From January to April 2020, the resting heart rate of Indians has improved - showing a drop for the general population, and even more so for younger users. On an average resting heart rate dropped by 2.56 beats per minute in female users aged between 18-29 and 2.35 beats per minute in male users aged between 18-29, which may not sound like a lot, but is a statistically significant change, shows Fitbit data.
Resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when still at rest. This metric can be an important indicator of fitness level and overall heart health. Not only can it be used to track fitness level, but it can also alert about potential health issues such as illness, high stress levels, sleep deprivation, dehydration, overtraining, and underlying medical conditions.
According to the fitness tracking brand, two important trends that could be contributing to the decline in resting heart rate for Fitbit users from January to April are an increase in sleep duration and decrease in bedtime variability.
"The average sleep duration in India increased by 13.81 minutes. This is great news, especially because not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on resting heart rate. Not getting enough sleep is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
"During normal times, people (particularly young people) tend to go to bed later on the weekends, often leading to social jet lag, which can impact heart health. Not only are people going to bed earlier on the weekends since they are no longer going out, but they are also going to bed later on weekdays, leading to more consistent bedtime. Our data shows that Indians reduced their bedtime variability by 7.7 minutes," Fitbit said.
With many Indians still staying and working from home, and daily schedules constantly changing given Unlock 1.0 guidelines, the impact of COVID-19 on the overall wellness of Indians shows that even though step count has gone down, heart health has improved.
As per the brand, younger users from many other countries experienced the largest decline in resting heart rate and, across age groups, India, Spain, Mexico, France, and Singapore saw the biggest improvements.
The population of Sweden, a country that did not have a shelter -in-place lockdown enforced, did not experience resting heart rate improvements, while most age groups in Australia experienced smaller or no improvements when compared with other countries.
Calling these findings encouraging, Fitbit said it is happy to see users adapting their behavior and still prioritizing their health and fitness.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)