Measuring VO2 Max & Blood Oxygen with Apple Watch Series 6

To my training progress, I use my Apple Watch to document and analyze the data using the Health App. You can find it here too VO2 max value as well as the blood oxygen saturation. I have summarized for you what these mean, my application in training, and general recommendations.

What does VO2 Max mean?

The VO2 Max value describes the maximum amount of oxygen the Use your body in training can. It is measured in liters of oxygen per minute. For this purpose, the athlete traditionally carries out a maximum stress test, in which he is driven to his sporting maximum endurance load, for example on the bike or treadmill.

How is the Apple Watch measured?

The data is determined by the Apple Watch using sensors (including the optical heart sensor, GPS light sensor, and acceleration sensor). The special thing about this is that the wearer does not have to perform at their best to record their VO2 Max value. The Apple Watch can already determine the VO2 Max value during low activities (e.g. fast walks).

What is blood oxygen saturation?

Here it is stated how many percent of total hemoglobin (Iron-containing protein complex in red blood cells) is enriched with oxygen. This is an important measurement value, among other things, to assess respiratory function and thus also to draw conclusions about lung function.

Children & young people have mostly around the 100% at Elderly or sick, the value can also be at 90%. Professional climbers can also show <70%, which is quite critical for normal people. It is believed that oxygen utilization is better in these people.

With the current Apple Watch Series 6, blood oxygen saturation can now also be measured. This happens automatically regularly throughout the day and also throughout the night. Of course, the measurement can also be started directly via the clock at any time if desired. You can then view the results in the Health app on the iPhone.

Why are these values ​​important?

A good VO2 Max value does not necessarily mean super endurance, but it can be a good basis for endurance activities be seen. Generally, this value is for general physical health Important: Poor cardiovascular fitness puts you at risk for health problems later in life (e.g. heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity). Poor cardiovascular fitness can be considered just as harmful as smoking or diabetes.

An exact classification of the value is rather difficult, in general one can say that male top endurance athletes can even reach values ​​of 70-80 ml/min/kg (women: approx. 63-72 ml/min/kg). With 50-60 ml/min/kg (women approx. 45-54 ml/min/kg) you are in the good midfield, with 30-40 ml/min/kg (women: 27-36 ml/min/kg) it is to work on your VO2 max value.

When it comes to blood oxygen saturation, around 95-100% is considered a healthy range, anything below 90% is considered questionable and should be discussed with a doctor.
The blood oxygen becomes interesting for athletes, for example in the field of winter sports or hiking. Here an adjustment of the blood oxygen saturation is desirable.

How can I improve my stats?

The younger you are, the easier it is to increase your VO2 Max values. In addition, one must also consider that a genetic predisposition also plays a role.

However, no matter your age or genetic advantage, you can train and improve your maximal oxygen uptake. As a beginner, it may already be sufficient to slightly increase the duration or intensity of the training and everyday movement (add a little dangling to the usual walk). The more advanced your training condition, the more you have to do and maybe go up to 90% of your maximum heart rate during training (HIIT training or sprints are suitable for this).

The Apple Watch also has another feature here: You get practical tips to increase your VO2 Max value (this feature can be set manually).

This function is intended to motivate you to lead a health-conscious life and to engage in personal fitness in order to stay healthy in the long term. Also to prevent damage. For you, as an athlete, it can be a good tool to document your progress and set goals, especially when it comes to endurance. Especially the long-term developments are exciting to follow.

Regular exercise is also important to improve blood oxygen saturation. In addition, taking vitamins (usually B1) and minerals (magnesium) can increase oxygen uptake and performance. In the case of repeated low values, however, the doctor should be consulted and no self-diagnosis made.

Conclusion

With the measurements of VO2 Max and blood oxygen saturation, Apple has developed a great tool. Not just for athletes, their track performance and want to increase, but also for everyone who wants to do something for themselves and their health. This is a good way to do more for your body, especially for long-term health.

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