What does the Garmin Stress Scores indicate?

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In this article we will explore what the Garmin Stress Scores indicate. 

We will also explore what Garmin is, how it measures health variables such as stress, and what can influence the scores of the Garmin stress calculator. 

We will also briefly take a look at what stress can do to your health and how you can manage stress in healthy and effective levels. 

What does the Garmin Stress Scores indicate?

Stress Scores on Garmin watches are one of the health monitoring indicators that are part of Garmin watches that allow users of the watches to determine their current level of stress based on their heart-rate variability (HRV)

Garmin watches provide a stress levels between 0-100 which indicates the following:

  • If your score is 0-25, you are in a state of rest. 
  • 26–50 indicates Low stress
  • 51–75 indicates Medium stress
  • 76–100 indicates High stress

These scores are calculated for each individual based on their Heart Rate Variability which refers to the time interval between each heartbeat of an individual. 

These scores that your Gramin watches indicate are based on all-day stress tracking your HRV so it gives you a spread of your stress trends and activity throughout the day and overtime.

When it comes to Garmin Stress Scores there is no universally acknowledged “Good” Score for stress. The HRV averages differ according to age group as well as the activity of the person. 

So the Garmin Stress scores become more of an effective tool to assess yourself and your wellbeing. 

These scores are not a diagnosis but instead the scores of the Garmin Stress Scores can help you develop an awareness of what seems to increase or decrease it. 

By developing an awareness you can learn to identify trends such as overtraining, unwell, over-stressed at work that is causing the stress. 

How does Garmin measure stress?

The Garmin stress score is based on your heart-rate, but it is not simply whether your HR is high or low, since that has more to do with how much activity you are engaged in but rather the stress scores are based on the variations in interval between heart beats.

So, Garmin watches measure stress by first measuring your heart-rate variability (HRV_, with a wrist-based heart-rate sensor throughout the day.

It then keeps track of your HRV by detecting each heart-beat and keeping track of the intervals between each beat.

It also takes into account your age group, your fitness level based on the information that you have provided, and your daily activities such as engaging in workouts that could have elevated your heartbeat. 

This is the information it adds into its own algorithm which then turns it into a stress score from 0-100 that users can use to keep track of their own stress levels.

What is HRV?

Heart Rate Variability was first described by Rev. Stephen Hales in 1773. He noted that the interval or the time between each heartbeat differs according to a person’s breathing and this mechanism appears to be under the control of our autonomic nervous system. 

When a person inhales the HRV shortens and lengthens every time a person exhales. If a person is under stress because of exercise or a particular trauma, the HRV shortens and he/she will have a low heart rate variability.

The variable length of time in between each heartbeat is regulated by the body’s autonomic nervous system- two specific body systems of the nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system and the Sympathetic nervous system. 

The former reacts to core body functions like organs, and the latter which reacts to external inputs like exercise or stressful events. The former will generally try to decrease your HR while the latter tries to increase it.

It is the tension between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system  that causes heart-rate variability.

For Example, If you become stressed, or subjected to higher external stressors, one or other side is likely to take over and cause reduced HRV, which indicates higher levels of stress. 

What does the stress score really tell you?

The Garmin stress scores that it reads on you are indicative of a few important things that can impact or affect your daily life as well as your well-being. 

If your scores are above 75, it is indicative of severe stress and requires you to immediately seek help or medical attention if you are not engaged in physical exercise that is strenuous. 

The lower your stress score, the more ready your heart is to respond to inputs such as exercising and engaging with other activities- meaning you can move out from your space to get moving. 

Your Garmin stress scores can aid you in planning your training, to identify when you’re feeling down and need to take a break, or to see whether you are ready enough to get back to engaging with your day to day demands after a body of illness. 

What affects the Garmin stress score?

While Garmin prides itself on accurate readings, you have to understand that there are some factors that can impact Garmin readings about your stress level. 

These factors include:

  • If the sensor is not working or reliable, it can cause problems or inaccurate reading. To check the accuracy of your sensor on the Garmin watch, you can check it against the readings of a doctor or professional tools used to calculate HRV. 
  • Your readings can also be disrupted if you check your measurements lying down or in other positions other than sitting straight up,
  • Consumptions of drugs and alcohol including caffeine can also cause disruption and inaccurate readings since they are recognised as depressants and stimulants respectively that can impact heart rate.
  • Exercise can also impact Garmin stress scores, levels increasing when you engage in strenuous exercise. 
  • Lifestyle and diet can also impact your stress scores, with lack of proper sleep, healthy diet, and a healthy routine can negatively impact your well being and increase stress scores. 
  • Short-term illness like a cold or the flu as well as longer-term health conditions can have an impact on the stress scores including your age. 

It is because of these multiple stressors that can impact the stress scores of the reader, it is advisable that you do not panic whenever the scores indicate high stress. 

Instead, keep a track of the activities that you engage in and determine whether it is caused by activity and make note of your normal stress score. 

To make note of your normal stress score you need to wear your garmin device both day and night  to get accurate reading and results. 

What Are the Causes of Stress?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has recognized three types of stressor:

  • routine stressors that are a result of day to day demands. 
  • sudden, disruptive changes, such as death or loss.
  • traumatic stress, which can occur due to extreme trauma caused by an assault, an environmental disaster, or war.

Common major life events that can trigger stress include:

  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Poverty
  • Bereavement and loss/death in the family
  • Family problems
  • illness
  • Environment changes
  • Relationship problems
  • Pregnancy issues or infertility
  • Changes in personal roles- eg: Parenthood
  • uncertainty 
  • Traumatic event
  • Stressful work environment
  • Phobias

What are the effects of stress?

If your stress is acute, meaning that you’ve been stressed out for a short period of time due to a small issue such as handing in a report or finishing a project before deadline, you may start to notice some of these physical signs of stress such as:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Upset stomach
  • Irritability

But when the stress becomes long-term and is not properly addressed, it can lead to physical, emotional, and mental problems such as:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Heart disease
  • Heartburn, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Fertility problems
  • Skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis

How to Manage Stress effectively?

Managing stress can be done individually as well as with assistance from a mental health professional. 

Treatments to manage stress include:

  • Self-help lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, activities, and relationships. 
  • Therapy and counselling which help people develop self awareness and also help them make lifestyle changes that can help them manage stress.
  • Meciation, though doctors will not usually prescribe medications for coping with stress, unless they are treating an underlying mental health condition that is causing the stress. 

Lifestyle changes that can help manage stress includes:

  • Exercise including engaging in breathing and relaxation medication and techniques to slow down heart rate and promote rest. 
  • Reducing the intake of alcohol, drugs, and caffeine
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables can help maintain the immune system at times of stress. 
  • Organising a daily to-do list and focusing on urgent or time sensitive tasks instead of doing everything- this involves learning how to prioritise things. 
  • Organising  schedules to give themselves time to  relax, and pursue their own interests.
  • Sharing feelings and burdens with family, friends, as well as professionals to help vent as well as gain solutions. 
  • Another thing that a person can do to manage stress is to acknowledge the signs of anxiety and depression, or lack of motivation. It is important to be mindful of any changes.
  • Taking a step back and reviewing their working conditions and demands in their workplace with their supervisor and finding ways to reduce the load of their work.


In this article we have explored what the Garmin Stress Scores indicate. 

We have also explored what Garmin is, how it measures health variables such as stress, and what can influence the scores of the Garmin stress calculator. 

We also briefly took a look at what stress can do to your health and how you can manage stress in healthy and effective levels. 

FAQ related to Garmin Stress Score

What is a good stress score on Garmin?

A good Garmin stress score would be between 26-50 when you are at a state of rest. 

Garmin’s stress levels are from  0 to 100; where,

  •  0-25 suggests a low stress level
  • 26-50 suggests a moderate stress level
  • 51-75 High stress. 
  • And 76-100 indicates extremely high stress levels

Why is my stress level so high on Garmin?

The reasons why your stress score would be higher than normal even when you are at a state of rest could be because  of being unwell, being poorly rested, being under the influence of alcohol, having over-trained, or having had a stressful day at work.

Are Garmin stress levels accurate?

Garmin readings of stress levels are as accurate as how well the sensor works and how consistent the readings are. To ensure accurate results, wearing your device both day and night over a long period of time is advisable. 

What happens if your stress level is too high?

If your stress levels are too high you will notice symptoms of stress including physical symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Upset stomach
  • Irritability


Six things I’ve learned after more than a month of wearing the Garmin Vivoactive 3. TrekSumo. Retrieved on 7th Dec 2021. https://treksumo.com/six-things-ive-learned-after-more-than-a-month-of-wearing-the-garmin-vivoactive-3/#What_is_the_Garmin_stress_score

What Is the Stress Level Feature on My Garmin Watch? Garmin. Retrieved on 7th Dec 2021. https://support.garmin.com/en-US/?faq=WT9BmhjacO4ZpxbCc0EKn9

Why stress happens and how to manage it? MedicalNewsToday. Retrieved on 7th Dec 2021. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/145855

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