Apple Watch gets new Fitbit-killing cardio fitness features

Apple Watch update brings VO2 Max for all

Apple Watch Series 6
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has updated the Apple Watch so that users can view their cardio fitness level in the Health app on iPhone, and receive a notification on Apple Watch if it falls below a certain level.

The new update comes as part of iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2 and Apple claims it will  "empower users to be more active for dramatic long-term health benefits". Which you have to say is a step up from the new features on Fitbits, which are Google Assistant and voice calling. 

The 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, but now, with watchOS 7, the 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 specialised equipment that is not readily accessible to most people. 

watchOS 7 also allows Apple Watch to take cardio fitness measurements throughout the day, making it easier to measure VO2 max for users with low cardio fitness, who don't complete high-intensity workouts.

Apple Watch Series 6

(Image credit: Apple)

If you've already updated to iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2 then you can now visit the Cardio Fitness category in the Health app on your iPhone to review whether your cardio fitness level is classified as high, above average, below average, or low.

You'll be rated relative to people in their same age group and same sex, according to data from the Fitness Registry and Importance of Exercise National Database.

You can also track how your cardio fitness level has changed over the past week, month, or year. 

If your level falls within the low range, you can receive a notification on the Apple Watch, along with guidance on improving it over time and having a conversation with their doctor.

Spencer Hart
Style and Travel Editor

As the Style and Travel Editor at T3, Spencer covers everything from clothes to cars and watches to hotels. Everything that's cool, stylish, and interesting, basically. He's been a part of T3 for over seven years, and in that time covered every industry event known to man, from CES and MWC to the Geneva Motorshow and Baselworld. When he's driving up and down the country in search of the greatest driving roads, he can be found messing around on an electric scooter, playing with luxury watches, or testing the latest fragrances.