New low VO2 Max feature comes to Apple Watch

The update allows Apple's wearable to provide the measurement during low-intensity workouts.
By Laura Lovett
01:00 am
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Apple is rolling out a new low VO2 Max feature on its Apple Watches, MobiHealthNews has learned. Instead of doing an intense run or workout to capture the measurement, folks can take a walk or a stroll to find out their VO2 Max, which is a measure of overall fitness. 

In order to get the measurement users must go through an onboarding process that collects their demographic data and walks them through what VO2 Max means. The feature uses data from multiple sensors as well as details such as age, sex, weight, height and whether or not the user is taking any medications effect their heart beat. 

Based on this information, users will get a fitness level relative to their age group, such as high, above average, average or low. Users in the 20th percentile of their group will get a notification alerting them that they have a low fitness level. 

This isn’t the company’s first VO2 Max feature, but it is the first where users do not have to participate in a high-intensity workout to get the measurement. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

VO2 Max is considered a strong predictor of overall health, but can be hard to measure outside of specialized clinics. By using the Watch’s motion sensor and heart rate sensor to estimate that value, Apple's smartwatch could give those who are at risk of health conditions associated with low VO2 Max a nudge to exercise more or talk to their doctor. 

THE LARGER TREND 

This news isn’t exactly a surprise. In September Apple announced that its Series 6 Apple Watch will include a blood oxygenation sensor and measure a lower range of the VO2 Max values. 

But the Apple Watch also isn't the first smartwatch to roll out a VO2 Max feature. Fitbit added SpO2 in 2018 and Withings added VO2 Max that same year. 

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