A new update is finally bringing ECG to Garmin smartwatches

Garmin Instinct 2 worn on a wrist
(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

As first reported by our colleagues at Advnture it looks as though Garmin has had approval to launch a key ECG function for their best smartwatches. This long anticipated function will see Garmin finally catch up with one of the most usable Apple Watch features.

A smartwatch is our preferred option for recording mountain bike rides, so along with ECG, what other interesting rumored features are on the way? We had a look at what else could be coming...

A selection of Garmin smartwatches

(Image credit: Garmin)


Garmin has received FDA approval for its ECG app, meaning software updates for compatible devices could be coming anytime in the US. It’s taken Garmin a while to bring ECG recording to its smartwatches, considering the feature is a priority with its main competitors like Apple and Fitbit. It's also unclear which devices have the necessary hardware built in and we expect Garmin to announce this detail soon, along with the first ECG-capable watches potentially coming later in the year.

For those unclear Electrocardiogram (ECG) recording is seen as an important tool to have in detecting signs of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm) or AFib, which is a cause of strokes and heart issues. With ECG recording you can be alerted if you show signs of the condition with your updated device now being able to identify irregular heart rate rhythms.

Garmin had added that the ECG function is not intended to be used for medical purposes, and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition but can provide indication that something could be wrong with advice to always seek medical assistance.

Workout intensity adjustment 

The ability to tweak your chosen workout's intensity as you're working out via the watch's touchscreen, without having to restart or repeat the session is another long-awaited feature for Garmin smartwatches.

Having the option to quickly reduce or increase is nothing new and features in many of the best cycling apps like Zwift and Wahoo X, but if the rumors are true then it's a great addition to your training tools and Garmin smartwatch abilities.

SpO2 alerts

Finally, it looks like SpO2 notifications are coming too. SpO2 is the ability of a device to detect oxygen saturation levels and it having the capability to notify you, if your levels dip while sleeping.

This is incredibly useful in detecting medical conditions such as sleep apnea, which is when your breathing stops and starts whilst you are asleep, obviously a serious condition.

SpO2 readings can also be used for cyclists and athletes training at altitude but with blood oxygen readings from smartwatches not being overly accurate, it's unclear how useful this function would be.

With the ECG update confirmed for Garmin smartwatches which are already equipped with the necessary hardware, we await with interest on the other updates but look forward to them hopefully appearing soon.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.

Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm