HeartRate + moves beyond your typical heart rate monitor app by adding in breathing exercises designed to lower your heart rate and lower your stress level. HeartRate+ works just like your typical iPhone-based heart rate monitor. You place your finger on the camera on the back of the device and allow the app to calculate your heart rate. While the app is recording your heart rate, you are supposed to breathe slowly and rhythmically using the visual guide in the app.
If you are performing the breathing exercises properly, the app claims you should see your heart fluctuate slightly, increasing when you inhale and decreasing when you exhale in a principle called coherence. The app graphs this variation in heart rate and calculates your coherence score. The higher the coherence score, the better you are breathing.
I'm not sure I buy into the whole coherence theory of breathing, but it is well known that deep breathing techniques will lower your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure and relieve stress. This is where the HeartRate+ app excels. It guides you through some basic breathing techniques and allows you to see the positive effect on your heart rate.
You have to be patient with the app and keep your finger still as any movement will throw off the heart rate measurements. If you can get a comfortable position and have a few minutes to spare, then the breathing techniques really work well to help you relax.
You can download HeartRate + for US$4.99 from the iOS App Store.