Skip to main content

How does Garmin measure stress?

Garmin watches are known for their robust activity tracking, but that’s not all these fitness watches can do. Over the years, the company has been adding wellness features to its lineup of watches. These new health-focused metrics allow people to analyze their fitness and identify outside factors affecting their performance. Stress is one factor that can profoundly impact not only your fitness, but also your health and well-being. We break down how Garmin measures stress and delve into the accuracy of this metric. Should you trust your stress score? Read on to find out.

Is Garmin’s stress score accurate?

A stress level reading on a Garmin fitness watch.

Garmin’s stress score is based on the heart rate data collected by the watch’s heart rate monitor. The more you wear your watch, the more accurate your stress score will be. For optimal results, you should even wear your watch overnight while sleeping to get a resting baseline. You also need to make sure your watch fits snugly to ensure the heart rate monitor is accurately recording your heart rate.

Related Videos

According to Garmin, the ideal fit is just about at your wrist bone — tight enough that it doesn’t move, but not so tight that the watch bites into your skin.

Even under optimal conditions, the Garmin heart rate monitor is not as accurate as a dedicated heart rate variability device. It is not designed to be a diagnostic tool, but is good enough for personal use. It can help you manage stress throughout the day and identify activities that cause tension.

What is a good stress level on a Garmin?

Garmin measures its stress score on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 representing a resting state and 100 indicating high stress. Garmin calculates an overall stress level for the day and breaks down your stress into four tiers (rests, low, med, and high) throughout the day. Most Garmin watch owners should aim for a low stress level of 25 to 50. This suggests you are up and about and encountering a few challenges throughout the day.

Don’t be surprised if your stress score rises above 50 if you experience some moderate stress, though. Activities like having to sit in traffic or meet with your boss will affect your heart rate and cause your stress to rise. Just try to avoid high-stress situations that cause your stress to climb above 75. Anything below 25 suggests you are resting, which is good to offset times of elevated stress.

How does a Garmin watch measure stress?

Garmin Stress level watch faces

All Garmin watches use heart rate variability (HRV) to calculate your stress level. Heart rate variability measures the amount of time between consecutive heartbeats. It then tracks how that duration changes over time.  The time between beats is shortened when you are under stress and longer when you are at rest. Analysis of this beat-to-beat duration provides insight into how your body is responding to external events.

Garmin uses an algorithm from Firstbeat Analytics to measure and then analyze this heart rate variability. The watch takes a baseline HRV measurement when you are inactive. The algorithm then compares that resting value to the current value to determine when you are stressed and when you are relaxed. To ensure changes in HRV are due to stress and not exercise, Garmin ignores this variability data when you are active and exercising.

There is one drawback to this stress analysis. The metric lets you know when you are experiencing stress but doesn’t tell you what is causing the stress. You have to do the hard work of correlating your stress level with life events to discover situations that increase stress and those that don’t.

There are some inaccuracies, though. Periods of intense physical activity can be misinterpreted as stress. Playing sports or exercising can also be calculated as stress. Although this will affect your overall rating, the more you wear your Garmin, the better it will become at tracking your stress rating.

If you find your stress level seems consistently higher than it should be, ensure the watch fits properly. If your heart rate is constantly high, it might indicate that a doctor’s visit is in order. Remember, the Garmin isn’t a diagnostic tool — but it can help you identify potential health problems before they worsen.

Editors' Recommendations

How to turn off Google Assistant
How to turn off Google Assistant

Google Assistant is one of the coolest and most helpful features in Google's suite of products, but it can be a little overbearing at times. Whether it’s answering to commands from the TV or potentially listening in to private conversations, you’ll want to tell Google Assistant to take a break sometimes.

Beyond turning off Google Assistant, there’s also plenty of ways you can customize how it interacts with you. We’ll cover everything you need to know in this guide.

Read more
How to turn your old phone into a security camera

Just because your smartphone is a couple of generations old doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use. When you get down to it, even the most outdated phone is still a palm-sized computer stuffed with advanced sensor tech. So instead of throwing it away or reselling it for less than what you paid originally, why not repurpose the device and turn your old smartphone into a security camera?

There are dozens of incredible Android and iOS apps that can transform your phone into a useful smart home fixture and surprisingly smart security camera (especially if you are willing to mount it on a wall near an outlet for power), as well as myriad low-cost accessories that can add extra functionality to your device. Below you'll find a quick roundup of the best options available, starting with Alfred.

Read more
Garmin Enduro GPS Watch boasts an incredible 65 days of battery life
garmin enduro watch 65 day battery life img 5502

Think about your average smartwatch. What kind of battery life does it have? If you're an Apple Watch user, you likely have to plug in your watch when you go to bed at night -- or at the very least, every other night. The new Garmin Enduro GPS Watch is designed to blow all other battery life out of the water with its 65-day capacity.

The Enduro GPS Watch is designed for ultra-endurance and high-performance in even the most extreme conditions, but it is specifically tailored for endurance athletes. Ultrarunners and long-distance cyclists can go for days at a time knowing their watch will keep up with them. The Enduro does this not through tremendous battery capacity, but by using a Power Glass solar charging lens to extend the battery life for up to two months through the power of the sun.

Read more