Garmin Smartwatch Pulse Oximeter: What You Need to Know

Do you know what your oxygen saturation level is? You may not have heard of this term before, but it is something that you should be aware of. A pulse oximeter is a device that can measure your oxygen saturation level. This information can be helpful if you are concerned about your overall health. In this article, we will discuss how the Garmin Smartwatch Pulse Oximeter works and what you need to know about it!

What is Pulse Ox?

Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive method used to measure the saturation of oxygen in the bloodstream. Compatible watches use a combination of red and infrared lights with sensors on the back of the watch which can determine the percentage of oxygenated blood (SpO2%) available in your blood.

This value should, in general, be 95% or higher in most settings but can be influenced by altitude, activity, and an individual’s health. pulse oximeters are commonly used in hospitals and other medical settings to monitor patients’ oxygen saturation levels, but they are also increasingly being used by athletes and others to track their own fitness progress and recovery.

How does the Garmin Device Read Your Pulse Ox

Garmin wearables that are compatible use a combination of red and infrared lights with sensors on the back of the device. This can estimate the percentage of oxygenated blood (peripheral oxygen saturation, SpO2%) available in your blood. In most settings, this value should be 95% or higher, but it can be influenced by altitude, activity and an individual’s health.

Why is Pulse Ox Tracking Important to You

The human body has many important functions that we must take care not to disrupt or harm. One such system is the distribution of oxygenated blood throughout our bodies, which happens through a process called cardiorespiratory ology (or just ventilation).

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Being aware about how your SpO2 reacts can help you understand what’s going on with yourself and serve as an indication for changes in health status when something change occurs!

  • Pulse : This is a measure of how fast your heart is beating. Your pulse is measured in how many times your heart beats in one minute.
  • Oxygen Saturation : This is the measure of how much oxygen is in your blood. It is shown as a percentage. The number may be called SpO2% because that is the percentage of oxygen in your blood.

Scale Physical Activity : Exercise can sometimes result in shortness of breath. You can monitor your oxygen saturation with your Garmin device while exercising, so that they can adjust the pace if their oxygen saturation decreases.

You have a Cardiac Condition : Anyone with serious cardiac conditions often have low levels of SpO2. Pulse oximeters help you monitor your conditions and use supplementary oxygen when needed.

Heart Function : Pulse oximetry is to measure how well the heart is pumping oxygen through the body. This may be used to monitor the health of individuals with any type of condition that can affect blood oxygen levels.

Sleep Apnea : Anyone who snores or have sleep apnea generally have low blood oxygen levels. When ever there is an interruption in your breathing, such as choking, will result in a low blood oxygen level. Pulse oximetry can monitor your blood oxygen when sleeping and give you an indication to see if you are within a healthy range. If you are looking at purchasing Garmin device to monitor your sleep apnea, please discuss with a sleep specialist first. All Garmin devices are not to be used for medical treatment, but for recreational purposes only.

Is the Garmin Pulse Oximeter Reliable and Accurate

First of all, it is important to understand that not all pulse oximeters are created equal. There are a variety of different sensors and measuring methods available, and not all of them are equally accurate.

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Secondly, even the most accurate pulse oximeter will not be 100% reliable. Your SpO2 can be influenced by a number of factors including altitude, activity level, and an individual’s health status. This means that you should not rely on a pulse oximeter to give you a perfect reading every time.

Garmin also states that their wearable devices are not medical devices to treat or diagnose any medical conditions. It is for recreational use only.

If you are looking to buy a smart watch for it’s blood oxygen accuracy, then you are better off with buying a medical grade pulse oximeter. They would cost far less than a Garmin device. If you are okay with ball park numbers (up to 90% accuracy), then I would say it would be a great tool to help you track your blood oxygen levels.

Will the Pulse Ox drain the Battery Life

If you use Pulse Ox tracking for sleep or all-day, your battery life will be shorter. This is because different factors affect how long the battery lasts, including how often you use the tracker, what settings you have it set to, how active you are, and how well it fits your wrist.

If the battery level is too low, the continuous measurement during sleep or all-day will not start.

When Does the Garmin Device Take a Reading

The recording frequency for Pulse Ox data will depend on the settings of your watch. There are three modes to choose from: high, low, and medium.

  • Spot Check Mode : Spot Check Mode is enabled when you scroll to the Pulse Ox widget. It is used to take a SpO2 level reading at that moment. The watch will not take another reading until you navigate away from the widget and then back. If a Spot Check is performed multiple times within a 5 minute window, the average of those readings will be displayed in Connect.
  • All Day Mode : When All-Day Mode is enabled, the watch will sample your SpO2 levels every 5-15 minutes. If the watch detects a high level of movement (e.g. out for a run) it will read less often. When viewing Pulse Ox widget on the watch, you will see the average of readings for each hour. Turning on All-Day Mode will cause the watch battery to drain more rapidly.
  • Sleep Mode : Sleep Mode will read your SpO2 levels while you sleep, and it will generate readings up to every minute. Pulse Ox will be sampled during the Sleep and Wake times you set in Garmin Connect. Turning on Sleep Mode will cause the watch battery to drain more rapidly.
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Why Would Your Pulse Ox Reading can be Low

If your Pulse Oximeter reading seems low, it may not mean that you have low oxygenated blood. The position of your arm can affect the blood flow to your wrist and change the reading. Try to keep your arm in a position that allows good circulation and a reading around your heart level.


The Garmin pulse oximeter is a fantastic feature. When you understand the metrics, you can apply this data to improve your health and well being. If you are looking to buy a smart watch specifically to measure blood oxygen. It would be better to purchase a medical grade device as it would be far cheaper than a smart watch and it’s accuracy would be better. Thank you for reading