Smartwatches can be a great tool to help people living with diabetes keep a healthy lifestyle.
These devices can help you manage your diet, heart rate, calorie intake, and even your blood oxygen. Becoming aware of these measures can help those with diabetes manage their blood glucose level.
Smartwatches cannot currently monitor blood glucose levels directly, but you can link external CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) systems to your smartwatch to get blood sugar readings on your watch.
Systems like Dexcom analyze the patient’s glucose level, then send the data to their watch (or smartphone).
Smartwatches can be a great tool for people living with diabetes, but there are so many to choose from. This can make it difficult to know which smartwatches are better for managing diabetes.
We can make your choice a little easier by listing the best smartwatches for diabetes below. We’ve done a lot of research to narrow down our list and have answered some common questions about smartwatches for diabetics.
Our buying guide is also full of information about what people living with diabetes should look for in smartwatches.
Fitbit is known for its high-performing fitness watches, and the Fitbit Sense is no exception!
Fitbit Sense can link with third-party CGMs to display blood glucose data. You can choose from a variety of watch faces that display blood sugar levels and trends over time.
The Fitbit Sense lets you print a PDF of your well-being statistics to show your doctor. The software is simple and fast, while the watch itself can last for 6 days without charging.
You can use Fitbit Sense to set and track diet plans, as well as calories burned. It also has a few sports profiles that let you track your training, along with a GPS that can give you more information about your outdoor activities.
- Connects with third-party CGMs – Displays blood glucose levels and trends
- Fairly accurate ECG app – accurately measures heart rate and rhythm
- Simple, sleek design – Suitable for a range of styles and professions
- Doesn’t link with many third-party apps
Apple has a lot of apps that can help people living with diabetes manage their condition, like Sugar Sense, Grab Manager, and Diabetes Tracker.
More importantly, you can link the watch with a Dexcom CGM to view your blood sugar data, as long as your watch is connected to your iPhone.
The Apple Series 7 also manages important health issues such as blood oxygen, heart rate, and oxygen consumption during exercise. Its ECG is very accurate and will notify you of any heart rate irregularities.
High stress and poor sleep can negatively affect those with diabetes, but the Series 7 comes with stress reduction exercises and sleep tracking features.
The Series 7 also has 18 hours of battery life but charges fully in just 2.5 hours. 32 GB of storage will let you store lots of apps, songs, and even videos, which you can now view on your smartwatch.
- Connects to Dexcom CGM – Lets you view your blood sugar data on your wrist
- 32 GB of storage – Lots of memory to store songs, apps, and videos
- Large durable display – Screen is easy to read and resists damage well
- Can only connect to Dexcom if you have an iPhone
- Battery life isn’t that long
With a crisp, bold AMOLED display, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 lets you read its display even when in the midday sun.
This smartwatch links with the Dexcom App to display blood sugar levels and trends over time. The Active 2 also has many watch faces that display this data for you to choose from.
Another feature that people with diabetes may find useful is its blood pressure detector, though you’ll have to ensure your watch has up-to-date software.
The watch will detect indoor activities at the gym and use its GPS feature to track outdoor sports. The GPS also means you won’t have to link the watch with your smartphone, as it detects your speed, pace, and distance on its own.
- Automatic heart rate detection – Notifies the user if the heart rate is irregularly low or high
- Pairs with Dexcom – Displays blood glucose data and trends
- Bold AMOLED display – Easy to read even with glare from sunlight
- Automatic sport mode detection can be delayed
TicWatch’s Pro 3 SmartWatch is ideal for those pursuing a healthy lifestyle. It has several sports modes and a 24-hour heart rate monitoring feature that are great for those wanting to improve their fitness.
This model has 8GB of internal memory that can store many apps and songs. You can also choose between two modes to make the battery last longer, with the primary mode delivering 45 days of battery life.
This model works well with Dexcom CGMs.
You can look at your energy intake, heart rate, blood oxygen, and sleep satisfaction. The watch can also link with apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun to track food intake and exercise levels.
Can smartwatches reliably show health data?
Smartwatches can display your blood glucose levels, but they won’t measure them themselves. They need to be linked with an external CGM system to acquire blood glucose information and are as accurate and reliable as the CGM you use.
Other than blood glucose data, smartwatches can help people with diabetes manage a healthy lifestyle. They can look at the wearer’s calorie intake, diet plan, and heart rate.
Some higher-end options can even measure blood oxygen, while others look at sleep patterns and stress levels.
These benefits sound amazing, but remember, none of these devices will be 100% accurate. Nevertheless, opting for a brand like Samsung, Fitbit, Garmin or Apple is a good idea. These will be more expensive, but their devices will be more accurate than cheaper options.
In most cases, obtaining a more reliable smartwatch will mean you’ll have to part with more money.
Additionally, a smartwatch’s accuracy will vary with the watch’s location and the user’s wrist steadiness. When the user measures their heart rate or blood pressure, they should aim to keep the arms and wrist as stable as they can.
Any movement can affect the measuring process and may deliver inaccurate results.
Smartwatches are improving all the time. For instance, Apple has consistently been making huge strides with technology.
Their modern watches now use updated PPG (Photoplethysmography), a process that uses light to detect heart rate and blood volume changes.
Current CGM devices that link with smartwatches
Monitoring blood sugar traditionally involves placing a sensor under the skin or puncturing the skin to measure levels in the blood. Smartwatch companies have been researching how to measure blood glucose non-invasively for a while, but they can’t currently do this.
Smartwatches may not be able to monitor blood glucose themselves, but they can connect to a CGM device to display the data.
Here are some of the CGM devices that can currently link to smartwatches. You should consider these options before purchasing your smartwatch.
Dexcom’s G6 model is the brand’s most up-to-date glucose monitor. It uses a sensor to continually measure glucose over a ten-day term. The sensor has a small needle that reaches interstitial fluid under the skin, held in place with an adhesive patch on the skin’s surface.
The G6 can connect to smartwatches to display data on these devices. It can also send this information to Android and iPhone smartphones through Bluetooth.
The G6 will monitor glucose levels and send alerts when they are too low. It’s FDA approved and suitable for anyone over the age of 2, so both adults and children can wear it.
Freestyle Libre 2
The Freestyle Libre also measures interstitial fluid to deliver data like the Dexcom. A circular pod is placed on the skin’s surface, using Near Field Communication to connect to your phone. You simply tap your smartphone on the pod to see the glucose readings.
The data is then stored in the smartphone app, but you can download compatible apps that let you see the same data on your smartwatch.
These sensors will tell you your current blood glucose reading, information over the last eight hours, and blood sugar trends over a certain period. The sensor will last for 14 days before it needs replacing.
Supersapiens was created by Abbott, who also created Libre 2. Supersapiens differs as it was specifically designed for endurance athletes. The device would tell them how to fuel their body effectively for training purposes.
Supersapiens uses a glucose biosensor that sends data to the app using NFC, just like the Libre 2.
Supersapiens created the Energy Band, a smartwatch-like device that displays blood glucose data on your wrist. The wearer won’t need to reach for their phone as the biosensor links straight to the Energy Band, displaying glucose data in real-time.
However, the Energy Band doesn’t offer other smartwatch features, like heart-rate data. It also only lasts 24 hours before needing to be charged, but it does recharge in 90 minutes, which is relatively quick.
Ways smartwatches can help people living with diabetes
Here are some of the advantages smartwatches can have for those living with diabetes.
Lets people with diabetes manage their condition
One of the best ways of controlling diabetes is through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Smartwatches can be a great tool that lets patients look after their well-being.
Smartwatches linked to a blood glucose monitoring system are one of the simplest ways of doing so.
These devices can act as a consistent medical checkup. For instance, if a patient with diabetes’ blood sugar lowers or rises too much, they’ll get an alert on their smartwatch, indicating that they need to take action.
No (or less) pricking fingers
One of the drawbacks of living with diabetes is finger pricking to measure blood glucose levels. Finger pricking can be painful and may be disturbing for those that don’t like seeing blood.
Smartwatches can be linked with non-invasive glucose detection technology. This lets people living with diabetes monitor their blood glucose without needing to prick their fingers.
Smartwatches allow you to check your blood glucose levels many times throughout the day, whether you’re at home, traveling, or exercising.
Reads blood sugar levels quickly and discreetly
Traditional blood glucose detection methods can take time to carry out. Smartwatches linked with CGMs allow people living with diabetes to check their blood sugar quickly and efficiently by just glancing at their wrist.
This can be very convenient in meeting, social gatherings, and other places where you may prefer to check your blood sugar discreetly.
It is also very practical when exercising, driving, or doing anything else where you don’t want to stop to check your blood sugar on your phone or with a finger stick.
More socially acceptable than checking smart phone
Diabetes patients may be able to check their blood sugar through their smartphones, but there are many instances where checking your phone isn’t acceptable.
The patient may be driving their car, in a meeting, or if younger, maybe in school. Checking your phone isn’t very discreet, and may result in penalties when on the road or during class.
Smartwatches can deliver a notification without playing sounds on the user’s phone. Some offer a vibrate option that won’t be noticed by others in the same environment.
The wearer simply has to glance at their wrist to keep an eye on the numbers, without looking disrespectful of their surroundings.
Smartwatches also allow the patient to check their blood glucose without being distracted by other smartphone apps. This is ideal for those that want to improve their productivity, as they can use their smartwatch to check their blood sugar while working.
Easy and Convenient To Use
Smartwatches are designed to be worn regularly, so they give patients a way to continuously monitor their blood glucose.
All you have to do is press a button to access information about your blood sugar level. It doesn’t require any special skills to operate, just a glance at your watch.
Traditional finger-pricking methods need tools that can be cumbersome, but smartwatches track many health metrics in a portable device. They are light enough to be worn on the wrist without the user feeling restricted.
Smartwatches are available in many finishes, so they can suit a range of styles and outfit preferences. Some are bold and bright, which are better for wearing while exercising.
Others are sleek and discreet, which won’t look out of place in a professional setting. It isn’t always possible to run a finger prick test, but smartwatches are understated enough to check during a meeting, workout, or class.
What to look for when purchasing a smartwatch
Other than your choice of CGM, there are other things people living with diabetes should consider before buying a smartwatch.
Take a look at the rest of our handy buyer’s guide below to see what you should look out for!
Accuracy is more of an issue with your CGM, as this will be the device that measures your blood glucose. Despite this, accuracy also matters when considering other metrics, like heart rate or blood oxygen.
The wearer needs as accurate information as possible to get a better understanding of their health. This will let them know where they are making progress and where they need to improve.
All of this is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which is key when living with diabetes.
Other than linking to a CGM, your smartwatch should have a range of health features that help you with your well-being. Features like measuring heart rate and calorie intake can help you keep fit.
Higher-end smartwatches may have features like measuring blood oxygen, though this might not be necessary depending on your needs.
Your budget will be a factor that determines what features your watch will have, but basic models should still have a decent selection of health features.
Smartwatches tend to be designed with comfort in mind, but you should make sure that your choice isn’t too heavy on your wrist.
You’ll also need to make sure that your smartwatch isn’t too large or small for your needs. This mainly depends on your build, but your lifestyle affects this too.
Athletes and those that exercise often may need a bolder design, while working professionals may prefer a sleeker look.
The watch face also matters. There’s no point in buying a smartwatch if you keep squinting to read it!
It’s important to buy a smartwatch with a long life span, especially with diabetes patients, as they’ll be wearing their smartwatch almost constantly to get CGM readings.
Your smartwatch should have a decent battery life so you won’t have to keep charging it too often.
Recharging time also matters, as your model shouldn’t need to take most of the day to fully recharge.
Whether you’re washing your hands or taking a dip in a pool, a good smartwatch should be water-resistant. People with diabetes may even prefer to wear their smartwatch in the shower to get CGM alerts, so your model should hold up to water well.
Smartwatches won’t be completely waterproof, but try to look for models that can live in water 5 feet deep or shallower. These should be able to survive in the shower, washing hands, or even swimming.
Frequently asked questions
What benefits can people living with diabetes get from smartwatches?
People living with diabetes can manage their condition by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Smartwatches have many health features that can help diabetics gain a better understanding of their health.
Calorie intake, sleep quality, and heart rate are all some of the things smartwatches can track. They can also link to continuous glucose monitors (CGM) to display blood sugar levels.
Can smartwatches monitor blood sugar?
Smartwatches currently cannot measure blood sugar directly from the wrist. However, they can link to continuous blood glucose monitors to display blood sugar data. CGMs are usually worn on the skin’s surface.
They normally have sensors that penetrate the skin, measuring interstitial glucose levels. This is the glucose content of fluid between cells.
Once they have this data, they can connect to smartphones and smartwatches with an app that displays this data.
Are there any downsides to using smartwatches to manage diabetes?
Traditional finger-pricking methods to measure blood sugar can take a lot of time. It can also be uncomfortable as the process draws blood. However, this method lets you know what your glucose levels are for that precise moment.
Smartwatches link to CGMs which show glucose levels beneath the skin. It takes longer for glucose levels to show in interstitial fluid compared to within the blood. This means that CGMs may show a delayed blood glucose reading.
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