Garmin VivosmartHR Review

It’s been a month since I made that almost-impulse purchase at REI (the last stop of my post-blizzard shopping spree), and now I am ready to share my Garmin VivosmartHR review with you. Keep reading to find out what I love about this new activity tracker, what I don’t, and which features I use most frequently.

Garmin VivosmartHR
The reason I call this an almost-impulse purchase is because I hadn’t even heard of the Vivosmart HR until the night before I bought it. I did research it pretty thoroughly on the Garmin website and other on-line reviews, and it sounded like the perfect upgrade to my Garmin Vivosmart, which I reviewed here and here.

Garmin VivosmartHR Review

The activity tracker features of the Garmin VivosmartHR are similar to that of the Vivosmart, but the VivosmartHR also tracks stairs (or hills, apparently).

Garmin VivosmartHR

This week’s long run wasn’t quite as hilly as last week’s!

The step count screen is shown below. The number on the bottom is the “goal” number, which changes from day-to-day, based on the previous day’s activity level.

Garmin VivosmartHR

Since I didn’t reach 10,000 steps on Friday my goal for Saturday
was a bit lower,
but I blew past it during my long run! 

The Garmin VivosmartHR has the same phone-based features that the Vivosmart has, including the ability to start/stop your playlist, and the ability to receive “smart notifications” from your phone. It also has an option to show the weather, which I have gotten in the habit of checking before I get out of bed! 

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When I first got my Vivosmart, I didn’t think I’d care about the smart notifications, but now I am hoooked on them. The sharper screen of VivosmartHR makes it even easier to read text messages, and it is easier to delete notificaitons once you’ve read them. 

Of course the main upgrade in the VivosmartHR is the wrist-based heart rate monitoring. The device has an optical heart rate monitor that measures your heart rate every few minutes throughout the day, and constantly during an activity. It’s not as accurate as a chest strap-based monitor, but it comes close. 

Garmin VivosmartHR

Apparently my resting heart rate is low for my age–yay for running!

Most of the Garmin VivosmartHR functions are accessed via the touchscreen, but there is a small button that accesses the activity screen and other settings. To time an activity, you press the button, then touch the “person” icon, and then choose from “run”, “cardio”, or “other”. Once you have done that, pressing the button will start the timer and constant heart rate monitoring. Pressing the button again will stop the timer, and then you can choose to resume, save, or delete the activity. 

Garmin VivosmartHR

If you select “run” it will signal (vibrate) at every mile–based on its estimate of your distance. (I’ve worn it with my Garmin 225 on my other wrist, and find it to be off by about 5-10%.) I mostly use the activity feature to monitor my heart rate during indoor cycling class and treadmill workouts.

The two things I don’t like about the VivosmartHR are the battery life and the size, but both stem from having more features. While my Vivosmart only needed to be charged once a week, the VivosmartHR won’t last quite that long, especially if I’ve timed a few classes and runs. While it’s about the same size as most activity trackers, it is wider than the Vivosmart, which was wider than the Jawbone UP. Maybe they are just stepping stones to an Apple Watch

All in all, I am pleased with the VivosmartHR. If you don’t need wrist-based  heart rate monitoring, you might want to check out the new Vivofit 3 which has a 1-year battery life and interchangeable bands. On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a new GPS watch, you might want to check out the Vivoactive HR, which looks really cool and almost has me regretting my Garmin 225!

Weekly Wrap-Up

If you’re still with me for the Weekly Wrap link up hosted by Holly and Tricia, here’s a quick run-down of my workouts:

Monday: 45 minute full body strength routine

Tuesday morning: Hill repeats
Tuesday evening: 60 minute Core Power Yoga 2 class

Garmin 225

This data is from my Garmin 225.
Love how my heart rate matches the hills!

Wednesday: 45 minute indoor cycling class

Thursday: 30 minute full body strength routine
I was going to run, but after reading this great post from Deborah about over-doing it, I decided to make it an easier day.

Friday: 45 minute treadmill workout with two tempo miles.

Garmin VivosmartHR

My first tempo mile at 7.5 mph went well, but I was struggling halfway through the second one. When I saw how high my heart rate was, I gave myself permission to cut back to 7.0 mph. I’m sure I needed more recovery between the tempo miles. 

Saturday: 8 mile run – my last hilly run before the Reston 10 Miler this weekend.

Garmin 225

More data from my Garmin 225

Sunday: Glorious 29 mile bike ride in 60 degree weather! 🙂

This week I will be taking it easy in advance of the Reston 10 Miler on Sunday. Come by for the Ultimate Coffee Date Link Up on Saturday to wish me luck!

Do you research fitness purchases or buy them on impulse?

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34 Responses to Garmin VivosmartHR Review

  1. I’ve heard so many good things about this Vivosmart. I have an Apple Watch, and I have to admit that it’s awesome at just about everything except as a running watch. And that disappoints me. So I’m still using my Garmin Forerunner…
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Big Sur Marathon Training Week 4My Profile

  2. Kelli says:

    Hey Coco! Good review! And you really got in some great workouts this week! That data makes it really apparent just how hard you’re working. And so awesome you had a great day for a bike ride. I hope the warmer temps are here to stay (but I have a feeling a few more cold snaps are in store) . Have a great week!
    Kelli recently posted…Weekly Wrap – Goodbye FebruaryMy Profile

  3. Will this one track your effort at spin class? That is the one thing that my watch will not do. Looking forward to coffee!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…February Favorites & Yaktrax GiveawayMy Profile

  4. Vicki B says:

    Maybe I’m reading this wrong..surely it didn’t ever give you a heart rate of 270 plus!! I guess that’s elevation? I still wish you’d join the many of your friends with Fitbit!! I like my Charge HR and would love to see you try that.

  5. Carla says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Vivofit as well.
    Im a rate of perceived exertion kinda woman—but if I ever go over to the heart rate side I’d definitely get this one.
    Carla recently posted…Thank you for all youve taught me.My Profile

  6. Nicole says:

    I been research all the Garmin products. I was thinking of getting the Forerunner 230. I do like how the VivofitHR is a little less obtrusive. I have been deliberating for a couple of months now. This is going to make my decision that much harder
    Nicole recently posted…Weekly Wrap and Stressful SituationsMy Profile

  7. I do not have a fitness tracker but it seems like everyone tjat has one really likes it. I need to get on this bandwagon. recently posted…My Favorite Running DudsMy Profile

  8. I have been wanting a tracker that does heart rate. This looks like a great one! Thanks so much for sharing your review.
    Michelle Rogers recently posted…A winter hike at Hanging Rock State ParkMy Profile

  9. Wow! I will have to lok into this VivosmartHR. We have only ever had FitBit HR but my hubby is having a lot of trouble with his about 6 months in. Thanks for sharing.
    Becki Santiago recently posted…3 CrossFit Things I’m Probably Not Going To Get Better AtMy Profile

  10. Pam says:

    Very nice thorough review. I still don’t own an activity tracker, but mainly because I think I would do too much to reach certain goals each day. Having a good training plan seems to work fine for me. You had some great runs this week and should be ready for your race this weekend.
    Pam recently posted…Weekly Workout Roundup: Feb 29th back to running and a new toyMy Profile

  11. Sharon says:

    Nice review! I like to research something before I buy it or at least get input from friends. I have the Garmin Forerunner 230 and love it! It’s an activity tracker/gps running watch and you also get the phone alerts. That’s one of my favorite things about the watch too!
    Sharon recently posted…Lucky Run Half Marathon Training 2/22-2/28My Profile

  12. I feel like I’m one of the few people left who doesn’t wear an activity tracker. The thought of getting one has crossed my mind, but I know that between chasing after a baby and then running around my classroom at school that I get plenty of steps in each day.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon Training Log – Week 4My Profile

  13. Ivanna says:

    This is very cool. I am in the market for a new tracker I’ll have to put this one on my list of ones to consider. Great review.
    Ivanna recently posted…MOOD BOOSTERS TO TRY WHEN YOU FEEL DOWNMy Profile

  14. Marcia says:

    Great review! This sounds pretty similar to the Microsoft Band II I got for Christmas. The Caveman did all the research. I think I would’ve passed on an activity tracker but I like that I can read texts/emails etc right from it.
    Marcia recently posted…Fueling Active Kids with Eggland’s Best EggsMy Profile

  15. I like to research them for sure. I had to replace my Fitbit Charge HR- it literally feel apart- if I have trouble with it again I may look at something like this. You have lots of bells and whistles! 🙂
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Family, golf, a 5K and ALL my miles!My Profile

  16. The Vivosmart sounds great! I got my boyfriend’s mom the Vivofit for Christmas – I think she likes it!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…Paleo Diet ResultsMy Profile

  17. Jenn says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    I do some research on fitness products and electronics, but I also buy on impulse. I am dazzled by the new and shiny!
    Jenn recently posted…weekly recap: 2/21 – 2/27My Profile

  18. I love my Vivofit2, I’m not sure I like the look of the new one. I love the features that come with yours though, but I have to say I really don’t like having to charge it, that’s the one thing I love about mine!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…5 Tips for getting a Good night’s sleep #NOWWellnessMy Profile

  19. Nice review! I’m surprised by all the bells and whistles it has. Right now my Charge HR is serving me well, and I continue to debate the whole Apple Watch thing.
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted…Weekly Wrap – February RewindMy Profile

  20. Kim Hatting says:

    What an awesome review! I’m a total tech moron, and don’t utilize much of what’s out there. I’m pretty #oldschool and try to keep it simple LOL I should look into heart rate monitoring, though. Thanks for the info!
    Kim Hatting recently posted…This week’s theme-Run Happy!My Profile

  21. HoHo Runs says:

    It sounds as if the Vivosmart HR has more features than my Fitbit Charge HR, at least from the perspective of what info you can get on your wrist. I have a new Garmin 225 which I am still in the process of learning. But, I do love the colorful graphs! It was a beautiful weekend to be outside! Thanks for linking with us Coco. See you at coffee Saturday.
    HoHo Runs recently posted…New Orleans (WW #30)My Profile

    • Coco says:

      Yes, the Vivosmart includes the smart phone features, with the Fitbit Charge HR doesn’t have. I think Fitbit has a new one, but it doesn’t show you the text messages right on your wrist, so I opted for another Garmin!
      Coco recently posted…Garmin VivosmartHR ReviewMy Profile

  22. Looks really cool! I’ve been enjoying my iFit, so I’m sure at some point I’ll take a step up to a tracker with more features.
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…Do you have a “running uniform”?My Profile

  23. I have the Fitbit charge HR. I hope not to have to replace it anytime soon but I have read good things about this Vivosmart! I wear my fitbit all the time and when I run I use a TomTom Sport because it has GPS where my fitbit doesn’t. I’d love to have it all on one. Thanks Coco for linking, hope to have coffee this weekend!
    Tricia@MissSippipiddlin recently posted…Weekly Wrap 30 RnRNOLAMy Profile

  24. Love the looks of your Vivosmart! So sleek! I just got the Vivoactive and am in love! Garmin products are great!
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted…Fueling a Marathoner and a Smoothie RecipeMy Profile

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