With iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2, 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.
With watchOS 7, Apple Watch uses multiple sensors, including the optical heart sensor, GPS, and the accelerometer, to estimate lower levels, too. Apple says this is a significant feature as direct measurement of VO2 max typically requires a rigorous clinical test with specialised equipment that is not readily accessible to most people.
Apple Watch already estimates average and higher levels of VO2 max during vigorous outdoor walks, runs, or hikes, which many runners and other athletes monitor to improve performance.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is measured by the VO2 max and is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise. This can be improved by doing more physical activity. The better your VO2 Max levels are, the more fitter and active you are.
You can turn on the feature by heading over to the Health app in your iPhone and enabling the Cardio Fitness toggle.
The VO2 Max tracking feature will be available for all Apple watches from Series 3 onwards.
“Cardio fitness is increasingly recognised 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,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
“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”, he added.