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The Ultimate Guide to VO2 max readings on the Apple Watch

How does apple watch measure vo2 max?

Apple Watch vo2 max accuracy  

The Apple Watch is a stylish, versatile, and powerful device that is now able to track numerous health metrics since its move across into the territory of fitness watch. One of the more advanced and most discussed features is the VO2 max measurement function, but how can an Apple Watch gather this data? In this post, FitstrapsUK (The number Smartwatch bands retailor anywhere online) will look to explore the science behind how an Apple Watch is able to calculate a user’s VO2 max and how you can take advantage of these readings to improve your fitness level. We'll attempt to unearth the secrets of the Apple watch technology and find out how it can use your heart rate to measure oxygen usage in order to track this advanced fitness metric. Finally, we will look into the accuracy of the VO2 max level monitoring on an Apple Watch and whether you should use it to stay well on top of your fitness goals. So, hold on tight and take a deep breath (hope you liked that one), clip on your new Fitstraps Watch Band and get ready to learn the science behind the technology of the VO2 max function on an Apple Watch.  

Firstly, what actually is VO2 max and how does it relate to cardio fitness levels? 

So what is VO2 max and how does it relate to cardiovascular or aerobic fitness levels? VO2 max is a measure of your cardiorespiratory fitness level, it refers to the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise, providing an insight into how hard your body is working when you exercise. Before we get into the technicalities of how our Apple watch can measure it, let’s find out exactly what VO2 max is. VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is the measure of the maximum amount of oxygen that your body is able to absorb and use during exercise. Usually, the way that it is measured is in milliliters per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). The higher the level of your VO2 max, the more oxygen your body is capable of using during exercise, which will usually correlate to improved cardio fitness performance levels due to higher energy levels, this being especially true if you're an endurance athlete. This is because your aerobic capacity and activity level are closely linked to your VO2 max, this will be less relevant for explosive athletes such as sprinters whose VO2 won’t be so important. Those who lead an active lifestyle typically have higher VO2 max levels than those who don’t because their bodies are better equipped to utilize oxygen during physical activity. Most experts in the fitness industry would vote to say that VO2 max level is important in determining your ability to perform and compete as well as possible in an endurance sport or activity, the higher the number, the better your aerobic performance usually is. 

how does Apple Watch measure vo2 max

Can your VO2 max be improved with cardio fitness? 

Firstly, why would anyone want to increase their VO2 max in the first place? Well, increased levels of oxygen utilization in your body will mean that you will be able to exercise for longer periods of time due to better endurance capabilities and cardio fitness levels. Athletes with a higher VO2 max will usually experience a decrease in fatigue during exercise due to better Cardio fitness levels, allowing them to push themselves to higher limits than before resulting in faster times, etc. Then to answer the question of whether is it possible to improve your VO2 max. Yes, higher-intensity exercise such as high-intensity interval training can lead to improved VO2 max levels and possibly an improved Cardio fitness level, as long as it is done correctly and within a safe environment. This can be achieved by gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts or training sessions over time while never neglecting sufficient recovery between your workouts. Something that is important to be aware of is that everyone has different starting points when it comes to their baseline VO2 max levels due to various factors such as age, gender, and genetics will all come into play before we even get started talking about cardio fitness training. With an understanding of what VO2 max is, its importance for athletes in relation to their aerobic energy system, and how it is measured, we can get one step closer to achieving our very best performance regardless of our chosen sport or type of exercise.  

How can an Apple Watch health app measure VO2 max? 

So we know what VO2 max is and we also know we can improve it with the correct cardio fitness training but how can an Apple Watch measure your VO2 max? This is done via a combination of advanced algorithms, sensors, and the data about your body that you provided it your device with when setting it up. The Apple Watch itself uses many different sensors in an attempt to estimate the amount of oxygen that your body consumes as you exercise at various intensities. When these sensors read that your heart rate has gone in the upward direction, this will tell it the amount of oxygen being consumed this will then determine your VO2 max score based on the combination of that information. In an attempt to accurately predict a user’s VO2 max score, the Apple Watch tracks many different factors such as heart rate variability (HRV), speed, and metabolic responses. It will then combine this data with the metrics about your body when setting up your device such as age, gender, and weight, and use all of these to kick out the estimated VO2 max score that you will see when you look down at your Apple Watch. By combining a variety of different metrics, your Apple Watch can provide its user with a VO2 max score. So, if you have been wondering how an Apple Watch can calculate VO2 max, you are now in the know! The combination of advanced sensors around your wrist and clever algorithms allow the device to measure your body’s oxygen consumption and calculate an accurate score for you to track. So the Apple Watch is able to track your VO2 in all ranges from maximal exertion to a relaxed outdoor walk at the weekend.   

how does apple watch calculate vo2 max

How to use your Apple watch to improve your vo2 max? 

Are you looking to take your fitness level up a notch? Well with the help of your trusty Apple Watch and the apple health app you can do exactly that. With its state-of-the-art built-in sensors, an Apple watch device can track your VO2 Max, which as we touched on above is an important measurement of how well your body is using oxygen. If you are looking to make the most of your Apple watch we’ll give you some quick and easy-to-implement tips on how to use your Apple Watch to improve your VO2 max levels. The first and most obvious tip is to first make sure you always wear your Apple watch during every exercise session, ensuring you are able to accurately track and record all of your data. To ensure you get the most accurate data always make sure that your Apple Watch Band is fitted correctly against your wrist bone, to ensure the sensors can track accurately. Doing so will ensure that all of your data is as accurate as it possibly can be when using your device. Once you’ve done this, you can use the Workout app on your watch to measure your VO2 max as we spoke about above. This will track details like your heart rate and exercise intensity, as well providing you with some really useful real-time feedback about how you’re doing and how your body is responding to your workouts from an oxygen capacity point of view. The workout app also allows you to set goals for yourself, such as running a certain distance or hitting a specific heart rate target, in order to check you are training at a sufficient intensity while taking part in that workout. Measuring the user's heart rate response against their workout intensity can be a really good indicator of not just training levels but also overall health levels. Always make sure to review all of this invaluable data that your Apple Watch collects. Using the Activity app on the Apple watch this will let you see trends in your workouts, which can help you identify areas where you can make some improvements. You can also compare your results with some of your friends and family who also use the Apple health app, which may help to motivate you and keep you on track with your goal of improving your VO2 max score. From changing up intervals during high-intensity interval training to just tracking your heart rate on an outdoor or a hiking workout, the Apple watch can be an extremely valuable tool when it comes to improving your VO2 max scores. 

Which of the Apple Watch series have the VO2 max function? 

If you take your fitness training very seriously and have been considering moving across to an Apple Watch from something traditionally more sport and exercise focused such as a Garmin or Coros device, you may be wondering if the device has a VO2 max function. The answer, you will be glad to know is, Yes- Ever since the Apple Watch Series 3 model was released back in 2017 here in the UK, all models of Apple Watch come fully equipped with the VO2 max feature allowing you to track your oxygen efficiency during different types of exercise sessions.  

The Apple watch series 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Ultra, and both versions of the SE all have the VO2 max function, the later models are more accurate because they feature better sensors that will read more accurately than previous models. They also allow you to access your data in a more detailed way than previous versions. From the Series 6 model onwards is when things get really interesting though from a fitness tracking point of view. Models from series 6 onwards can provide you with real-time data regarding your VO2 max levels as well as other really detailed and hand insights about your activity levels. So if you're in the market for a new fitness watch and the VO2 max is a deal breaker, any of the models from Series 3 onwards should be suitable for what you need. If you bought your Apple watch a while back and you can’t remember which model you own you can check this by simply looking at the back of the device or going into your settings within the watch itself. Always bear in mind that to regularly get the most accurate readings, you will need to ensure that your Apple Watch is updated regularly with the latest software updates. This means the Apple Watch is a fantastic choice for those who want a smartwatch that can provide an accurate reading of their oxygen levels while enjoying all of the style and functionality that an Apple Watch can provide, then this could well be the perfect fitness watch for you. 

how accurate is apple watch vo2 max

Is the VO2 Max on Apple Watch accurate? 

So we know what VO2 max is, how an Apple Watch can estimate it, and which models of Apple Watch can do this. Before you rush to clip on your Apple Sports band ready for your workout, we'll need to explore if the Apple Watch VO2 max function is actually an accurate measure of your oxygen consumption levels in relation to Cardio fitness and overall health. In order to do that we are going to compare how the Apple Watch measures a user’s VO2 max to the more traditional methods of testing this as well as discuss the positives and negatives of this function for Fitness watch lovers, with some top tips on using your Apple watch's extensive data to maximize its accuracy levels as much as possible. As we mentioned above the Apple Watch has become a more and more popular fitness watch in the last few years with many features that make it an attractive choice for fitness enthusiasts looking to get a read on their VO2 max measurements. Traditionally though, to accurately measure your VO2 max, you would need to visit a lab and undergo a series of tests that measure your oxygen consumption and cardio fitness while exercising at various intensities. You may have seen footage of pro footballers and other similar athletes on treadmills with masks hooked up to their mouths, this is likely one of the tests that is being undertaken here. Obviously, this type of testing is not attainable to everyone nor is it as convenient as having an estimate of your Cardio fitness attached to your wrist. But how accurate are the VO2 max features on the Apple Watch? Although the technology boasted by the Apple Watch’s VO2 max measurement may be extremely impressive and sophisticated, the accuracy of its readings is up for some debate and can vary depending on a number of different factors.  

First of all, these readings are reliant on users inputting all of their personal data such as age, weight, height, sex, etc- into the apple health app correctly and accurately in order to get the most precise readings from the watch. Any small errors or discrepancies in the health app could have a large impact on the accuracy of results obtained from your Apple Watch. As we mentioned briefly above how your Apple Watch band is worn can also affect the accuracy of the watch's readings, so always make sure your device is tightly secured to the wrist, up against your wrist bone. Not doing this properly can put a block on your quest for accurate VO2 max data and improved cardiovascular fitness before you even get started.  

So, let’s assume that all your data has been input correctly and you are wearing your watch strap the way that Fitstraps would recommend. What other factors can affect how accurately how Apple watch device can measure your VO2 max readings and cardio fitness levels? Well, strangely enough, environmental factors such as altitude can affect VO2 max scores, so if users are training in different locations they may need to adjust their settings accordingly.  

Furthermore, studies have shown that there is some degree of variation between results obtained from different Fitness watches when they are measuring VO2 max levels, even when they are tested on the same people the watches used have similar features. This means that comparing scores from one device with another may not always produce reliable results and could lead to inaccurate conclusions. As we know the Apple Watch is becoming a more popular choice for those looking to track their fitness levels, but they aren’t without their limitations when used to measure your VO2 max score. To begin with, the Apple Watch only actually measures heart rate and not oxygen uptake which is also really important when it comes to calculating your VO2 max levels and Cardio fitness. Due to this, the Apple Watch is only able to provide you with an estimate of your VO2 max rather than a completely pinpoint and accurate measurement. In addition to this, the watch only measures heart rate and does not take into account other factors that are understandably beyond the scope of a watch such as heat, humidity, and dehydration. Therefore these factors could have a large influence on the VO2 result displayed on your watch without having been taken into account. Further to this, as VO2 max is a measurement of oxygen uptake over time and your Apple Watch only provides instant data on your heart rate it therefore would not be able to completely accurately provide an estimate of your VO2 max and Cardio fitness levels. The final drawback of this function is that the Apple watch also doesn’t take into account other factors such as the user's respiratory rate or lung capacity which are also beyond the scope of a watch and play a part in the accuracy of any VO2 max reading.  

is apple watch vo2 max accurate

So, while Apple watch users can gain some extremely useful insights into their fitness levels it cannot provide a completely accurate measure of VO2 max however it can give them an extremely handy estimate. If you are a serious athlete and you need to accurately track and monitor your VO2 max we would recommend that you visit a professional fitness center and get the testing done by them. The Apple health app can provide some very insightful data on your fitness levels but for an accurate measure of your VO2 max, there are more reliable options available. However, we would say that these methods of testing are not easily available to the standard user and certainly not as attainable on a regular basis. We would just say to take these limitations of using an Apple watch to measure your VO2 into consideration when deciding if this is right for you. While the Apple Watch's VO2 max function is generally a very reliable estimate, it should not be relied upon as an absolute measure of your athletic physical performance.

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