Garmin Watch Heart-Rate Problems? (6 Issues & Fixes)

If you’re passionate about fitness and rely on a Garmin heart rate monitor to track your activities, encountering problems with its functionality can be frustrating. 

From inaccurate readings to delays in response, there are various issues that users may face. 

In this article, I aim to explain some common problems associated with Garmin heart rate monitors. 

By addressing these issues, you can ensure that your heart rate monitor functions optimally, allowing you to track your fitness progress accurately and efficiently.

Inaccurate Heart Rate Readings

Garmin watches have gained popularity as reliable fitness companions, offering a plethora of features to track various aspects of your health and workouts. 

However, one recurring issue that users have reported is inaccurate heart rate readings. This issue is highly frustrating when you have spent a fair amount of money on a device that should be reliable.  

It is important to understand the factors that can contribute to these inaccuracies and learn how to mitigate them for a more accurate tracking experience.

Improper wear and fit are the primary culprits behind inaccurate heart rate readings on Garmin watches. 

  • If the watch is not worn snugly enough or if the strap is too loose, it may result in inconsistent contact between the sensor and your skin. 
  • To ensure optimal accuracy, it is crucial to fasten the watch securely to your wrist, ensuring it remains in place during physical activity. 
  • Adjusting the strap to fit snugly but not uncomfortably tight can significantly improve the quality of heart rate data.

Maintaining good contact between the watch’s sensor and your skin is essential for accurate readings.

  • The sensor on Garmin watches typically resides on the underside of the device, which needs direct contact with your wrist to detect and measure your heart rate effectively. 
  • Any dirt, sweat, or debris on your skin or the sensor area can interfere with the signal and lead to inaccurate readings.
  • It is recommended to clean both your wrist and the sensor area on the watch before each use to ensure proper contact and reliable heart rate data.

It is worth noting that certain activities can pose challenges to heart rate monitoring, regardless of the watch brand. 

  • High-intensity workouts involving vigorous movements or exercises that put pressure on the wrist area may cause temporary interruptions in heart rate tracking. 
  • In such cases, the watch may struggle to maintain consistent contact with the skin, resulting in sporadic or inaccurate readings.

Understanding these limitations can help manage expectations and reduce frustration when engaging in activities that might affect heart rate monitoring.

Garmin Watch Displays Spikes or Drops in Heart Rate

It can be very worrying to see a notification from your watch that your heart rate has suddenly spiked or dropped. It could lead to a lot of anxiety.

However, due to many complaints from Garmin owners, it seems that for the vast majority of these cases, the irregularity can be attributed to various external factors that may affect the accuracy of the readings.

One of the primary causes of erratic heart rate readings on Garmin watches is physical movement. 

When the watch is not securely fastened to the wrist or if there is excessive movement during exercise or daily activities, the sensor may struggle to obtain an accurate reading.

External electronic devices or electromagnetic interference can impact the heart rate monitoring accuracy of Garmin watches. 

For instance, being in close proximity to other devices emitting strong electromagnetic signals, such as smartphones or certain gym equipment, may lead to distorted readings. 

In such situations, it is advisable to minimize the contact or proximity between the watch and these devices to avoid any potential interference.

Delayed Heart Rate Reading

Users may occasionally experience a delayed or slow response when it comes to displaying heart rate readings. This issue can be frustrating and may hinder the overall user experience.

One possible cause of this problem is a weak signal between the watch and the heart rate sensor.

The watch relies on a signal from the sensor to accurately measure and display heart rate data. If the signal strength is compromised, it can lead to delays or inaccuracies in the readings. 

To address this, ensure that the watch is positioned properly on your wrist, as a loose or improper fit can weaken the signal. 

Adjusting the placement or tightening the strap may help improve the signal strength.

Another potential factor contributing to the delayed heart rate display is low battery levels. When the battery is running low, the watch’s performance can be affected, including its ability to promptly update heart rate readings. 

Make sure to charge your Garmin watch regularly and check the battery level to ensure it is not excessively low. 

Charging the watch fully can help eliminate any issues related to low battery levels.

Software glitches or firmware issues can also play a role in the slow response of heart rate readings. 

Like any electronic device, Garmin watches rely on software to function properly. Occasionally, these software systems may encounter bugs or glitches that can impact the performance of heart rate monitoring. 

In such cases, restarting the watch can often resolve the issue.

Try turning off the watch, waiting for a few seconds, and then turning it back on. 

This simple reboot can refresh the software and potentially restore the prompt updating of heart rate readings.

Battery drain during heart rate monitoring

The heart rate monitoring functionality is a key feature of Garmin’s offering, as it allows users to track their heart rate during various activities, providing valuable insights into their fitness levels and performance. 

However, the continuous use of this feature can sometimes lead to unexpected battery drainage.

There are a couple of factors that can contribute to this issue. 

One possibility is that the watch is constantly searching for a signal, particularly if you are in an area with poor GPS or heart rate sensor reception. 

In such cases, the watch expends additional power in an attempt to establish and maintain a reliable connection. 

To mitigate this problem, you must make sure that you are in an area with a strong GPS signal or consider adjusting the positioning of the watch on your wrist to enhance the heart rate sensor’s performance.

Please also read our article about the accuracy of Garmin’s GPS feature.

Another factor that may lead to excessive battery drain during heart rate monitoring is the presence of background processes that consume power. 

Garmin watches often run multiple applications and background tasks simultaneously to provide a seamless user experience. 

However, certain combinations of active features, notifications, or apps running in the background can increase power consumption, thus impacting the battery life. 

To address this, it is recommended to disable any unnecessary features or applications that are not being actively used. 

This can be done through the watch’s settings menu, where users can selectively enable or disable various functions according to their preferences.

In addition to these steps, regularly updating the firmware of your Garmin watch can also help resolve battery drain issues. 

Manufacturers often release firmware updates to address known bugs and improve the overall performance and battery efficiency of their devices. 

By keeping your watch’s firmware up to date, you can take advantage of any optimizations or fixes that have been implemented by Garmin.

Read Also: Garmin Watch Update Problems: 5 Common Issues (Explained)

Inconsistent Readings During Intense Workouts

Intense exercise often involves increased motion, sweating, and elevated heart rates. These factors can pose challenges for optical sensors, which rely on detecting changes in blood flow through the skin to measure heart rate. 

The motion caused by vigorous movements can create difficulties in obtaining reliable readings, as the sensors may struggle to maintain consistent contact with the skin. 

Moreover, excessive sweating can interfere with the optical sensors’ ability to accurately track heart rate, as moisture can affect their performance.

In addition, poor blood circulation in the extremities, such as during intense workouts, can further impact the accuracy of optical heart rate monitoring.

When blood circulation is compromised, the sensors may struggle to detect and measure the subtle changes in blood flow necessary for accurate readings.

To address these issues and obtain more reliable heart rate data during intense workouts, it is recommended to consider using a chest strap heart rate monitor.

Chest straps are designed to wrap around the chest and directly measure the electrical signals produced by the heart. 

This method provides more precise and consistent readings, as it bypasses the challenges associated with optical sensors.

The chest strap securely stays in place during vigorous movements, ensuring a continuous and accurate heart rate tracking experience.

Garmin offers a range of compatible chest strap heart rate monitors that seamlessly integrate with their watches. 

These monitors can be easily paired with your Garmin watch, allowing you to access accurate heart rate data during even the most intense workouts.

It’s worth noting that while chest strap heart rate monitors offer superior accuracy, they do come with some trade-offs. 

  • The chest strap itself can feel slightly restrictive or uncomfortable for some users, especially during extended periods of exercise.
  • Additionally, it may require occasional maintenance, such as replacing the battery or ensuring proper cleaning to maintain optimal performance.

Limited Underwater Performance

Garmin watches are known for their impressive features and durability in a variety of environments. But when it comes to underwater performance, there are certain limitations to be aware of.

One specific area where these limitations become evident is in accurately measuring heart rate during swimming or other water-based activities.

Garmin watches often utilize optical heart rate sensors to track and monitor heart rate throughout the day. 

However, the presence of water can interfere with these sensors’ ability to accurately detect blood flow, which can lead to less reliable readings. 

As a result, users may experience inconsistencies or inaccuracies in heart rate measurements while submerged in water.

To address this limitation, Garmin offers certain models that are compatible with chest strap monitors. 

These chest strap monitors provide a more reliable and accurate way to measure heart rate during water-based activities.

Pros and Cons of Garmin watches measuring Heart Rates


Garmin watches offer continuous heart rate monitoring, allowing users to track their heart rate throughout the day. This is especially important for those who want to be more conscious of their daily activity, general health or stress responses.

Heart rate data collected by Garmin watches can be used to optimize your training sessions.

The Garmin heart rate monitor also provide insights into overall health by detecting abnormal heart rate patterns, such as irregular heart rhythms or excessively high or low heart rates.


Users may experience these issues:

  • Garmin watch gives inaccurate readings
  • Garmin watch displays spikes or drops in heart rate
  • There’s a delayed or slow response to displaying heart rate reading
  • Battery drain during heart rate monitoring
  • Inconsistent readings during intense workouts
  • Limited underwater performance


6 Ways to Solve Your Garmin Heart Rate Monitor Not Working Problems

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