Garmin ​Vivosmart HR tips and tricks

Get more from your Garmin fitness tracker

The Garmin Vivosmart HR and its slightly improved brother the Vivosmart HR+ are some of our favourite fitness trackers here at Wareable.

The two bands have reviewed well in our tests, especially the Vivosmart HR+, which is now our top choice for runners who'll get extra mileage from the built-in GPS.

Essential reading: Garmin Fenix 5 review

But there's more to these devices than meets the eye, and there's a bunch of hidden options that makes your Vivosmart experience even better. Read on for our Garmin Vivosmart HR tips.

Custom stride length for treadmill running

One for Vivosmart HR users who don't have the benefit of GPS, this trick can sharpen up distances and spare you taking your phone out for a run. It's also dead useful for treadmill users, too.

First you'll have to run a set distance so head down to your local running track and run 400m. Note the amount of steps. In the Garmin Connect app go to menu > Garmin devices > User Settings > Custom Stride length and enter the distance you ran and the amount of steps. That will determine your stride length, which will in turn, make non-GPS runs more accurate.

Change your goals

By default your Garmin Vivosmart HR device will automatically set you goals based on your exercise history, and these will change the longer you use your device. Of course, you can change these within Garmin Connect.

It took us about 40 minutes to find this option, so let's save you some time. Go to Garmin Connect ( and then Menu > Devices. Head into your activity tracking device and then go to User Settings. Go down and head to Goals. Turn off Auto Goal if it's on and then type in the amount of steps you want to hit. Don't forget to press Save.

Use your Garmin as a HR monitor

You can also pair the Garmin Vivosmart HR up to other Garmin devices and use the heart rate monitor in Broadcast Mode. This would be a whole lot better if it was open to apps like Strava or RunKeeper, but there you go.

On the device, head to Setting > Heart Rate and swipe to Broadcast Mode and tap the option to start. Then fire up your Garmin device that you want to receive the data. This is good for cycling devices such as the Edge 520 or VIRB action camera which requires external monitors, but could've been so much more useful.

Change running data layout

You can also change the order in which running and sport tracking data is presented mid-workout. If you're the kind of runner who likes to see certain metrics, it means you can customise the experience to be easier for you.

In the web interface for Garmin Connect and then Menu > Devices. Head into your device and then go to Run Settings. A list of menu screens will be displayed numbered from 1-4. You can choose a new order by clicking the drop down menu.

Configure alarm

You can use your Garmin Vivosmart HR as an alarm, but the time has to be set with the Garmin Connect app. Head to settings > Garmin devices > Vivosmart HR and then choose Device settings. The top option is Alarm, which you'll need to toggle on. Set the time and frequency and then hit the back button to have it applied. Your device should sync and the alarm will be set.

Change screen orientation

You can have your Garmin Vivosmart HR set up in portrait or landscape mode, depending how you prefer to use your device. While this option is presented during set up, you can change it at any time.

To customise the screen layout go to Garmin Connect web interface and then Menu > Devices. Head into your device and select Device Settings. At the bottom you can choose the orientation, and also choose which wrist you wear your tracker on, too.

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  • Vonda·

    excellent info ill be getting one today

  • Susanslb·

    Thanks for the info.

    Is there any way I can change "other" to "cycling permanently? It appears that when I've been out for a bike ride I can manually alter it as I managed to do that once, but as I bike 3 days per week, it would be nice for it to just show up as such.

    • Pauuulb·

      Did you ever find a way to do this? I would like to do the same.

  • mamado·

    Has the garmin vivid smart the function to set an alarm for every 15 minutes ? Do any other fitness trackers have this ?

  • Rrodz·

    my vivosmart hr + is dark, display is all black in the dark. Not sure if it's supposed to be that way. Have to use flashlight on my phone to check garmin screen. 

    • Pauuulb·

      Mine lights up when I tap the screen. On the device itself update can set the brightness in Settings > Screen Preferences > Backlight Brightness.

      • Lynkster·

        I followed your suggestion making the setting CHG and phone sync. Still dark at night . New HR+. Can't see it at night without a light. What's up? Thanks.

  • Jaysim·

    I was riding in a van in China over bumpy roads. the steps feature went berserk and showed I ran up 88 flights of steps. Is there any way I can manually change this?

  • ReneePearson·

    I have charged the battery on my new vivosmart hr+

    How do I remove the battery charger from the device?  it snapped in place to start the charging process, but now will not come off easily. I do not want to break the unit.

    • brozikla·

      looking for an answer to this question!! please help!!

      • coreydwillis·

        There is a little tab that sticks out on the side of the charging unit that you press on to release it from watch.

  • REC3·

    I got a vivofit3 and having trouble setting the alarm. Using the Garvin Connect app, I can go to Device Settings, switch the Alarm Toggle to ON, set the alarm, but when I use the back button, the alarm function returns to OFF every time. I tried syncing before hitting the back button but that didn't help either. Suggestions?

  • petter·

    Hello, my vivosmart HR won't record naps or if I wake up at night and fall asleep again After 1 h or so. Is therea trick for getting it record more than one continious sleep per night?

    • EyeOfTheTiger·

      Use your phone's Garmin Connect app to edit the recorded sleep start & end times. On the single-day sleep screen, press the pencil icon on the top right. Sorry, but it only gets one sleep period per day.

  • AGT·

    Having inserted the incorrect stride lenght I have tried to change it with little luck.

    I have gone into user settings>custom stride, but custom stride is not highlighted therefore I cannot alter the existing number

  • DitchIt·

    it is not quite what it makes out to be:

    1. Broadcast mode is so inaccurate it is embarrassing

    2. Maintaining a steady connection with a smart phone is just funny

    3. Under water performance is a pure joke as movement through the water changes the screen

    4. I'm sick of how pathetic it is.

  • jen·

    Hello! I love love love my vivosmart HR, but the time has stopped updating when I sync with my phone.  I was in Asia and had to manually change it, now I'm back and looking like I'll have to manually change it again. Previously when I switched time zones, or daylight savings, etc, once I synced with my phone, it would change.  Now, it isn't.  any suggestions? thanks!

  • Lynkster·

    Hi. I navy's new HR+ is stuck on Battery Low even after I recharged it. Is there a reset option?.  

  • NorAre·

    Does not work as advertised and can not get it to sync with phone no matter what I try. Used to work but they changed something and now nothing. No help from tech support. Do not recommend this device to anyone. Only thing good at is counting steps.