The strap on my Garmin activity tracker broke last fall. It was no longer under warranty, and apparently the strap design is proprietary. The only way I could have it replaced was to return it to Garmin, and pay for shipment and repair. This would have cost almost as much as a new smartwatch.
I suffered throughout the fall without knowing my resting heart rate, sleep patterns, and daily steps. How did I manage? At the beginning of January, I couldn’t take it any longer. Prompted by a gift card Christmas gift, I replaced the watch with the Garmin Vivoactive 3.
I didn’t take this decision lightly. I was torn between a Smartwatch, or a Garmin Edge. The Edge is expensive, and only supports my cycling efforts. It would not track my indoor cycling workouts, or track my heart rate throughout the day and sleeping patterns. Since I have a feature rich cycling computer, and use Strava on many of my rides, I decided a Smartwatch would be most useful, and practical.
Following lengthy on-line research, I decided on the Garmin Vivoactive 3. It has features I didn’t have previously; GPS to track outdoor rides, walks, and hikes; REM sleep reporting; for each timed activity, Heart Rate Training Zones times for timed activities; hourly weather forecasts; a daily Stress Level; and, a VO2 Max estimation.
I have only been using the Vivosmart 3 for several weeks, but have been impressed. The heart rate monitor is accurate. I have compared the results with my heart rate chest strap. They are almost identical. And the distances and speeds reported are the same as measured by both STRAVA and my cycle computer. I don’t know how accurately it calculates REM sleep and VO2 Max, but it is certainly a much less expensive option than being tested at a lab.
The Vivoactive 3 is the practical solution for the recreational cyclist. You can invest in the Garmin Edge, smart trainer setups using Swift or Sufferfest, and bikes equipped with power meters but, to my mind, it is unnecessary. Maybe I’m cheap, or old fashioned, but I’d rather invest in a new set of carbon hoops, new kits, or another bike. The Vivoactive 3 + VDO cycle computer + STRAVA + a Keiser spinning bike is a compromise solution giving me all the tools I need to monitor, and improve my fitness.