Image source: Fitbit

How to use the Body Response metric on Fitbit Sense 2

Fitbit has recently announced a new Body Response metric. Used for more precise stress tracking it is only available on the Sense 2 watch. Here’s everything you need to know about this new feature and the improvements it brings.

The company has introduced a trio of new devices just ahead of IFA in Berlin. This includes Sense 2, Versa 4 and Inspire 3. Of course, the first on this list is the most advanced of the bunch.

One of its distinguishing features is something Fitbit calls Body Response. This is also one of the main upgrades as compared to the original Sense watch.


Fitbit Body Response – what is it & how to use

Fitbit EDA sensor

The wearables manufacturer’s devices have had the ability to monitor for stress for a number of years now. This is done through the heart rate sensor. Put simply, if you are not moving and your readings are elevated as compared to your baseline value – there’s a good chance you are under stress. Your heart rate variability readings also play a role when it comes to making this estimate.

Some watches, such as the original Sense and Charge 5, also have the ability to monitor electrodermal activity (EDA). The innovative multi-path EDA sensor is used to monitor electrical changes in your skin’s sweat levels. 

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When you are stressed, your body produces sweat in microbursts. This is why your palms might sweat before a job interview or when making an important presentation to a group of people.

The EDA sensor (also known as a Galvanic Skin Response sensor) measures these types of responses on your palm (on Sense watch) or fingertips (on Charge 5) with electrical micro-currents. These parts of the body are used because of the high density of sweat glands located there.

So how many EDA responses is normal?

Typically, a reading of 1 to 20 microsiemens is considered to be normal. Fewer responses mean you are less stressed. Interestingly, EDA is one of the measurements used in polygraph tests. Along with heart rate and respiration.

To trigger a 2 minute reading on Sense, you need to start the EDA Scan app on your watch while you are at rest. Cover the screen with your palm and sit still while the measurement is recorded. A reading shows the number of responses caused by stress or other factors (such as movement, noise, or temperature variations). You can then chart these over time. Along with keeping an eye on your overall stress score.

The procedure is not much different for Charge 5. But in this case you need to hold the sides of your device with your thumb and index finger.


Fitbit’s new cEDA sensor takes this further

Sense 2 is the best of the bunch when it comes to estimating how stressed you are. It comes with a new Body Response sensor on-board that is capable of continuously monitoring electrodermal activity (cEDA). Hence the “c” in the name. Through a technique that turns metal into vapour, the company has mouleded metal electrodes in the sensors into the Sense 2 display.

As mentioned above, these types of measurements are only available on demand on its predecessor and Charge 5. But now they are taken automatically throughout the day, without you having to lift a finger.

If Sense 2 determines you are under stress, you will receive a notification (if enabled in the settings) asking you to reflect on your emotions. So unlike other devices in the range that simply try to measure stress, Sense 2 will send you an alert to make you aware of the fact. The device will also provide suggestions on how to stay in a more chilled state including guided breathing, mindfulness and more.

You can tap into the past readings on the watch by opening up the Body responses tile. The coloured area shows the stress response.

Fitbit Body Response app

This can also be done via the smartphone app. Here you’ll see a bit more detail, including your trends.

Fitbit has developed a new algorithm to identify body responses that can help distinguish a negative from a positive response. To this end it combines info on heart rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature and electrodermal activity.

For example, smoking or drinking a cup of coffee might cause stress. A promotion at work or a baby born may cause stress – but in this case the response is normal and positive. And we all know about negative causes of stress.

The idea is to help you pinpoint these moments so that you can respond accordingly. Over time this may help you identify patterns and learn to cope with stress better over time.

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