One of Apple Watch’s valuable and lesser-known health features is cardio fitness. The measurement is based on your VO2 max that Apple Watch can estimate when recording three specific workouts. Follow us to learn how to use cardio fitness on Apple Watch and iPhone, including why it’s important, how to set it up, and how to measure/display cardio fitness levels.
Cardio fitness background
Whether you just got an Apple Watch or have had one for a while and haven’t used cardio fitness, it’s a valuable metric to understand and use. Here’s how Apple describes it:
“Cardio fitness is a measure of your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during exercise. Your cardio fitness level is a strong indicator of your overall physical health and a predictor of your long-term health.
The reason it’s such an accurate indicator of overall health is that cardio fitness is based on measuring “the body’s ability to take in, circulate, and utilize oxygen.” Although there is a correlation between low levels of cardio fitness and future health problems, you have the power to increase your levels with consistent, more intense aerobic exercise.
Two other valuable ways to track heart health are Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Withings’ “Vascular Age” feature on its latest Body Cardio smart scale.
How to use Apple Watch and iPhone Cardio Fitness
Setup (Apple Watch Series 3 or later required)
- If you haven’t configured it yet, open the Health app on your iPhone
- Press Summary and swipe down near the bottom and search Cardiovascular fitness (under “Get More From Health” – you can also look under Browse > Heart > Cardio Fitness)
- choose blue To install button
- Follow prompts like confirmation of your health details (you must be at least 20 years old)
- You can choose to enable Cardio low fitness notifications
- You will now see the cardio fitness displayed below the Heart section in the Health app
How to Measure Cardio Fitness with Apple Watch
- You won’t see cardio fitness data for every workout recorded with Apple Watch, here’s what Apple says:
- Apple Watch can record estimated VO2 between 14 and 60 mL/kg/min when you take a brisk hike, walk or run outdoors with persistent heart rate measurement. It can estimate your VO2 max if you start any of these workouts in the Workouts app
- VO2 max is validated for users 20 years and older. Most people can improve their VO2 max with more intense and frequent cardiovascular exercises. Certain conditions or medications that limit your heart rate can cause your VO to be overestimated2 max. You can indicate that you are taking certain medications in Health Details.
- It may take at least 24 hours of wearing your Apple Watch, followed by several workouts and passive measurements with your Apple Watch before you receive an initial estimate
- You can read more details about the feature in the cardio fitness section of the Health app.
Cardio fitness levels will even show for outdoor walking/hiking/running workouts you’ve already done. You can tap the calendar icons at the top of the cardio fitness to see daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly data (see more below).
Apple notes that cycling is another great aerobic exercise for improving cardio fitness, but currently cycling workouts on Apple Watch will not record cardio fitness metrics.
How to View Cardio Fitness Levels on iPhone
- Check your cardio fitness level at any time by visiting the Health app on iPhone
- Press Browse > Heart > Cardio Fitness
- Tap the blue “Show All Cardio Fitness Levels” to see all of your available data
- You can now see the months you were in the low, below average, above average and high categories
- If you have another device that measures VO2 max (or had it professionally measured), you can tap “Add data” in the upper right corner to manually add measurements
- You can read more about the importance of cardio fitness and how to increase it in the Health app – but the simplest and most important factors are increasing your aerobic exercise intensity and frequency??? ?
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Here’s how and why you should set up cardio fitness on Apple Watch and iPhone
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