Validating the Commercially Available Garmin Fenix 5x Wrist-Worn Optical Sensor for Aerobic Capacity


  • James C Anderson, Jr. University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA
  • Trent Chisenall University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA
  • Blake Tolbert University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA
  • Justin Ruffner University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA
  • Paul N. Whitehead University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA
  • Ryan T. Conners University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA



Garmin Fenix, Optical Sensor


Recreational exercisers continue to take a greater interest in monitoring their personal fitness levels. One of the more notable measurements that are monitored and estimated by wrist-worn tracking devices is maximum aerobic capacity (VO2max), which is currently the accepted measure of cardiorespiratory fitness. Traditional methods of obtaining VO2max present expensive barriers, whereas new wearable technology, such as of the Garmin Fenix 5x (GF5) provides a more cost-effective alternative. PURPOSE: To determine the validity of the GF5 VO2max estimation capabilities against the ParvoMedics TrueOne 2400 (PMT) metabolic measurement system in recreational runners. METHODS: Twenty-five recreational runners (17 male and 8 female) ages 18-55 participated in this study. Participants underwent two testing sessions: one consisting of the Bruce Protocol utilizing the PMT, while the other test incorporated the GF5 using the Garmin outdoor protocol. Both testing sessions were conducted within a few days of each other, with a minimum of 24 hours rest between sessions. RESULTS: The mean VO2max values for the PMT trial (49.1 ± 8.4 mL/kg/min) and estimation for the GF5 trial (47 ± 6.0 mL/kg/min) were found to be significantly different (t = 2.21, p = 0.037).   CONCLUSION: The average difference between the GF5 estimation and the PMT was 2.16 ml/kg/min.  Therefore, the watch is not as accurate compared to a PMT for obtaining VO2max.  However, although not statically significant, the proximity of scores to the PMT shows that the GF5 can be an option for a person seeking an affordable and easily available method of determining VO2max.  


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How to Cite

Anderson, J. C., T. Chisenall, B. Tolbert, J. Ruffner, P. N. Whitehead, and R. T. Conners. “Validating the Commercially Available Garmin Fenix 5x Wrist-Worn Optical Sensor for Aerobic Capacity”. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 147-58, doi:10.31686/ijier.vol7.iss1.1293.