How smartwatches are dealing with stress for the mind and body

By Amit Sinsinwal

New Delhi/ 19 January 2020: To improve your overall mental and physical health, smartwatch brands have now introduced stress monitoring in their devices that helps you dive more deeply into your mental health management in addition to physical wellbeing.

We live in uncertain and stressful times. This is why we need constant monitoring of your entire lifestyle. Thus, say hello to smartwatches! Gone are the days when smartwatches used to be just a fashion accessory, the wearable device has now upgraded to being a fitness tracker, health monitor and a lot more. Imagine if you were automatically reminded via a tap on your wrist to take a timeout and just breathe and stay calm based on elevated levels of stress signals in your body. Wouldn’t that be great!

This is exactly what a smartwatch with a stress monitoring feature does for you. It’s not just about looking after your mental wellbeing. Smartwatches are also using these physiological measurements to offer an insight into the kind of stresses put on the body through exercise or any physical or emotional tension. 

Now coming to the unanswered query: how smartwatches regulate your stress levels? When your HRV (Heart Rate Variability) and hormonal levels fluctuate repeatedly, the sensors present in the smartwatches track your stress levels and some even display the stress score if you are experiencing a stressful moment in your day. 

If you have a high heart rate variability, that’s commonly considered a good thing. Low HRV reading is usually associated with stress. The likes diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol are medical issues commonly associated with some having a low heart rate variability.

The other big area of stress tracking relates to fitness and exercise. So this is the concept of using the same heart rate variability measurements, to help indicate the strain and stresses put on the body after a workout and what it can mean from your recovery. A high HRV usually indicates that the body is in good shape, while a low HRV during activity could be an indication that you’re fatigued, dehydrated, stressed or even unwell, which would impact your ability to train and exercise.

Stress monitoring can only be great if the technology it relies on to provide those insights is reliable. In most cases, we are talking about optical heart rate monitors, which have rightfully been called into question over how accurate and reliable they are. So while deciding to go for a smartwatch, one must consider the heart rate sensor as an important feature in the smartwatch of your choice.

The author is the Director of OSS Infocom.

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