Pulse Ox Frequently Asked Questions for Garmin Watches

Review the following top FAQs related to the Pulse Ox feature found in several Garmin products.

NOTE: Pulse Ox data is intended for recreational use only. Pulse Ox data should not be treated as any type of medical diagnosis or treatment of disease.  This is not a medical device: see Garmin.com/ataccuracy


What is Pulse Ox?

Pulse Oximetry (or Pulse Ox, for short) is a noninvasive method used to measure the saturation of oxygen in the bloodstream.  Compatible devices use a combination of red and infrared lights with sensors on the back of the device which can determine the percentage of oxygenated blood (SpO2%) available in your blood.  This value should, in general, be 95% or higher in most settings but can be influenced by altitude, activity, and an individual’s health.


Why should I be interested in Pulse Ox tracking?

Our bodies distribute oxygenated blood to every part of our body through our respiratory system.  Being aware of your SpO2 can help you understand how your body reacts to various situations and can serve as an indication of important changes in your health.

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How can I use the feature?

You can use the Pulse Ox feature in one of two ways:

To spot-check Pulse Ox:

  1. Navigate to the Pulse Ox widget on your device1
  2. Allow the watch to calculate your Pulse Ox

The device will display your oxygen saturation as a percentage.

To enable Pulse Ox tracking during sleep or all-day Pulse Ox tracking2:

  1. Open Garmin Connect Mobile from your Smartphone
  2. Access the Menu Options:
    • Android Select  (upper left corner)
    • iOS: Select More (bottom right corner)
  3. Select Garmin Devices
  4. Select your watch if you have more than one device listed
  5. Select Activity Tracking
  6. Select Pulse Ox
  7. Toggle Sleep Tracking or All-Day Tracking2 to the on position

Pulse Ox readings will take place nightly during the middle 4 hours of your stated sleep window.3  Information from readings that are taken will display in Garmin Connect.

1Refer to "Getting Pulse Oximeter Readings" in your owner's manual for detailed steps on accessing the Pulse Ox widget.

2All-Day tracking is not available on the Approach S62, Forerunner 245/245 Music, vivomove 3/3S, vivomove Luxe, vivomove Style, or vivosmart 4 (refer to your owner's manual).

3The Forerunner 945, Venu, vivoactive 4/4S, Captain Marvel, First Avenger, Darth Vader, and Rey smartwatches, will record Pulse Ox readings during your entire stated sleep window if your software is up to date (see Installing the Latest Software to Your Fitness Device).

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Why is my Pulse Ox reading low?

If your Pulse Ox during sleep reading seems low, it may not necessarily indicate low pulse ox saturation.  Your arm position can influence the blood flow to your wrist and can adversely affect readings, typically making them lower than they really are.  Where possible, maintain a position that is conducive to good circulation and at or around heart level.

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When I turn on the Pulse Ox feature on my device, my skin glows red.  Is this normal?

Yes.  This is functioning as expected.  However, the amount of reflected red light may depend on the tone of your skin.

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What kind of light is being used to trigger the Pulse Ox feature?

The Pulse Ox LEDs are emitting various wavelengths of red and infrared light.  It is not a laser and poses no issues for skin contact or direct viewing. 

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Will using the Pulse Ox feature affect the battery life of my device?

If Pulse Ox tracking during sleep or all-day is turned on, the battery life on a full charge may be reduced significantly.  Various factors contribute to battery life, including usage patterns, customization settings, activity level, fit on the wrist, and the user’s physical characteristics.

The continuous measurement during sleep or all-day will not initiate if the battery level is too low.

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