New Garmin watch update reveals how your body is handling life's daily demands

Garmin Instinct 2 watch on woman's wrist
(Image credit: Garmin)

Garmin is rolling out a software update for the Instinct 2 sports watch that adds heart rate variability (HRV) status – a feature that first appeared on the Garmin Forerunner 955 when it launched in June.

HRV is an interesting metric, which can tell you a lot about how your body is handling the demands of daily life. Your heart doesn't beat like a metronome; instead, the time between each beat varies. HRV is the difference in time between these beats.

Firstbeat, the company that developed the heartrate analysis used by Garmin, explains that HRV is regulated by your autonomic nervous system (ANS). During times of stress, the sympathetic branch of the ANS increases your heart's contraction rate and force, and decreases HRV, preparing you for action. When you're relaxed, the parasympathetic branch of the ANS slows your heart rate and increases HRV while you recover.

All the best Garmin watches (including the Instinct 2) already use HRV to calculate your daily stress level, estimated VO2 Max, performance condition, and Body Battery score. It's also used to help determine sleep stages. However, until recently, it wasn't possible for you to check HRV by itself.

Watches that support the new feature will spend a couple of weeks calculating your baseline HRV. After that, the watch will track your HRV each night, and plot the number against the baseline. 

How to get the update

As TizenHelp reports, Garmin has now released an Alpha software update for Instinct 2 watches that adds HRV status, plus some other handy tools like the ability to collect activities into categories, and a bundle of bug fixes.

You can find links to download the update for the Instinct 2 or Instinct 2S on Garmin's forums. Alternatively, if you don't mind waiting a little longer and would prefer to wait until any potential issues have been ironed out, just sit tight and your watch should receive the finished update via Garmin Connect sometime in the coming weeks.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.