Using Technology to Stay Healthy and Train Optimally
February 22, 2024 | Christian Schauf
Using Technology to Stay Healthy and Train Optimally

I’ve been a Garmin user for over a decade. What started as a GPS watch to track my runs and navigate my way home after sunset during a hunt has now become my most used piece of technology outside of my phone. I’m currently using the Tactix 7 Amoled, and it only gets better with every update. Yes, it still tracks my runs, helps me find my way home, and even features an incredible built-in flashlight for those dark times when my regular flashlight eludes me. But more importantly, it has become my body’s dashboard.

With most high-end Garmin watches, there's a plethora of health and exercise stats that help me train more efficiently. It alerts me to times when I should slow down and provides encouragement by showing improvements over long durations of time. For a complete breakdown of everything these watches can do, you really need to visit the Garmin website and do a deep dive. But for now, here are my favorite applications that quite frankly guide my life and help me be the best version of myself that I can be.

Sleep: The Garmin provides a full breakdown of your sleep, including Light, Deep, REM, and awake times over a timeline, along with a score based on how long and how restful your sleep was. Having trouble improving your score? It also provides insights designed to help coach you to a better night’s sleep. It's remarkably accurate. For example, even a few late-night cocktails can affect your score. It can also now record naps and provide insights on how to get the most out of short periods of rest, ultimately affecting your overall Body Battery (more on that to come).

Body Battery: Body Battery is a rough metric showing how much energy you have left. A good night's sleep can bring your score up to 100 points, while activities during the day such as exercise or stress will lower it, or raise it in the case of a solid nap. The floor on the Body Battery is 5, and if you hit 5 by bedtime, odds are you’re going to crash hard. Conversely, if it's late in the day, you've missed a workout, and your battery is still in the 30s or 40s, it may inspire you to engage in physical activity, thus allowing for better sleep later on.

VO2 Max: VO2 max is my primary indicator of my cardio and general fitness levels. It measures the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during intense exercise. This metric varies widely among individuals based on factors such as age, gender, genetics, and fitness level. For adults, the average VO2 max typically ranges from 30 to 60 ml/kg/min, with higher values indicating better cardiovascular fitness. It's essential to aim for a VO2 max level that is appropriate for your age and fitness goals. Generally, maintaining a VO2 max at the higher end of the average range or above can signify excellent cardiovascular health and endurance capacity. Regular cardiovascular exercise, interval training, and proper nutrition can help improve and sustain a healthy VO2 max level.

Stress Monitoring: Garmin's stress measuring tool is invaluable in today's fast-paced world. It tracks your stress levels throughout the day, providing insights into your overall well-being. This feature not only helps me understand my stress patterns but also suggests when I should take breaks during work. It prompts me to take walks or engage in brief stretching sessions, ensuring I maintain a healthy balance between work and relaxation, ultimately enhancing my productivity and overall health.

Pulse Ox: Pulse Ox measures the amount of oxygen absorption your body is capable of. It's particularly useful when training, sleeping, or living at higher elevations, as it can help prevent altitude sickness and provide insights into issues like sleep apnea or an impending cold.

Respiration: While not something I check often, respiration has proven extremely useful in detecting the onset of illness, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased respiration can indicate sickness before other symptoms manifest, allowing for early intervention and rest. I typically check this stat once a week to ensure consistency and to detect any sudden spikes, which could indicate an impending illness.

These applications, among others, have truly revolutionized how I approach my health and fitness journey. With the wealth of data provided by Garmin watches, I feel more equipped than ever to make informed decisions about my well-being.