In addition to fitness tracking, the Garmin vívosmart 3 introduces Firstbeat’s All-day Stress monitoring to millions of people around the world. Learning why stress monitoring is important and the science behind it will help you make the most of this exciting new possibility.
Update August 2017: All-day stress monitoring is also available on the newly released Garmin vívoactive 3 smartwatch, vívomove HR touchscreen hybrid smartwatch; and vívosport GPS-enabled activity tracker. It is also now available on the Garmin Forerunner 935 and fēnix 5 series devices.
Bringing Stress into Focus
Stress is an important and necessary part of life. Achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle doesn’t mean avoiding stress. In fact, it is the experience of stress that prompts your body to grow stronger, become more resilient, and ultimately to flourish. When it comes to stress, management is the key.
Managing stress, however, isn’t always easy. Complicating matters is the fact that stress is simultaneously a physiological phenomenon and a subjective experience. Stress happens, but we don’t always notice it – and we shouldn’t always notice it. At their core, stress responses are often linked to solving problems, preparing for flight or fight, survival. In these moments, introspection can do more harm than good.
Research shows that men and women, alike, struggle to identify stress consistently. Even when we are aware of stress, it isn’t always easy to talk about. For many, acknowledging stress and its impacts is tantamount to admitting weakness, confessing to a failure to cope.
Looking at stress from a physiological perspective sidesteps the problem of stress perception. It means being able to account for stress that exists, not just stress that you notice. It also provides a scientific foundation for making better everyday lifestyle decisions that support your health and well-being.
The Science of All-day Stress Monitoring
To scientifically measure and track stress, the Garmin Vivosmart 3 relies on the Firstbeat analytics engine to interpret how your heart is beating from one moment to the next. Validated and improved over the course of a decade, Firstbeat’s stress measurement analysis has been utilized in over 200,000 Lifestyle Assessments conducted by health, fitness, and lifestyle professionals.
Beat-to-beat changes in your heart, known as heart rate variability, hold a wealth of information about what’s going on inside your body. With the right approach, these small changes, measured in milliseconds, can be transformed analytically into an observation window for monitoring autonomic nervous system activity. Through this window you can witness the interplay between the the fight or flight (sympathetic) and the rest and digest (parasympathetic) systems, as they work in tandem, responding to the challenges of life and environment.
Your Own Better Path
Lifestyle and stress management advice is everywhere and it isn’t always particularly helpful. “Here’s what you should do,” they say, “this is what you should eat, and how you should exercise to manage stress.” Follow closely for a while and you’ll start to notice there is a lot of conflicting information out there.
One of reason is because you are you, and what works for somebody doesn’t necessarily work for everybody. All-day Stress tracking means skipping the mediator and getting straight to discovering what works best for you.
High-stress levels in the evening before bedtime? Experiment. Find your own solution. Try switching over to a talk show, instead of watching prestige dramas on HBO or binge watching Netflix. You can even turn off the TV entirely to see how indulging in a book will influence your stress patterns.
When it comes to stress, little things make a big difference. Direct feedback based how you experience the world at a physiological level makes it easier to find problem areas and make the right changes. The continuous nature of All-day Stress monitoring is a real game changer in the struggle to ensure that lifestyle changes made are lifestyle changes kept.
You can read more about the Firstbeat features in Garmin vívosmart 3.
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Heart rate variability (HRV) is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats. The level of HRV varies a lot between individuals, but in general terms, high HRV is viewed as a marker of good fitness and health.