Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or someone with an underlying health condition, a smart watch can be an invaluable tool to help you keep track of your heart rate, blood oxygen, stress and sleep.
Most smartwatches come with some form of heart rate monitoring, although some brands offer more advanced options such as stress tracking or ECG.
Heart rate monitors on smartwatches help you keep track of your heart’s activity. They do so by measuring your resting heart rate and active heart rate, both of which vary depending on a number of factors such as age, gender, fitness level and air and body temperature.
Heart rate is an important measurement for health professionals, who use it to aid in diagnosis and follow-up of various medical conditions including heart diseases. It can also be used to assess fitness and determine how many calories you’re burning during exercise.
Almost all smartwatches include heart rate monitoring as a basic function, although some also have more advanced features such as heart rate variability monitoring, stress tracking and heart rate alerts.
Heart rate monitors can also be used to help detect issues like irregular heartbeats, called atrial fibrillation (AFIB). However, ECG (electrocardiography) is much more accurate and sensitive than OHRM (optical heart rate monitoring), so it’s best to look for devices that are specifically designed for AFib detection, rather than generalized models.
Smartwatches are a great way to monitor your health. They can track heart rate, sleep patterns and stress levels, and some even include an oxygen sensor to measure your blood oxygen saturation.
If you have a medical condition, such as anemia or sleep apnea, blood oxygen levels may be important to watch for. A low reading is often associated with those conditions.
Most of the best smartwatches with blood oxygen sensors use pulse oximetry to measure your SpO2 levels, which are the percentages of oxygen in your blood. A normal reading is between 95 and 100 per cent.
Apple, Fitbit, Samsung and Garmin devices can also sample your SpO2 levels periodically throughout the day. These background measurements typically occur when you aren’t moving.
Stress is a natural part of life, but excessive levels can cause long-term health problems. Smartwatches and fitness bands with built-in stress monitoring tools can help keep you in check so you can manage your stress level effectively and improve your overall health.
The most common way to measure stress is through heart rate variability (HRV). HRV measures the slight variations between your heartbeats and can be used to detect high or low stress levels.
If your watch supports automatic stress monitoring, it will notify you if you’re stressed and prompt you to do breathing exercises to lower the level. Some watches also give you the option to set the duration and intensity of these exercises.
Some smartwatches, like the Fitbit Sense and Sense 2, use EDA sensors to measure the electrical conductivity variation of your skin due to sweat. It’s an inexpensive and accurate method to monitor stress, though the sensor can be slow or inaccurate.
A smart watch can be a great way to monitor sleep and health. They are typically thin, unobtrusive and fit comfortably on the wrist.
Some trackers also offer sleep analytics that allow you to delve deeper into your data and understand your patterns. They may provide detailed charts and overlay multiple sets of data to show how different factors affect your sleep quality and duration.
In-depth sleep tracking watches can also tell you when you are entering a specific stage of sleep, such as deep restful sleep. Current technology in consumer watches can do this by monitoring heart rate and breathing rate.
Other options include smart mattresses that you place under your mattress to gather data without putting a device on your wrist. These devices are usually thin, unobtrusive and compatible with most mattresses on the market.