With the latest iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2 update, Apple Watch users can view their cardio fitness level in the Health app on iPhone, and receive a notification on Apple Watch if it falls within the low range; people can measure low cardio fitness for dramatic long-term health benefits. With watchOS 7, Apple Watch’s takes advantage of the multiple sensors on the watch, including the optical heart sensor, GPS, and the accelerometer, to estimate lower levels, too. Apple claims that this is a significant feature as a direct measure of VO2 max typically demands a rigorous clinical test with specialized equipment that is not readily accessible to most people.
watchOS 7 also allows the Apple Watch to take cardio fitness measurements as users walk through the day, whether or not they are tracking a workout using the built-in modes. “With this innovation, Apple Watch is better able to measure VO2 max for users with low cardio fitness, who may not complete high-intensity workouts,” the company said.
Cardiorespiratory fitness, which is measured by VO2 max, is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise, and it can be increased through physical activity. Apple Watch can now estimate the average and higher levels of VO2 max during vigorous outdoor walks, runs, or hikes, which could be used by many runners and other athletes to monitor and improve performance.
Research suggests that cardio fitness is a stronger predictor of mortality risk than common risk factors like smoking, diabetes, and hypertension. “American Heart Association science associates low cardiorespiratory fitness levels with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality,” said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO.
Users of the Apple Watch can now visit the Health app on iPhone to set up the Cardio Fitness Levels feature and turn on cardio fitness notification, along with other several other health features like ECG, Fall Detection, and more.