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WatchOS 7: Apple Watch will soon be able to measure your fitness level as you get older



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Angela Lang / CNET

The Apple Watch may have the ability to predict how healthy or unhealthy you are, and keep you in check as you age. WatchOS 7The next version of Apple̵

7;s wearable software, due out this fall, will provide a new set of mobility metrics for the watch. (You can Check out the WatchOS 7 public beta Now, too, but we recommend not doing this on your main device.) You can take a snapshot of a person’s physical and cardiovascular fitness and, with the help of a doctor, identify more serious health conditions.

Mobility, or functioning as it is known in the medical world, is one of the best indicators of overall health and longevity. Mobility decreases with age, but it can also be influenced by other factors such as illness or injury.

“Maintaining or improving functioning is one of the most important things we do as doctors,” says Dr. Nauman Mushtaq, an interventional cardiologist with Northwestern Medical Group.

There are many ways to improve mobility metrics. Some are as simple as increasing your activity level, while others can involve more complex medical procedures.

The Apple Watch will use motion sensors such as the accelerometer and gyroscope, as well as advanced algorithms, to provide a range of data points associated with mobility. This includes the lower range VO2 max (which measures maximum oxygen consumption), how fast you can walk up and down stairs, and an estimate of how far you can walk in six minutes, which doctors call a six-minute walk test.

Other data points such as stride length and double assistance time (which measures a person’s gait) are recorded by the paired iPhone iOS 14. All of this information is then displayed in a new mobility section of the health app on the iPhone. And it’s not retroactive, so you only see data that was collected after the updates were installed. The value is that it is able to gather information over time, and not just during a visit to the doctor’s office.

In both the six-minute walk test and the VO2-Max test, patients traditionally have to be examined by doctors in a clinic, hospital or laboratory. With VO2 max, the patient wears a mask that analyzes the oxygen content on a treadmill or bicycle. The Apple Watch doesn’t require any additional effort to measure mobility.

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A traditional VO2 Max test done in a laboratory.

Jean-Yves Ruszniewski / Getty Images

“It’s unlikely to be using accelerometers and PPG sensors alone [that are in the Apple Watch] can capture all the nuances of medical testing and should not be considered a substitute, “says Dr. Geoff Tison, cardiologist and assistant professor of cardiology at the University of California at San Francisco.” But if it’s well validated and with the ability to passively monitor these metrics on large numbers of people without complex equipment, it could be valuable, “he added.

Those numbers on the health app may not mean much to the average user. However, if monitored over time with the help of a doctor, they can provide real-time feedback on how your body is responding to treatment, whether it’s a new exercise program. Medication or surgery. It can even warn users of serious underlying medical conditions. According to Mushtaq, sudden changes in mobility can be linked to anemia, lung disease, or asthma.

He believes insurance companies or Medicare could potentially use these types of metrics to assess whether certain procedures, such as B. Joint replacement, should or should not be covered based on the expected improvement in functionality.

But even after WatchOS 7 rolled out to users later this year, it may take a while for these metrics to become widely accepted by the medical community instead of existing tests. It took two years and a pandemic for the FDA to resolve the issue ECG function on the Apple Watch, for example, for remote monitoring of patients.

The public version of WatchOS 7 is expected to be released in the fall along with iOS 14 for the iPhone and is only available for the Apple Watch Series 3 or higher. The update also includes a new one Sleep tracking function, Hearing health notifications and better fitness tools. Read more about WatchOS 7 here.






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