Far from just tracking your steps and workouts, these days most best fitness trackers on the market are packed with features that help you make more informed decisions about your health, from how well you slept to how stressed you might be to where you are in your menstrual cycle.
For more information on how some of the best garmin watches About tracking your cycle on the market, we sat down with Jill Kaiser, a senior product manager at Garmin, who led the development of pregnancy and menstrual cycle tracking.
“Every person who menstruates is different,” Kaiser explained. “We want them to be able to understand and see their trends, just as you would see them inside your Body Battery Features, within your dream, within your performance. The way your body changes throughout your cycle is very important, so we’re giving that power to the user.”
In addition to showing you where you are in your cycle, Garmin’s period tracking feature will give you hints and tips on how you should train, depending on your cycle. There are four main stages of the menstrual cycle: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. Your hormones will vary with each phase of your cycle, and since exercise affects your hormonal balance, some women find it helpful to tailor their exercise routine to their cycle.
For example, progesterone and estrogen are at their lowest levels during menstruation. You may feel less energy and motivation, and you may find it more difficult to do quick cardio exercises that involve energy and endurance.
During the follicular phase, your estrogen levels rise, giving you more energy, making it the best time for high-intensity exercise.
Your energy levels are also likely to remain high during ovulation, however you may experience some bloating.
During the luteal phase, your body releases progesterone to maintain the thickened lining of the uterus. The increase in progesterone can increase feelings of fatigue. Your body temperature also rises in the luteal phase, which can affect exercise, one study found that increased body temperature can affect your running performance, for example. Of course, this does not mean that you should avoid running, it may be more challenging to achieve fast paces in the sessions.
Read on to learn more about how the menstrual tracking feature works in Garmin Connect and how to add it to your watch.
How Garmin’s menstrual tracking feature works
Unlike other trackers that analyze skin temperature readings, Garmin’s menstrual tracking feature is based on user information. “A user goes in and sets his cycle information — that’s the start day of his last period and the typical length of his cycle,” Kaiser said. “Then we have all these recording functions, including physical symptoms, mood, and downloading. We also look at the average cycles over time in the report view, which shows a view of one cycle, six cycles, and 12 cycles. We take all six cycles and average them together to give our predictions.”
At the moment, although many Garmin watches have an internal temperature sensor, it is not used to measure skin temperature. Although it can be influenced by the environment, skin temperature can be an indicator of core body temperature: an increase in body temperature indicates ovulation. This could be something we see in future watches and is how devices like the oura ring and apple watch series 8 predict ovulation.
How to Add Cycle Tracking to Your Garmin Watch
Ready to start? Here’s how to set up cycle tracking on Garmin Connect and how to add the Women’s Health widget to your compatible Garmin watch.
- To set up period tracking, sign in to Garmin Connect on your phone or computer
- Open the main menu and select Health Statistics
- Select Menstrual Cycle from the drop down menu
- Your watch will then ask you for a few details to complete the setup, such as the first day of your last period.
- From here, you can start tracking by adding additional data in the ‘Add Symptoms’ and ‘Add Notes’ sections in your Garmin Connect app.
If you’d rather not have to reach for your phone every time you want to check where you are in your cycle, you can add Cycle Tracking to your watch, but it’s a little fiddly. To do this, you will need to download the Women’s Health app. That is how:
- Click on your Garmin watch settings from the Garmin Connect app
- Select the Activities & Apps option
- Click Open Connect IQ Store and then select Women’s Health Tracking
- Once downloaded, you’ll see Women’s Health listed in the app list on your watch, and you’ll be able to see your cycle information listed in the menu from your wrist.
If you choose not to track from your phone, here it is How to track your periods without using an app.