Intensity minutes are absurd (way too many). My settings are ignored.

I have just started using my first Garmin device, a Vivosmart 5. And I have a very annoying issue with the measured minutes of intensity. They are completely off.

I noticed the issue already after the first day, which I have spent almost entirely at my desk. My data claims that I have spent 414 minutes of intensity (48min moderate and 2x183 minutes high) which is completely absurd. Now, I am suffering from tachykardia, so I started experimenting with the settings.

  • The first thing I did was turning on using heart-rate zones but leaving the predetermined zones intact. Which  changed nothing.
  • Then, I changed moderate intensity to zone 4 (instead of 3) and high intensity to zone 5 (instead of 4). Without effect, I still had a completely unrealistic amount of intensity minutes.
  • Then I manually set the BPM values for the zones and did some experimentation. My current setting is 104 to 149 for zone 2 (!), 150 to 159 for zone 3, 160 to 169 for zone 4 and 170 and above for zone 5. Moderate intensity is still set to zone 4 and high intensity to zone 5. With this settings, even with my tachycardia, I should get zero minutes of intensity.

 You may have guessed it already? I still have an absurd amount of intensity minutes. Here is an example of today: I did a 39:09 minute walk. I have spent the entirety of this walk in zones 1 (3:10) and 2 (35:59). My data clearly shows it. It also shows that the zones have been measured according to my BPM settings (104 to 149 for zone 2). But still, on the same data page, it says that I have spent 6 minutes in moderate and 32 (x2) minutes in high intensity. How can that be, when zone 4 (moderate) only should start at a heart rate of 160. How can that be, when I have spent the entire walk below 149 bpm?

 After all that experimentation my best assumption is, that the switch for turning on BPM-zones as a measure for intensity minutes is just broken. It seems to me, even though you want to use BPM-zones, the device still uses the "Garmin-method" (aka *** method).

 This bug has far reaching complications for me. I am also following my calory intake with another app. And this app draws activity data from Apple health. Since intensity minutes also seem to lead to a high amount of burnt calories, my nutrition app allowed me to eat and absurd amount of additional calories. If I would follow that, I would gain instead of loose weight.  To circumvent that, I have disallowed Garmin Connect to write activity energy into Apple Health, so Yazio does not draw incorrect data.

I don't know how many hours I've spent during the last days to figure out all of that. But it certainly was time I would have loved to spent otherwise instead of doing the job of Garmin's quality control (is there any?)


  • Same problem:

    To calculate intensity minutes, Vivosmart 5 uses default MHR even after I adjusted and saved a higher MHR.  Since I have a higher MHR than default (220-age, probably), I receive too many intensity minutes. The watch does, however, use the adjusted MHR to calculate zones, so the zones logged for activities are correct, only the intensity minutes are inaccurate. Seems like a software issue with the calculation.

    These actions do not fix the problem: watch re-set by holding down the button for 10 seconds, watch re-set via the double gear widget, updating the watch software via a computer, updating  GC on the phone, restarting the phone.

  • Update - Garmin will swap out the watch for a new one.

  • Great, could you link to this information please? Is there reference for that?

  • There is no formal recall of which I am aware, so no reference. I suggest calling Garmin and letting them look at your activities so that they can verify that the intensity minutes are not calculated according to the heart rate zones that you have set them for. The Garmin people I talked with were not aware of any other instance of this problem nor of your post here. This is probably why they opted to try swapping out the watch (easy fix) before delving into the code (hard fix).

    Good luck, and let us know what happens.

    I just sent in my watch today and will post once I have the new one and can tell whether it solves the problem.

  • After 12 days of wearing the new watch, including at night, the problem remains. I conclude that the VivoSmart5 is unable to count intensity minutes other than in default mode. This runs counter to what the Garmin website says about this watch and to the presence of settings under Activity Tracking that allow you (theoretically) to set the zones for intensity minutes.

  • Thanks for the heads up. Good to know. They are selling a faulty product and are not even acknowleding it. Shame on them.

  • Update: The inability of intensity minutes (IM) to be calculated based on user settings instead of default remains. Garmin representatives have admitted to the discrepancy on the phone but not over email - the crux of the issue is carefully dodged in writing. However, Garmin recently collected data from my GC and says they are working with it. I also alerted them to this post and OP’s data at the top.

    OP made the key point: if one uses the VS5 to connect to another program in a manner that relies upon IM to track, for example, calories, then one needs to be able to define vigorous and moderate IM, especially if they have a maximum heart rate that is higher or lower than average. It would be ideal if Garmin debugged the software. Second best would be to remove the corresponding buttons under Activity Tracking and to frankly state that this is not a capability of the VS5. I will keep monitoring VIM and MIM across activities and report back on any changes.

  • Thanks for the effort you are putting in this. The way they handle this is very disappointing. I will not financially support a company that is trying to deceive its customers in the future.

  • I'm having the exact same problem. The only exercise I do is walking, I'm in a my 70s. I've set the zones to the highest level and I shouldn't be getting any intensity minutes,the last time I looked today I'd already accumulated over 200 intensity minutes.Garmin are not interested blaming everything and not admitting that there's a fault . I want my money back but I don't know where to go moving forward. They're not even offering me a replacement, I'm so angry

  • Exactly. Under Activity Tracking, Weekly Intensity Minutes, we can toggle the setting to Use Heart Rate Zones, but the zones we choose are ignored. Default intensity minutes are calculated instead.

    The 3.02 software update did not include a fix. Garmin needs to address the problem.