HRV metric feature only recently appeared in Garmin watches. Currently, you can find HRV status bar on the Garmin Forerunner 945 watch or participate in the Garmin Beta program and have the Garmin HRV status bar on Garmin Fenix 6, 7, Enduro, and other newer Garmin watches.
But when a new official software version comes out, you should automatically get an update with it and the HRV status widget.
HRV status widget on Garmin watches appeared only now on, but HRV as a metric has been used for quite a long time. Researchers say HRV data can reflect a person’s biological age.
“There is a well-established link between age and HRV, with adecrease in HR for increasing age with younger individuals demonstrating higher values.“ Nunan D, Sandercock GR, Brodie DA. A quantitative systematic review of normal values for short-term heart rate variability in healthy adults. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2010; 33: 1407–1417.
It is a very useful tool to monitor the body’s response to stress and rest. Therefore, in the following article, I will explain in more detail what HRV is and how to use it in Garmin watches.
What is HRV?
The HRV measures how well your body can take on the strain. A higher HRV indicates that your autonomic nervous system is in greater balance. Higher HRVs are better than lower ones because your body can take on more strain and not compromise recovery. The HRV is an individual metric that may depend on your age, gender, physical condition, etc.
Knowing that HRV is highly individualized, you need to find your baseline. Your baseline may differ from other people, it may be lower or higher, it does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with you.
When you know your baseline HRV, you can monitor your body with it. For example, if you have been exercising very hard lately, your HRV may drop, which means you need to reduce the pace of your exercise. Also, a sudden drop in HRV metric can be caused by an illness or a cold.
- Higher HRV than usual (but not abnormal high) – This may mean that your body is well rested, hydrated, and relaxed.
- Lower HRV than usual – It indicates that your body is under more stress.
Below I will provide a graph showing the average HRV levels between ages. But I will mention again that your HRV level may differ significantly from the average, as this metric is very individual and may differ for each person. Therefore, it is more important to pay attention to changes in HRV between days.
HRV on Garmin watches
Garmin watches use the Elevate HR sensor located on the back. This is the same sensor that calculates the Heart Rate. HRV metric you can find on the watch as well as in the Garmin Connect program.
There is a list of which Garmin watches support the HRV status bar. But if you have a Garmin Fenix 6 watch, don’t worry. With the latest update, you get the HRV status widget as well.
No data in HRV widget
To set your Baseline, you must sleep with your Garmin watch for approximately 3 consecutive weeks. After that, Garmin software will determine what your Baseline HRV is.
Below is the official Garmin explanation video, where they explain what is HRV is and how it works under stress usage widget. But there is no information about HRV status because it just came out recently. Therefore, in the following paragraph, I will cover this.
Garmin HRV Status meanings
When you sleep with your watch for 3 weeks, you will get data on the HRV widget like in the picture below.
This is my HRV data. As you can see, my HRV status is currently unbalanced, probably because I recently had some late nights and intense pieces of training. And yes, I should better rest for some time now.
- Low HRV – Low HRV indicates that your body is stressed for some reasons like – stress, fatigue, dehydration, sick, and you should better rest.
- Unbalanced HRV (low) – That also means that your body is under stress. It can also be because of stress, fatigue, and dehydration. It is better to rest until you are in Balance mode.
- Balanced HRV – That means that your body is in balanced/stable condition.
- Unbalanced HRV (high) – High unbalanced HRV can mean that you are overtraining your body, especially if you do a lot of low-intensity training like weight lifting, jogging, and swimming.
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HRV is an excellent metric to determine how your body copes with stress and other related challenges. I am delighted that Garmin added this functionality to their watches.
I hope I cover well things about HRV status on Garmin watches. If you have suggestions or questions, you can leave them in the comment section.