This fall, the new Apple WatchOS 7 will arrive, having new metrics that can show your overall health by monitoring your fitness levels while you age.
WatchOS 7 is Apple's new version wearable software, which has new mobility metrics that provide a picture of its wearer's cardiovascular and physical fitness. Together with the assessment of your physician, it can detect serious health concerns.
Increasing Mobility to Improve Health
Functional capacity or mobility is among the best measurements of longevity and overall health. A person's mobility lessens as they grow older; we sometimes become even less mobile due to injuries or illnesses.
Improving or preserving our functional capacity is among the most vital things that we can do to improve our health, according to Northwestern Medical Group interventional cardiologist Dr. Nauman Mushtaq.
We can improve our mobility metrics through several means. Some of these ways involve an increase in our activity level, while other methods involve complicated medical procedures.
How Apple WatchOS 7 Can Help
The new Apple Watch utilizes motion sensors, such as a gyroscope and an accelerometer, together with the use of advanced algorithms, the device gives its user various data points associated with body mobility.
Some of these are the low range VO2 max to measure maximum consumption of oxygen, the speed with which you climb up and down the stairs, and the estimated distance you can walk within six minutes, which doctors call the 6-minute walk test.
The information can be seen on the Health app under the new Mobility section on your iPhone. It is not retroactive. Therefore, you will only see your data after you have installed the updates. The software can gather your data over time, not only during a single visit to your doctor.
Initially, the VO2 max and 6-minute walk tests require the patient to be physically assessed by a doctor. For VO2 max, a mask must be worn while using a bike or treadmill. But the new Apple Watch requires none of these.
What Doctors Say
According to cardiologist and University of California, San Francisco cardiology assistant professor Dr. Geoff Tison, the PPG sensors and accelerometers in the new Apple Watch may not be able to detect all the nuances that medical tests possess; thus, they should not be considered replacements. However, he adds, if the measurements have an acceptable low error and are well-validated, then they could still be valuable in monitoring people without needing sophisticated equipment.
Over time, and together with the advice of a doctor, the measurements can give feedback regarding the body's response to a new exercise program, a surgical procedure, or medication. The watch will also be able to warn users regarding serious medical issues. For example, Dr. Mushtaq says that sudden changes in one's mobility may be associated with asthma, anemia, or lung disease.
Medicare and insurance companies may also find these metrics useful in assessing coverage for specific procedures relative to expected improvements. The medical community, however, may not readily accept these data as substitutes for existing tests. As an example, it took a pandemic and two years before the FDA cleared the Apple Watch's ECG feature for remote monitoring.
Apple WatchOS 7's Release
WatchOS 7 is anticipated to be launched together with the iOS 14 iPhone update this coming fall. It will be available only to users of the Apple Watch Series 3 and higher. The update also includes a sleep tracker, plus notifications on hearing health and other improved fitness tools.