June 7, 2020: Wearables product leader, Fitbit, has shared data insights about its users globally from January to April 2020 which showed that Indians’ resting heart rate has improved which implies that it has dropped – for the general population, skewing more so for younger users. On an average resting heart rate dropped by 2.56 beats per minute in female users aged 18 through 29 and 2.35 beats per minute in male users aged 18 through 29, which may not sound like a lot, but is a statistically significant change.
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.
With many people still staying and working from home, and our daily schedule constantly changing given Unlock 1.0 guidelines, Fitbit wanted to observe the impact of COVID-19 on the overall wellness of Indians.
To better understand how Fitbit users’ lifestyle behaviour may be impacting resting heart, Fitbit took a deeper look at measures like sleep time and bedtime variability. After all, at a time when people are largely stuck indoors, we’ve seen that physical activity – like average step count – has declined, which could lead to an increase in resting heart rate. However, we are seeing the opposite, though, which is great news, but we knew there had to be more factors at play here.
Two important trends that could be contributing to the decline in resting heart rate for our users from January to April:
- Sleep duration increased: 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.
- Bedtime variability decreased: 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.
What we discovered is encouraging. We also looked at international data, which saw similar trends.Younger users from many 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.