What you need to know
- Apple Watch now tracks low levels of VO2 max.
- The watch was already tracking regular and high levels before today's update.
In a press release, Apple has announced that with the release of iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2, Apple Watch users can track and also receive a notification if their cardio fitness level falls into the low range. The Apple Watch had already tracked regular and high levels of VO2 max, which is a key sign of cardio performance, but the latest update to watchOS 7 now allows the Apple Watch to detect and track lower levels as well.
Now, with watchOS 7, Apple Watch uses multiple sensors, including the optical heart sensor, GPS, and the accelerometer, to estimate lower levels, too. This is significant because direct measurement of VO2 max typically requires a rigorous clinical test with specialized equipment that is not readily accessible to most people. watchOS 7 also allows Apple Watch to take cardio fitness measurements as users walk throughout the day, whether or not they are tracking a workout. 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.
Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, says that the company is excited to democratize this kind of detection that would normally require a visit to a specialized doctor's office.
"Cardio fitness is increasingly recognized as a powerful predictor of overall health, and with today's update to watchOS 7, we are making it even more accessible to more people ... Using its advanced sensors, Apple Watch now brings estimation of low cardio fitness levels from clinics directly to a user's wrist, so people have more insight into how they can improve their long-term health through daily activity."
Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, says that these technologies will help empower even more people to take agency over their own health.
"American Heart Association science associates low cardiorespiratory fitness levels with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The American Heart Association is focused on helping all people equitably achieve longer, healthier lives, and we believe that emerging technology solutions can empower individuals to manage their own health."
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