The Apple Watch has evolved into a smartwatch that isn’t simply another screen to check for alerts or push the skip button on your workout playlist without having to reach for your phone.
It’s also become known as a location to go if you’re interested in keeping a closer watch on your health and keeping track of your fitness.
If you choose the Apple Watch Series 6 or 7, you’ll get the best wrist smarts Apple has to offer. That includes its new blood oxygen sensor, which is the first time Apple has offered the ability to take blood-oxygen measurements from one of its watches. It’s not a new innovation for wearables, but it is the first time Apple has offered the ability to take blood-oxygen measurements from one of its watches.
So, what’s the big deal about blood oxygen levels being measured? What’s the best way to do it on the Apple Watch, and why would you want to? Here’s all you need to know about the Apple Watch’s Blood Oxygen app and why you should start using it. Also, you can see – how to reset an iPad
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How does the Apple Watch Blood Oxygen app works and How to use it?
What is blood oxygen?
Before we get into how and why Apple allows you to test it, let’s define what blood oxygen is. It refers to the quantity of oxygen available in your red blood cells, which transport that oxygen throughout your body.
The body’s fuel is oxygen, and it’s necessary for every job it performs to keep us alive. If the body is unable to take in the necessary quantity of oxygen, it may be unable to carry out those activities adequately, resulting in low blood oxygen levels and the problems that might arise as a result of those lower levels.
How can blood oxygen data be used on the Apple Watch?
During the day and while sleeping, Apple will allow you to collect on-the-spot readings and monitor blood oxygen levels. The data and measurements collected by Apple’s blood oxygen sensor are exclusively intended for general health and wellness, according to the company. Those looking to utilize it in the same way they would a specialized pulse oximeter gadget to provide more significant health insights that might refer to difficulties related to low blood oxygen levels will be disappointed with the Apple Watch. It isn’t, at least not yet.
So, what does “general health and wellness aims” mean to Apple? Apple doesn’t provide too much explanation about it, so it’s very much up to interpretation. In the altitude situation we outlined, it might be used to keep track of your body’s levels when the oxygen concentration in the environment is lower to monitor how it reacts to the conditions. Garmin performs this with its oximeter sensor, which is included in many of its watches.
It might also provide insight into training recovery, especially given the increased demand for oxygen during exercise. Slightly lower blood oxygen levels might indicate that you’re still healing after a tough workout or training block and that you should take a day off before going hard again.
To be clear, Apple will not prompt you if you’re going on a walk at a high altitude or if you’re working out harder than usual. If the user finds the data valuable and insightful, it is up to them to use it in this way.
It’s not a piece of information you’ll want to check throughout a workout. It’s not going to be of much use and attempting to measure while moving is a difficult task, which we’ll discuss further later.
What causes low blood oxygen levels?
The body’s blood oxygen levels might drop for a variety of reasons. Conditions such as asthma, infections such as pneumonia and respiratory viruses, and illnesses such as Covid-19 may impede the body’s capacity to transport oxygen to where it is needed, causing levels to drop.
Another circumstance where blood oxygen levels might decline is when you’re in a high-altitude setting when the oxygen in the atmosphere is lower than typical. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, confusion, and shortness of breath may occur.
Blood oxygen levels that are excessively high are uncommon, and they are generally connected with someone who requires assisted oxygen support.
Which Apple Watch is able to measure blood oxygen levels?
At the moment, the Apple Watch 6 and 7 are the only watches that can detect blood-oxygen levels. You may expect the sensor technology to be included in the Apple Watch 8 and the next-generation Apple Watch SE when they are released.
The Blood Oxygen app is available in select countries and areas. Apple also specifies that the function is just for people who are 18 or older.
What would be a normal blood oxygen level?
Your readings will be reported as a percentage, just as other smartwatches and fitness trackers that detect blood oxygen levels. A blood oxygen level of 95-100 percent is considered normal, according to Apple and other major health organizations such as the WHO. It might be an indicator of a problem if it’s lower than that. Keep in mind, though, that Apple’s app, sensors, and readings aren’t meant to be used for medical purposes.
How can the Apple Watch measure blood oxygen levels?
The optical heart rate sensor on the back of the Apple Watch Series 6 and 7 has the technology that makes it all possible. The technique is entirely about lights, much like the heart rate sensor.
When it’s time to take a reading, the sensor illuminates the blood vessels in the wrist using red and green LEDs as well as infrared light. That light does not pass through the body, unlike pulse oximeters. Photodiodes, which convert light into electrical current, instead monitor how much light has reflected off the Watch’s back.
Apple’s algorithms next analyze the data to determine the hue of the blood that has been detected. Bright red blood, often known as arterial blood, carries more oxygen than dark red venous blood.
So it can collect readings from the more oxygen-rich blood that’s taken from the heart and circulated throughout the body to give you a percentage of your blood oxygen level.
How to Measure Blood Oxygen on the Apple Watch?
The first step is to make sure your Apple Watch is running the most recent version of WatchOS and that you’re using iOS 14 on an iPhone 6S or newer.
Then, on your iPhone, go to the Watch app and then to the My Watch area. To access the Blood Oxygen app, scroll down and hit it. You may turn on the ability to take blood oxygen readings from here.
You may also activate blood-oxygen readings on the Watch during sleep monitoring and in Cinema modes. Alternatively, if you’re afraid that the red light used to track it may become a nuisance, you can turn it off.
Select the Blood Oxygen app on your Apple Watch once again. If this is your first time taking a measurement, you’ll be given some pointers to get a good result.
Things include ensuring sure your Watch is fit but not too tight on your wrist. Keeping your watch face up and resting your wrist on a table might also help you get better readings.
When you’re ready, press the digital crown to get a reading, which will take 15 seconds. You’ll get a % measurement once you’ve finished, and you’ll be able to check your statistics in the Apple Health app.
In Apple Health, where can I find blood oxygen measurements?
If you want to view a list of all the readings you’ve taken, as well as a reminder on what the data means, open the Apple Health app on your iPhone and click to Browse, then Vitals. You’ll be able to see your data here if you’ve taken a blood oxygen measurement or been monitoring it while sleeping.
You’ll be able to see statistics on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. Select Show More Blood Oxygen Data to see blood oxygen level ranges as well as daily averages for the same periods.
How accurate is measuring blood oxygen levels from the wrist?
It’s fantastic that Apple can provide this information, but is it reliable? It uses a similar way to gather blood oxygen levels, just how it uses light-based technology to monitor heart rate from the wrist. That raises some comparable concerns in terms of obtaining correct data if any data is available at all.
According to Apple, having tattoos or experiencing low skin perfusion, which may be caused by being in cold locations, might affect acquiring accurate readings. If your heart rate is too high, you may have trouble getting readings.
Similar to other smartwatches and fitness trackers that detect blood oxygen, movement and moving your wrist around might impact results. It’s probably one of the reasons why Apple and Fitbit prefer to collect measures when sleeping when the motion problem is less of an issue.
There are additional medical reasons why utilizing a pulse oximeter that rests on your fingertip to obtain non-invasive measures is the preferred method. It’s thought that reducing those possible wrist troubles from that portion of the body can help.
Dedicated pulse oximeters employ a different light-based methodology to measure blood oxygen than Apple and others like Garmin, Fitbit, and Huawei, transmitting two wavelengths of light into body tissue instead of the light reflection method used by Apple and others like Garmin, Fitbit, and Huawei. Blood also lies closer to the finger’s surface skin, making it a better location for taking measurements.
Apple does not specify how accurate its blood oxygen sensor is, and it is unlikely to do so until it begins to make it acceptable for medical-grade measurements, similar to its ECG heart rate sensor.
Is it possible to use the blood oxygen sensor in other Apple Watch apps?
The only method to use the blood oxygen sensor right now is to use Apple’s Blood Oxygen app. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of reform in the future.
It wouldn’t surprise us if something similar happened with Apple’s blood oxygen sensor, just as there are currently a slew of applications that leverage the company’s heart rate monitor technology.
It will necessitate Apple granting developers access, so only time will tell when or if plans to do so will be implemented in the future watchOS software upgrade.