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(Pocket-lint) - Apple has introduced a new fitness feature that allows Apple Watch users to track their cardio fitness levels through VO2 max measurements. 

Before the release of watchOS 7.2, the Apple Watch could estimate higher levels of VO2 max, but only outdoor walks, runs, or hikes. Now, Apple Watch can determine a user's cardio fitness as they walk throughout the day, so they don't need to intensely exercise for it take and analyse their cardio fitness level.

VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during intense exercise. It's basically a measurement used to determine the endurance of a person prior to or during the course of training, and it can be improved through physical activity.

Apple said it will notify Apple Watch users' when their cardio fitness levels are either high, above average, below average, or low (in comparison to other people in their same age/sex group). But first, its new "Cardio Fitness Level" feature needs to be set up in the Apple Health app on iPhone. Here's how:

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the Browse tab at the bottom.
  3. Search for Cardio Fitness.
  4. Scroll down to Cardio Fitness Levels.
  5. Tap on Set Up.
  6. Confirm health data that might affect heart rate.
  7. Tap through to learn about Cardio Fitness.
  8. Tap Turn on Notifications to receive alerts when your cardio fitness level is low.
    • Or, tap Not Now.
  9. Tap Done.

And that's it!

The Apple Watch will now take cardio fitness measurements whether you're on an outdoor run or a walk, and all the results will be pulled together and viewable inside the Apple Health app. There are multiple factors that can lower cardio fitness levels, such as pregnancy and lung and heart conditions, but if your cardio fitness levels should dip low, and if notifications are enabled, the Apple Watch will send notifications with recommendations on how to improve it.

Want to know more?

Check out Apple's Cardio Fitness Levels announcement here.

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For more about watchOS 7.2 as well as the new iOS 14.3 update and the launch of Fitness Plus, check out our guides:

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 14 December 2020.