Image source: Withings

Walking into a healthier heart: The Withings study

World Heart Day is a worldwide reminder of the significance of cardiovascular health. However, the emphasis is frequently on daytime activities, leaving the importance of nighttime heart rate (NHR) in the shadows. Withings, based in France, hopes to change this narrative. Their recent study offers a compelling look at how our hearts behave when we’re off the clock, so to speak.

The study: A global lens on heart health

Withings conducted an extensive study involving 161,239 users of their ScanWatch, aged between 18 and 70, across the US, UK, Germany, and France. The study spanned a year, from 2022 to 2023, and aimed to explore the relationship between daytime activity and NHR.

The findings are eye-opening. The study revealed that individuals who accumulated over 10,000 steps daily exhibited a nighttime heart rate that was 4.74 beats per minute lower compared to those who managed fewer than 5,000 steps. Essentially, the results showed – the more steps you take, the more favourable your NHR becomes.

Check out the chart below.

Withings study

Methodology: The science behind the numbers

The study divided participants into two groups: sedentary (less than 5,000 steps per day) and active (more than 10,000 steps per day). To ensure the scientific validity of the results, several variables were considered, including recent BMI measurements, gender, and age. The data was then stratified, with a focus on people aged 30 to 70, to provide a comprehensive picture of the impact of activity levels on NHR.

Why nighttime heart rate is important

The standard metric for assessing cardiovascular health is resting heart rate. NHR, on the other hand, can provide a more nuanced picture. It measures the heart rate in a more relaxed state, providing insight into the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates the heartbeat. A higher NHR can indicate a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Professor Pierre Escourrou, a cardiologist and sleep physician, emphasises the significance of NHR as an indicator of cardiovascular health. He believes that an elevated NHR may indicate underlying problems such as high blood pressure or kidney damage. He recommends practising healthy sleep hygiene, such as avoiding alcohol before bedtime and engaging in daytime exercise, to optimise NHR.

The power of steps: A simple solution

Walking, according to the Withings study, is a simple yet effective strategy for improving NHR. The more steps you take during the day, the lower your nighttime heart rate. It’s a simple equation, but one that has potential to provide significant health benefits.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets 

In line with their commitment to advancing connected health, the company has recently launched Scanwatch 2. The newly released device is not just a step counter; it’s a full-fledged health monitoring system wrapped around your wrist. Alongside this, the Body Scan scale has made its debut in the U.S. market following its EU/UK debut late last year. To round off these advancements, Withings has also overhauled its smartphone app, elevating the user interface and experience.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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