-OHR days (none of the differences were statistically significant though, but  attribute that to not having enough data points):

Orthostatic Test Experiment by Measured Me - Cognitive Scores

Health Hacks by Measured Me: Orhtostatic Test Predicts Cognitive Performance

Interestingly, there was no noticeable changes in my emotional energy, and the same was true for my mood and emotions.

There were, however, some interesting patterns for sleep. In January, I included in my log another question for tracking sleep quality: “How easy was it to get out of bed”, and the scores for this question were much lower on high-OHR days (2.4), compared to regular days (4.4). According to my Zeo, during the nights prior to high OHR mornings, I also had more REM (~14 minutes longer) and deep (~10 minutes longer) sleep.  It is as if my body was trying harder to recover on those nights!

In summary, while not all differences were statistically significant (I attribute that to not having enough data points), overall patterns suggest that if I have a higher than usual OHR in the morning, my physical and mental performance are likely to be compromised later that day. Perhaps, I should start relying on OHR test in the mornings in order to plan my days.

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10 Responses to Health Hacks: How A Simple Heart Rate Test in the Morning Can Predict Your Day

  1. Привет Константин! Замер частоты сердцебиения в момент пробуждения – отличная идея. Я уже внес в свою таблицу три новых переменных (rhr, shr и ohr). Сегодня показатели составили 66, 91 и 25. С удовольствием жду нахождения каких либо корреляций этих переменных с другими учитываемыми показателями.

  2. Measured Me says:

    Привет, Алексей! Да, я сам удивился. Вчера на Твиттере мне написали из Азумио, они разработчики приложения Instant Heart Rate, сообщили, что включили эту функцию в новую версию приложения. Обязательно напиши в блоге, если заметишь что-нибудь интересное. Ты же часто бегаешь, эффекты физических нагрузок должны проявляться.

  3. Привет, Константин! Я попробовал программу, оказывается у меня даже была когда-то куплена Instant Heart Rate. Но, видимо не разобрался как у них палец надо прикладывать, либо не считал программу интересной, поскольку вполне устраивал Adidas miCoach во время тренировок.

    Теперь же установил заново, раз пятьдесят прижимал палец, раза три замерил результат. Трудновато как-то. Неудобно. И чехол с iPhone приходится снимать для замера… С другой стороны не приходится минуту держать палец у шеи, а потом если что перепроверять… И Azumio строить симпатичный интерактивный линейный график… даже не знаю.

  4. Measured Me says:

    Что это у тебя за чехол такой, что камеру закрывает 🙂 согласен, иногда он даже не “чувствует” палец, приходится опять прикладывать. Неудобно, но легче, чем самому считать. Я подумывают взять Basis тракер или Polar, чтобы чаще измерять пульс. Вот ребята написали приложение для Полара Думаю, есть потенциал.

  5. Чехол от Magpul, из твоего теперь родного USA. Отличный милитаризованный чехол. И все же снимать его неудобно. Скорее всего буду считать сам. Минуту, другую. Не уверен, что с утра спросоню мне будет легче тыкать палец в нужное место. Я даже могу для смеха ради собрать статистику отзывчивости программы Azumio 🙂

    Basis часы нужно брать обязательно. Я пытался, но они так неопределенно обрабатывают заказ, что меня это разозлило и я отменил покупку.

    Но Basis в нашем увлечении нужны обязательно. А приведенная тобой программа для Polar, если правильно понял суть заметки, как собаке пятая нога. Ты носил во время тренировок нагрудный пояс? Я уже более полусотни тренировок носил. Но носить в течение дня… это билиберда, даже для data geek и фаната quantified self.

    PS. Где-то читал, может конечно не так понял, что следующие партии Basis будут не за 199 долларов, а что-то в районе 300.. 🙁

  6. Brian says:

    Excellent post! Somehow it is displaying all the comments in Russian though:) I also somehow stopped receiving the email newsletter a while ago. (Definitely didn’t unsubscribe.)

  7. Measured Me says:

    Hi Brian,

    I am bilingual, and Measured Me has some fans in Russia 🙂 Sorry to hear about email newsletter, have you checked your spam folder? Could also be Feedburner experiencing technical issues.

  8. Joshua Rosenblum says:

    Do you use the Azumio app’s “stand up” test (which gives you a percentage figure)? Or just do two separate HR measurements? I think the Azumio app is great but it’s got no documentation! I have no idea how the stand up test is supposed to measure hydration…

  9. Measured Me says:

    hi Joshua,

    Azumio added that test just recently (it so happened that my blog post preceded release of this feature; their research team was very surprised). The stand up test has been used by athletes for a long time to detect fatigue, but I never heard of the hydration. I will check their scientific references.

  10. WolfmanJack says:

    Do you know how the percentage “score” is calculated in the Azumio StandUp Test?

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