“Play harder, work smarter, live better with vívoactive”.

The vivoactive campaign makes a bold claim to improve lives with its dedicated sports app watch, designed to be worn everyday to help you keep a healthy balance between work and life. The vivoactive promises to be a blend of the vivofits activity tracking, with the GPS qualities of Garmin’s more expensive watches like the forerunner.

Garmin Vivoactive

The Vivoactive Design

The vivoactive watch features a small digital touch screen, with a 3.5cm square screen and digital interactive display. It’s small enough to pull off without being clunky on my small wrists, but big enough that it can be read clearly, even under direct sunlight. It’s also lightweight weighing in at just 38g, light for GPS. I’ve got the watch in white with a silicone strap however, it is available in black as well. The strap is interchangeable and can be swapped with a variety of different straps from leather to pink. As the watch isn’t a heart rate monitor, there’s no need to worry that a customised strap will affect your readings, so you can really go to town with it and make the watch more your own.

Garmin Vivoactive Boxed

Garmin Vivoactive Activity Tracking

The watch is, for the most part, touch screen with two small buttons either side, one for switching on and off and the other to begin sports activity tracking. One select of the right button will lead to your activity menu, for which there is plenty of choice. Previously Garmin has created good running watches or good activity trackers, the vivoactive combines them both.

Steps and Inactivity

Don’t be fooled by the humble home screen, your daily activity stats are just a scroll away. The activity screen displays your daily steps goal, which is calculated automatically. The goal’s progressive, so the aim is to gently increase your steps each day, however if you fall off the bandwagon the watch also regresses your steps to build you back up again and keep your goal achievable. The step counter is far more generous than my Mio Fuse, however the watch was worn on my dominant hand and this is something that has been shown to disrupt your step count, adding steps from waving your wrists around as you talk, to typing and driving.

Along the bottom of the step counting screen, you have your movebar, this starts clear, and builds into a red bar the less you move. Your first alert comes after just under an hour of inactivity and by the time you’ve reached the fifth bar, you really have been seated for too long. Simply getting up and walking around will clear your bar. Each inactivity alert strikes with a gentle vibration, I found this particularly useful as when I’m ‘in the zone’ writing, I rarely hear anything other than the voice in my head and the tapping of the keyboard, so the vibration was a great way to make sure I don’t miss the opportunity to make my move. With the dangers of sitting being life threatening, this is a really great tool. For more information on the risks associated with inactivity see: http://www.ehoh.info/

Automatic sleep detection

Should you choose to snooze with the watch, it automatically detects sleep, which can also be triggered manually at any time by tapping your activity screen and selecting start sleep. There are a few things I’ve noticed with sleep detection, firstly, when I go to bed without the watch, it recognises being sat on my dressing table as a perfect night's sleep, and secondly, there is no sleep feedback on the watch itself so it’s hard to know whether it recognized the right time or not. Once opened in the Connect IQ application, users can discover the total duration of their sleep, differentiate between light and deep sleep and also scroll through a breakdown of their movement.


As a running partner, the vivoactive has two training modes, one for indoor and one for outdoor running. Whilst the trainer lacks a heart rate sensor of it’s own, it can be linked easily with an external device to enhance the quantity of data feedback from your training. Unless you link with a heart rate monitor you don't get full credit for all the activity you've done. I linked with the Mio Fuse, however it does mean I’m rocking the double watch look. (Not sure if it’s as big a sin as double denim, but it does feel a bit silly). When you enter running mode, a small vibration will alert you when your GPS is ready to track your route. During the run, the screen displays distance, time, pace, lap distance, lap time, heart rate, heart rate zone and average heart rate. The info is easy to tap and scroll through on the move, although I found the screen too small to view my stats at arms length, unlike my Mio which I’m sure can be read by anyone who passes within 10 feet of me, but that's another matter.

The indoor running mode brings about the same screen, without the GPS feedback. Users can set up alerts to monitor their heart rate zone or act as reminders throughout their run.


The watch also has two cycling modes, indoors and outdoors. But again, the difference is only really the GPS settings. The watch itself doesn’t have a cadence measure, however you can connect external devices for a more rounded view of your performance. If you don’t pair any sensors when you're cycling indoors, the watch is basically just a stopwatch, although with sensors it can become so much more, reading speed, cadence, temperature and heart rate.


The watch is 5 AMT waterproof, meaning you can take it to the pool concern free. Before you start swimming you can customise the length of your pool for accurate tracking and then you’re good to go. A tap of the right button starts your swim by sending a vibration through the watch, which lasts about 3 seconds, however it feels like much longer as it’s rather loud and I must admit I felt a little embarrassed, I could certainly feel my cheeks burning. Once you’re over the embarrassment of your vibrating clacson the watch disables the touch screen, so not to interfere with your stats as you swim. Be prepared for that noisy vibration every time you press the button to complete an interval. The watch reads your laps, distance, strokes and interval count in swim mode.

The most frustrating thing with this watch was (believe it or not) telling the time. During activity you have the time you’ve spent exercising but not the actual time of day and to get back to the watch face you have to interrupt your activity, which is a pain.

Vivoactive Awards:

  • The vivoactive has won multiple awards for its performance:
  • Gold award - Men’s running 2015 awards
  • Bronze award - Women’s Running 2015 awards
  • Bronze award - Golfmagic
  • Platinum award - T3

Overall Activity Tracker Rating

Overall I found this was an activity tracker with potential. As a stand alone product, I feel the feedback though good, is quite basic and for more detailed feedback of your workout you’d need multiple add on products, such as a heart rate strap, foot pod, bike speed sensor and bike cadence sensor. If you have all of these already, the watch is the perfect tool to consolidate all your data on one easy to use device.

Vivoactive’s upgrade the HR, looks to be the answer to all the things I felt this watch lacked. See details here