Image source: Garmin

Garmin Connect and Apple Health sync: how to set-up, troubleshooting

Garmin Connect and Apple Health are designed to play nice. If you have a Garmin watch you can sync a lot of your data over to the Apple app. Here’s how to set up the connection and troubleshoot any issues that might arise.


How can I share my Garmin Connect data with Apple Health?

All Garmin watches work with the Garmin connect smartphone app. The software is fairly good, even if it takes a bit of getting used to. Garmin has been improving the app over the years although it still leaves a bit to be desired.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

The obvious question is why you would want to sync Garmin data over to the Apple Health app. Well, there are certain advantages to doing this.

If you have an iPhone, you have the Apple Health app already installed on your device. Syncing the data will not affect in any way what is sitting in Garmin Connect. But you will also have some of this data in Apple Health.

The Cupertino company’s software has the advantage in that it offers support for many other devices. In a sense, it is designed to act as a repository for all your health and fitness data. It is not there yet, but this is the direction it is going in.

Time needed: 10 minutes.

Setting Garmin Connect and Apple Health to communicate is not very difficult. The steps are as follows.

  1. Open up the Apple Health app and navigate to settings

    The easiest way to do this is to tap on your picture in the top right hand corner. Scroll down until you see Apps.

  2. Choose Apps

    This will display a list of apps that you can link (or have linked) with Apple Health

  3. Select Garmin Connect

    You’ll recognise it by the Garmin logo next to it.

  4. Follow the instructions to establish a link

    You’ll be asked to approve the connection.

  5. The Apple Health app allows you to choose which data to sync

    Choose Turn On All, or toggle the individual categories on or off – as per your preference.

  6. You can check that you are connected in the Garmin app

    Do this by opening settings in Garmin Connect, navigating to Connected Apps. You should see Apple Health in the list. Tap on this and you’ll see a confirmation that you are, indeed, connected.

A few important things should be mentioned at this stage.

The data sync is only in one direction. So Apple Health data cannot find its way into the Garmin app. Also, the type of data that can be synced from Garmin Connect depends on the device that you own. Not all options from the screenshot above may be available.

Finally, the sync is done whenever you connect your watch to the Garmin Connect app. The info will not be ported over if Garmin Connect is closed or in the background. The Garmin software needs to be open – and in the foreground – in order for the data sync to complete fully with Apple Health.


What type of Garmin data can I sync with Apple Health?

You can sync quite a bit of info from Garmin Connect to Apple Health. But no, you can’t sync everything. And as mentioned – it depends on the Garmin fitness tracker or watch that you own.

Data that can potentially find its way to Apple’s software includes:

  • steps,
  • walking and running distance,
  • active energy,
  • floors climbed,
  • weight/body fat percentage/body mass index (if you have a connected scale or manually enter data),
  • resting energy,
  • sleep data and
  • water.

Workouts are also synced. But any GPS data will not be written to Apple Health.

As far as heart rate, you can sync all-day heart rate (including resting heart rate), along with high and low heart rate values from workouts. So not all heart rate data will be ported. This may result in a “Chart Unavailable” message for a workout in the Apple Activity app. Without GPS data and complete heart rate beat-to-beat info, the data from your Garmin workouts that shows in Apple software is quite limited.


What to do if the data is not syncing

You may have done all of the steps above and found that the data sync between the two apps is unsuccessful. Or it may have worked for a while but it is not working now. There are several things you can do to troubleshoot.

First, know that Apple Health can receive data from multiple sources. If more than one source of the same type of data is available, Apple will pick data from the one which is of higher priority in its app.

The order can be customized by going into the settings for that particular metric in the Apple Health app – for example steps. Simply re-order the data sources as per your preference. Presumably, you will want Garmin to be on top.

Even if you don’t have another smartwatch, the iPhone itself can count steps. And this might have priority over the Garmin step count.

You can uncheck the iPhone step count by going to Settings/Privacy. Scroll until you see Movement & fitness. Tap on this and turn the toggle for Fitness Tracking to off. But it is better to simply reorder in the priority list in the Apple Health app so that Garmin is above.

There are several other troubleshooting steps.

  • Keep in mind that not all Garmin data can be synced to Apple Health. Review the list above for data that can be shared. There is currently no native way to get GPS and complete heart rate data for workouts from Garmin to Apple.
  • Make sure you have given enough time for the Garmin Connect app to sync to Apple Health. Sometimes the data might be a bit late. So, for example, your step count might be lower in Apple Health. It might be because the full day’s data has not synced over just yet. Try hitting the refresh/sync button in Garmin Connect to force a sync – and give it time to complete fully.
  • Check that the time zone settings are correct on your phone. Otherwise, there’s a possibility that not everything will have the correct time-stamp.
  • It is good to have the latest version of Garmin Connect and Apple Health on your phone. Sometimes bugs appear and subsequent versions of the software can help to squash them. Although it can be the other way around… For example, about a year ago an update to the Garmin Connect app rendered the sync with Apple Health inoperable for many users. This was resolved soon after. But there’s a very long thread on Garmin forums discussing the issue.

If all else fails, users have reported on forums that deleting the Garmin app from your iPhone and reinstalling it often resolves sync issues. Don’t worry – your Garmin data will not be lost – it lives in the cloud. But you will need to re-enter your Garmin username and password when you reinstall the app. You could even try forgetting the connection in Apple Health and re-establishing it.

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