Garmin: Recording Activities

The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ (VS HR+) is the perfect fitness watch because it measures GPS, Heart Rate, steps, Intensity Minutes, floors, and pace. The purpose of this post is to explain workarounds for things that the Vivosmart HR+ does less than perfectly.

Recording a Garmin Activity

  • Problem: You want a permanent record of your exercise session. You may need this record to receive a Garmin badge for something like an early run (Early Riser badge), a sub-freezing event (Frosty badge), a bike ride on a rocky path (On the Rocks badge), or a wingsuit flight (Flying Squirrel badge). Your Garmin VS HR+ has just four choices when you click Start/Stop for an exercise: walk, run, cardio, other.
  • Solution: After you exercise, you may edit your initial four choices (walk, run, cardio, other) into hundreds of specific events, such as events that win badges. Here is how to edit a Garmin event:
  • Walk: If you want to know your steps, you must choose “Walk.” You can choose indoors or outdoors. Your steps will count towards any of your current step challenges. At the end of your event, sit and sync your data to Garmin Connect. Navigate on your computer to Garmin Connect. Click on “Activities” and then “All Activities.” Double click the most recent event. You can click on the name of the event to rename it anything of your choice. You edit by clicking the pen. You save by clicking the checkmark. Above the name of the event, you can click the caret to categorize the event as Walking, Casual Walking, or Speed Walking.
  • Run: If you are in a running challenge, you must choose “Run.” You will not get credit for miles if you do not choose “Run.” Again, you can choose indoors or outdoors. Your miles will count towards any of your current run challenges. At the end of your event, sit and sync your data to Garmin Connect. Navigate on your computer to Garmin Connect. Click on “Activities” and then “All Activities.” Double click the most recent event. You can click on the name of the event to rename it anything of your choice. You edit by clicking the pen. You save by clicking the checkmark. Above the name of the event, you can click the caret to categorize the event as Running, Indoor Running, Obstacle Running, Street Running, Track Running, Trail Running, Treadmill Running, or Virtual Running.
  • Cardio: If you want to record an aerobic exercise other than walking or running, you must choose “Cardio.” You will not get credit for Garmin’s aerobic badges if you do not start with a cardio selection. Again, you can choose indoors or outdoors. Your high-intensity exercise will count towards your steps, HR, Intensity Minutes, and specific badges. You won’t get run miles. At the end of your event, sit and sync your data to Garmin Connect. Navigate on your computer to Garmin Connect. Click on “Activities” and then “All Activities.” Double click the most recent event. You can click on the name of the event to rename it anything of your choice. You edit by clicking the pen. You save by clicking the checkmark. Above the name of the event, you can click the caret to categorize the event as Cardio, Cycling (10 subcategories), Diving (5 subcategories), Fitness Equipment (3 subcategories of Elliptical, Indoor Rowing, Stair Stepper), Hiking (no subcategories), Motorcycling (2 subcategories), Other (31 subcategories, such as golf, tennis, wingsuit flying), Swimming (2 subcategories), Transition (3 triathlete subcategories), and Yoga (no subcategories).
  • Other: If you want to record an anaerobic exercise, you must choose “Other.” You will not get credit for anaerobic badges if you do not choose “Other.” Again, you can choose indoors or outdoors. Your gym exercises will count, but you need a good memory or a written logbook of what exercises you did if you intend to transfer the exercises from memory or logbook to Garmin Connect. At the end of your event, sit and sync your data to Garmin Connect. Navigate on your computer to Garmin Connect. Click on “Activities” and then “All Activities.” Double click on the most recent event. You can click on the name of the event to rename it anything of your choice. You edit by clicking the pen. You save by clicking the checkmark. Above the name of the event, you can click the caret to categorize the event as Strength Training. You can now add hundreds of specific strength exercises to your activity. You can include metrics such as reps, time, and weight for each strength exercise you did.
  • Non-Negotiable Activities: Garmin Connect allows you to edit most Run, Walk, Cardio, and Other parameters. The operative word is most. You cannot edit Steps except with your accelerometer. You cannot edit Courses except with your GPS. You cannot edit Floors except with your barometer. You cannot edit Intensity Minutes except with your Elevate HRM. You cannot convert any non-manual activity into miles except one that you began by clicking “Run.” Even then, you have to be airborne for 10 minutes or longer for Garmin to recognize your selection as a true run. You have to generate a GPS map for your virtual friends and loving spouse for them to believe that you really were running. You have to get moving for steps, courses, floors, Intensity Minutes, and miles run!
  • Dual Activities: There are few dual activities with the VS HR+. If you select “Walk,” you cannot earn credits for running, swimming, biking, or miles. If you select “Run,” you cannot earn credits for swimming or biking. If you select “Cardio” or “Other,” you cannot earn credits for running. You always earn steps, floors, and Intensity Minutes no matter what activity you select. MoveIQ will always add your activities to your timeline but it will not give you credit for your Challenges. That is, if you are in a Challenge and need specific Run, Bike, or Swim credit, you must select Run or Cardio for such credit.
  • Syncing: Your watch may lose a step activity if you do not sync promptly. It won’t lose the activity itself, but it might lose the steps associated with that activity. Never wait past midnight to sync an important activity, as midnight seems to be the moment unsaved activities disappear.  Note that it is rare for unsynced steps to disappear. Lost steps might happen just once per month. Still, if you want to ensure that your steps count, then sync before the end of the day. It is also a good idea towards the end of the month to go into File Manager on your computer to delete a few of your oldest exercises. Without clearing space for new activities, your watch my reach its storage limits during the last few days of a month.
  • Conclusion: Many Garmin categories will award you credit or badges if you complete a specific exercise. You designate the specific exercise by editing your four principal Garmin Connect categories (walk, run, cardio, or other). You can edit most Garmin data that qualify you for Garmin’s virtual badges. You earn these badges immediately after editing your data (say by changing “cardio” to “wingsuit flight”). You cannot edit Garmin data that qualify you for aerobic health benefits or Garmin challenges. No cheating!

Tags: Garmin; Vivosmart; HR+; TrueUp; Elevate; heart rate monitor; GPS; map of routes; inaccurate maps; courses; Bluetooth; lost connections; goal streaks; recording an exercise; supported watches; unsupported watches; edit the exercise data.