how do garmin watches measure stress

Garmin watch owners might have an important question to ask: how do Garmin watches measure stress?

Knowing that is necessary so you can trust the Garmin watch readings.

Garmin watches measure stress with a sensor that reads your wrist’s pulse as long as it is fitted correctly. The longer a person uses the watch and uses the stress measure feature, the more accurate readings will be.

The above is just a summary of how Garmin watches measure stress.

If you want to get deep into it, so you have enough knowledge to evaluate how your Garmin is acting for you, keep reading below.

How Do Garmin Watches Measure Stress?

how does garmin measure stress

If you’ve bought a Garmin watch released in the past few years, odds are it has a stress measurement feature. 

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Once you check it out, a few questions might pop into your head: is it accurate? How does Garmin measure stress?

Should you take high-stress levels on the watch as a sign that visiting a doctor is necessary?

But first, let’s enter into the details so you can understand how the gadget works and why you can trust it.

How Stress Measurement Works

Since watches are always on our wrists, they have easy access to our pulses.

So if you’ve ever found yourself in an emergency, it is possible that someone trained (a doctor or nurse) checked your heart rate by simply putting their thumb on your wrist. 

A similar logic applies here.

The stress levels of people who use Garmin watches are determined using heart rate variability (HRV). 

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What Is Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

what is hrv

The difference in time between heartbeats is a measure of HRV. Then, it keeps tabs on the duration’s evolution across time. 

Interbeat intervals are shorter during stress and lengthened under relaxation.

Your body’s reaction to environmental stimuli may be deduced from analyzing the time it takes for one heartbeat to complete.

How The Value Is Established

Firstbeat Analytics provides the algorithm that Garmin employs to track and evaluate HRV.

The watch measures your resting heart rate variability to establish a baseline. 

The program then evaluates the current value compared to the resting value to ascertain whether you are stressed or calm. 

While you’re active and exercising, Garmin doesn’t consider this variability data to make sure any shifts in HRV are related to stress and not the activity.

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Is There Any Flaw To It?

is there any flaw

It is important to note that this stress analysis does have one major flaw.

The measure may be used to identify periods of increased stress. Still, it cannot identify the root causes of that stress. 

To figure out which circumstances cause you stress and which don’t, you have to try to correlate your stress level with life occurrences.

Common Mistakes Of The Stress Measurement

Physical activity, such as sports or workouts, may also measure stress.

Several errors have been made because of that. Intense sessions of exercise can be indicated as “stressful” situations. 

The more you use your Garmin, the more accurate it will get at monitoring your stress level, which means it can lower the overall rating. 

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To avoid mistakes, ensure the watch fits correctly if your stress levels are always higher than they should be. 

The Watch Is Not A Diagnostic Tool

watch not a diagnostic tool

Indicators of the need for a trip to the doctor include a persistently elevated heart rate.

However, it is crucial to remember that Garmin is not a diagnostic instrument, although it may alert you to developing health issues.

How To Read Stress Levels

Garmin uses a stress scale from 0 to 100, with 0 signifying a state of deeply relaxing and 100 denoting worrisome stress levels. 

During the day, Garmin monitors your stress level. It classifies it into four categories (rests, low, med, and high) to give you an overall stress score at the end of the day. 

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What Is A Good Level?

what is a good level

According to the manufacturer and experts, owners of Garmin watches should try to keep their stress levels between 25 and 50.

That indicates that you are active and facing difficulties as you go about your day.

If you’re under moderate stress, it’s normal for your stress level to climb beyond 50.

Waiting in traffic or having a very important meeting can be stressful activities that might raise your heart rate, for example. 

A stress level over 75 can be problematic. However, it is normal for it to happen at certain times.

On the other hand, if it is something very frequent, it could mean you must visit a cardiologist or a shrink (if you feel nervous about daily situations).

Is The Reading Accurate?

is the reading very accurate

The fact is that Garmin watches have an excellent way of measuring stress.

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Thus the level of stress indicated is pretty accurate. If the watch is showing constant high-stress levels, you do have to worry. 

Garmin’s stress score is calculated using the watch’s heart rate sensor information. So the more often you use the watch, the more precisely it can measure your stress levels. 

To obtain the most accurate readings, you should even wear the watch to bed to establish a resting baseline. 

How To Fit Properly

Ensure your watch has a good fit all around so the heart rate monitor can get an accurate reading.

It should be snug enough so that it doesn’t move but not so tight that the watch cuts into your skin, as recommended by Garmin.

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Remember that the Garmin heart rate monitor is not as precise as a specialized heart rate variability instrument, even under ideal settings. 

How To Use Garmin Stress Tracking

how use garmin for stress tracking

If you have a Garmin watch that has stress tracking, you do not have to do anything to allow it to track your stress levels.

The watch will show you your average stress levels at the end of the day. You can also check it momentarily to know how your stress levels are.

Here is how you can check your stress rate on a Garmin watch:

  1. Swipe up/down to find the stress level widget
  2. Tap the screen to see a graph of the past hours

The graph will show bars with different colors. Here is what they mean:

  • Blue – periods of rest;
  • Yellow – periods of stress;
  • Grey – too much activity to determine correctly.
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Use The Garmin Connect App

use a garmin connect app

While the watch shows some interesting data, you can find even more on the Garmin Connect App. 

  1. Download the Garmin Connect App
  2. Enter your Garmin credentials
  3. Tap on the two bars (Android)/More (iOS)
  4. Choose Health Stats
  5. Tap on Stress

The app can show you all the following:

  • Daily timeline
  • Daily averages
  • Daily breakdown of stress values

Set Up Stress Alerts

set up the stress level alerts

If you’d like, you can configure your Garmin watch to alert you when you reach certain stress levels.

However, remember that the watch could interpret some intense activity levels as stress when it is not well calibrated to your lifestyle.

  1. Press the watch’s side button;
  2. Select “Settings”;
  3. Tap “User Profile.”;
  4. Find the “Stress Tracking”;
  5. Select “Stress Level.”;
  6. Select the option to set a stress threshold;
  7. Select which threshold should trigger an alert.
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After selecting the threshold, it is time to allow stress alerts:

  1. Go back to the main menu;
  2. Select “Settings”;
  3. Select “System”;
  4. Click on “Alerts”;
  5. Find the “Stress Level” section 
  6. Toggle the switch to turn on stress alerts;

Use Relaxation Techniques

use the relaxation techniques

A few Garmin watches include a widget with relaxation techniques. Those are helpful when you check that your stress levels are too high.

Here is how you can find them when necessary:

  1. Press the watch’s side button;
  2. Scroll down to “Relax” 
  3. Press the button to select it.

A few options will show up:

  • Relax breathing
  • Body scan
  • Yoga
  • Stress score
Tip: Such a tool is very helpful for people who get anxiety or panic attacks daily.

What We Learned

How do Garmin watches measure stress? The measure stress feature uses a pulse sensor with software that interprets the wrist’s pulse beats.

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It then tells the user if stress levels are high or acceptable based on a 0-100 scale.

Nicole B