Garmin Body Battery: How Does It Work? Everything You Need to Know

If you’re comparing different Garmin watches and trying to choose the one that fits your needs, chances are you’ve heard about Garmin Body Battery Energy Monitor.

It’s a new feature that’s been implemented on some of its newer model watches – like the the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and the Garmin Forerunner 255. It’s designed to help you understand how well rested you are – or aren’t.

So what is Garmin Body Battery? How does it work and is it even accurate? Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know.

What Is Garmin Body Battery Energy Monitor?

Garmin Body Battery Energy Monitor is new feature on some of Garmin’s watches that combines a variety of metrics to estimate your energy reserve throughout the day.

If you’re well rested, your body battery will increase until it hits 100. If you don’t take time to rest, or if your rest isn’t actually restful, you’ll bottom out at 5.

Unlike science fiction movies, you’ll never actually hit zero – and nothing horrible happens to you if you hit 5.

But the general idea is that you’ll want to make sure your body battery is high before you start a strenuous workout. This indicates that you’re well rested and ready to give it your all.

If, on the other hand, your body battery is consistently low, you may want to think about why that is and make some adjustments to your daily routine.

How Is Body Battery Calculated?

Your Garmin device already collects data about your heart rate and activity throughout the day. Your heart rate variability (HRV), activity levels, stress levels, and sleep data are combined to estimate your body battery.

It’s best to think of Body Battery as a cumulative thing. This data won’t tell you anything about a single moment in time. But tracking them over the course of a day – or multiple days – you can estimate how rested you are.

if you have a restful night’s sleep, you should expect your body battery to charge over night and be high in the morning. If you have a calm, restful day, you should find that it’s still high at the end of the day.

On the other hand, if you have a really active or stressful day, your body battery will drain over the course of the day and be low. If you top that off with a poor night of sleep, you may well wake up and find your body battery still drained.

This can seem a bit counterintuitive at first, until you understand more about how physiological stress is defined and measured by your Garmin running watch. In fact, one of the best things about this feature is that it will help you better understand your body – and how it responds to different things.

You can read more about how Body Battery is calculated on Garmin’s support page here.

How Does Garmin Define and Track Stress?

Newer Garmin devices track your stress levels throughout the day, and that’s primarily what drives your body battery. People often misunderstand what this “stress” measurement means, and that can lead people to doubt or misunderstand the Body Battery feature as well.

Garmin measures physiological stress – not mental stress. Sometimes mental stress can have a physiological effect on your body, but not always. At the same time, your body can sometimes be experiencing physical stress and you might not otherwise notice.

This stress level is estimated and measured through heart rate variability – the variability in the amount of time between heart beats. When you’re truly at rest, your heart rate will be low and your heart rate variability will be high. Conversely, when your body is under stress, your heart rate will be elevated and your heart rate variability will be lower.

How does this work in action?

Let’s say you have a glass of wine with dinner, and then another couple of glasses afterwards. As your body processes the alcohol, you’ll notice that your stress levels increase. If this happens to be right before bed, you’ll notice that your stress levels stay elevated through the early hours of your sleep – and you won’t really “rest” until these levels return to normal.

Or, let’s say you go out for a run. Afterwards, as your body starts the recovery process, your stress levels will be high. If it’s an easy run, your stress level might return to normal within an hour or so. If it’s a particularly difficult run, especially a long run, it may be quite a while before they return to normal. After a long race, I usually find that my stress levels are elevated until late in the day, regardless of how much I rest the rest of the day.

Examples of Garmin Body Battery in Action

I’ve had a Garmin Forerunner 245 and had access to Garmin Body Battery since June 2020. At first, I didn’t quite understand it. But over the last few months, I’ve noticed several patterns now and I understand it much better.

As an example, let’s take a look at my own body battery on a typical Sunday.

A graph of my Body Battery Energy Monitor from a Sunday.
A graph of my Body Battery from a Sunday, with the stress level behind it.

At the beginning of the day (midnight), my body battery started out quite low. Saturday had been an active day, and I went to sleep kind of late.

I also had a couple of drinks before bed, and you can see how my stress levels were slightly elevated early on. As a result, my Body Battery charged slowly and it didn’t reach 100 before I woke up at 8:30. Nonetheless, I was fairly well rested when I woke up.

I then went for my weekly long run – about ten miles. I came home and rested up a bit, but my stress levels remained elevated for a few hours. Things returned to normal later in the evening and my body battery charged a little bit. I was active later in the evening, cooking dinner, and my Body Battery remained more or less level for the rest of the day. I ended the day above 50, which put me in a great position to rest up to full overnight.

Compare this to an average Monday.

A graph of my Garmin Body Battery from a Body Battery.
A graph of my Garmin Body Battery from a Monday

You see a spike in my stress levels overnight. This was likely from a nightcap or two. You should be noticing a trend, whereby late night drinking has a pretty significant impact on your Body Battery. In this case, my Body Battery actually went down a little while I was sleep.

But otherwise, Monday was a very restful day. It’s typically one of my off days, and so I slept in a little later and I didn’t go for a run. I probably got up and walked the dog, and there are a few short spurts of activity.

The rest of the day was probably spent sitting in front of my computer working. I woke up with a my Body Battery almost full, and it stayed that way throughout the day.

Let’s compare this to one final example.

My Garmin Body Battery graph from a day when I was sick.

Now this definitely looks different.

The morning looked fine, and I got up and went for my morning run. But afterwards, my stress levels were high. This wasn’t a particularly strenuous run, so I was surprised when they were still high later in the day.

As the day went on, I noticed I wasn’t feeling great. I had some sinus congestion and a headache. I was legitimately sick for the next day or two. And if you saw my Body Battery for those days, you’d see that it bottomed out for a full day. It’s typical when you’re sick for your stress levels to remain elevated and for your Body Battery to charge little, if at all.

This is a great example of how the stress levels and Body Battery capture what’s really going on in your body.

Is Body Battery Accurate?

At first, your stress levels may seem a bit quirky. And who’s to say whether it’s reliably accurate 100% of the time.

But I’ve had access to this feature for the past few years, and over time I’d definitely say it is accurate. If I have a few days in a row where I’m not resting enough, I’ll notice that my body battery is low. Conversely, if I spent a lot of time being inactive, I’ll notice it stays high.

It’s best understood and utilized in this cumulative sense. You can use it to take stock of your daily routine and make sure that you’re getting enough rest. If you wake up every morning, and your body battery is low, something is definitely wrong.

What Makes Your Body Battery Go Down?

To give you a better idea of what influences your stress levels and body battery, here’s what I’ve learned through experience.

First, activity makes it go down. This perhaps goes without saying, but if you go for a run or a bike ride, you’ll see a drop over the course of that activity. More strenuous activities will make it drop more than relatively easy activities.

But it’s not just the activity itself. Post-activity, your stress levels may remain high and continue to drain your body battery. This is especially true after sustained, high intensity workouts.

Alcohol will have an impact. One or two drinks usually doesn’t make a significant difference. But if I have three or more drinks, I’ll definitely notice. It’s rare that I have more than four or five drinks, but after the occasional party I’ll notice that my body battery is depressed, and that it hasn’t increased very much over night. Here’s a good example of a Body Battery graph after a late night drinking.

Eating can also have an impact. After a meal, your body will digest your food. If you have a really big meal – in other words, if you over eat – you could see a sustained increase in your stress levels for a while.

Being sick definitely has an impact. If you’re legitimately sick, your stress levels will be elevated all day. It’s kind of freaky to look at the graph, to be honest. I wouldn’t want to see it, if I was sick for an extended period of time with something like the flu.

Coffee and caffeine will sometimes have an impact, too. I’m a heavy coffee drinker, and rarely will a day go by that I don’t have at least three cups of coffee in a day. It’s usually spaced out, but sometimes I drink a few cups in rapid succession. The caffeine will hit and I’ll feel a little jittery – and sure enough my Garmin stress levels will be increased as well.

What Garmin Running Watches Have Body Battery?

This is a relatively new feature, introduced in 2018. Older Garmin watches don’t have all the hardware necessary to calculate and track Body Battery.

If you’re looking at the Garmin Forerunner line, it appeared with the Garmin Forerunner 45, 245, 745, and 945. You’ll also find Garmin Body Battery on the latest generation (55, 255, and 955). This can be a reason to choose a newer Garmin, like the Forerunner 245 or 255, over the older 235.

If you’re looking at the Vivoactive line, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 and 4s are compatible with Body Battery. This can be a reason to choose the Garmin Vivoactive 4 over the older 3.

You can also get access to body battery with the Garmin Venu, Instinct, or Fenix 6 series.

What Do You Think About Garmin Body Battery?

Ultimately, Garmin Body Battery has reminded me of a few fundamental life tips – get enough sleep, eat and drink in moderation, and exercise enough but not too much. If any of those things get out of wack, your Body Battery will get out of wack as well.

How has your experience been with Garmin’s Body Battery Energy Monitor?

Do you find it useful or accurate? Leave a comment below.

24 thoughts on “Garmin Body Battery: How Does It Work? Everything You Need to Know”

  1. I did a 3-day juice cleanse earlier this year and noticed that my body battery stayed level rather than dropping at a 45° angle throughout the workday. The next week, while eating normal meals, I drank 12 glasses of water throughout the day. Same result — body battery stayed level throughout the workday.
    Days when I only have a few glasses of water, I don’t feel dehydrated but my body battery drops like a rock.
    It was interesting to see this stark difference. I now try to drink more than eight glasses of water each day.

  2. Interesting article, thanks.
    The other thing I have noticed is the time of your last meal. If my last meal is 3-4 hours before I go to sleep then my stress levels will be low all night. If My last meal, or even a snack is within 2 hours of bedtime then stress levels will remain high for at least the first 2-3 hours of sleep and my body battery will be below 50 when I wake up. As you say, all the good old rules about life are true, including not eating or drinking alcohol within 3 hours of hitting the pillow.

  3. Have read article about these as a resource in managing long covid, have you any experience of whether it works.
    (Long covid and self-help pacing groups—getting by with a little help from our friends
    September 29, 2020
    Paul Garner and colleague)

  4. I found your article helpful. I’m a big fan of body battery now (245), but how it works seems like black magic. Noticed after my first AstraZeneca vaccine shot that my body battery was way down and sure enough I was knocked out for 18hrs. I really wonder how far my ‘battery’ goes below 5 on the days when I push an evening run. I’ve only worn my watch during lockdown, so will be interested to see what happens when I eventually go back to commuting to the office.

  5. I have been having panic attacks lately to the point where I black out. On Doctors orders I have worn a hr monitor and my heart is okay, but I am still having chest pains even though I have been taking 100 mg daily of Zoloft. My BODY BATTERY is rarely above 9. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Jim, you could be facing burn out symptoms. In this case I recognize my own …and use my Body battery as a good utility to control my stress level, take care. Grz Peter

  6. I thought that heart-variability was ‘low’ when you were unstressed and ‘high’ when you were stressed? Meaning that your unstressed heart-rate is very consistent (‘low’ variability). The article says the opposite. Was that a typo, or am I misunderstanding this?

    • it’s correct. High HRV means parasympathic system (rest and digest) is prominent. Low HRV means sympathetic system (fight or flight) arousal.

  7. Very helpful and interesting article. But I would still like to ask why my body battery drains throughout the day normal and then from 7-8pm stays the same or even goes up few % like in your first graph. Im using my watch first week so I dont really understand. Can anyone explain? Thank you.

      • No. The “body battery” feature is available for FREE — and without a subscription — on certain newer models of Garmin watches. The Garmin Venu Sq is particularly affordable, looks like an Apple watch (if you care), and has the feature. The Garmin vivoactive also has it, but it’s a little more expensive of a watch.

  8. My body battery seems to have been less accurate since my 61st birthday. I was wondering if the algorithm makes some assumptions at this age? It has never gone up to 100 since and I’m beginning to ignore it and just get on with my training.

  9. I’m glad the body battery works because the sleep feature won’t work for people who get up for a while in the night. It will give only the section of sleep after we go back to bed. The first half of the night will be gone. No use then for many of us.

  10. I’m 67, my body battery never gotten higher than 98. I’ve hit 5 several times. Most days I eat dinner around 4:00 pm and in bed by 8:30. Last night we went out with friends, at dinner at 8:00 PM and had two G&T’s. Got to bed about 10:45. My body battery never reached 50. I’m taking today easy. My Garmin is teaching me how to back off when necessary.

  11. My body battery level was reacting as you explain, and helped me “back off’ when exhausted, but for the last few months it has been consistently low. I am a 68 yr old widow and my 43 yr old son moved in after a marriage break up.. It did coincide with me increasing my bike ride lengths after lockdown and some climate activism busyness. Reading your article has given me a few ideas to try, hoping I can get back to 80 or 90% levels most mornings( instead of 35!). 100% mornings do feel terrific! Drinking more water, and eating earlier may help, and maybe more gentle walks and rides fitted in-between the bigger ones.More meditation (Quaker meeting raises my battery!) may get the stress lower and battery up but ultimately my Garmin might be telling me to find a place and time to rest!

  12. I believe the body battery should be individually calibrated. I am consistently at low stress with very few restful moments. I believe my low stress is actually rest. I’ve read on the Garmin website that I should individually calibrate but I am unclear how to do so.

    • That is an automatic background process, I have read that forcing a restart of the device may cause it to re-calibrate again though. If it works anything like Whoop (I believe it does), then it will use a sort of generic model for people of your age and gender, weight and so on while it learns about your individual system.

      Keep in mind it will actually say “rest” when it deems so, which is on my Fenix 7 / Instinct 2, under measurements of 12 for stress. I ride a lot but love my beer, so I can absolutely see the difference between a good clean night charge vs a came from the beer garden before bed charge. Quite drastically too..

  13. Very informative and useful, thanks! For me, the BB is very much tied to resting HR. If my resting HR doesn’t go down into the 40s, which it doesn’t after some very active days, it hardly rises overnight. I wonder at times if it has a youth bias… since also I record very little deep sleep most nights, though I think this is normal for an older person. I’m in my 70s. It’s pretty useful. When it’s in the high range I generally do feel good, and have learned not to get too freaked out if it’s low from registering a poor nights sleep, as long as it doesn’t bottom out for too long.

  14. My body battery doesn’t doesn’t seem to fully recharge since having covid two months ago. It’s not too bad (compared to others), but I do notice a little bit of fatigue and especially now I’ve got a cold as well. But thanks to these comments I’m realising how little I’ve been prioritising drinking enough water lately.

  15. Interested if anyone has had a similar experience. I train pretty hard and pretty consistently – 2 to 3 hours on week days which typically includes 1 to 1.5 hours of walking and 1.5 to 2 hours of cycling – between a steady roll and full on efforts.
    I have an Instinct which I purchased and a Vivoactive 4 which I was lucky enough to win. I find that the Instinct consistently reads a ‘low’ (<50) body battery and has my resting heart rate between 47 and 50. Both readings are consistent with what I do during the day, but seem low and high respectively.
    The Vivoactive on the other hand has my resting HR between 43 and 47 while my body batter is routinely between 70 and 85. Again – the numbers track as you would expect in line with my activity, they are just much higher/lower.
    Both samples come from a couple of weeks to a month of wearing the watch and when I swap between the two the differences are always the same.
    Any thoughts?

  16. I used to sleep in the winter with an electric blanket. I’ve noticed that it seems to affect recovery. I personally think that your body needs to have a temperature drop to sleep well. Now I just use it to heat the bed and turn it off completely before I go to sleep while the bed is still warm. I’ve also noticed that if you go to bed on 5 having been on 5 for a while it flatlines for a bit before going up at 45 degrees. So my rule is to try and get to bed as quickly as possible after hitting 5. Still a learning curve for me. But the feeling of being well rested is incomparable.


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