Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit cardio fitness score: everything you need to know

Did you know there’s an all-encompassing metric that captures your overall fitness? Here’s everything you need to know about Fitbit cardio fitness score.

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What is my cardio fitness score?
How do I measure my cardio fitness score?
Is this different than VO2Max?
How do I improve my cardio fitness score?


What is my cardio fitness score?

Cardiovascular fitness is an important metric of your health. Boosting endurance capacity has many benefits. You’ll be able to perform at a higher level, you’ll feel better and less stressed, and you might even be able to turn back the clock!

A recent study published by the Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University of Innsbruck, Austria illustrates the importance of keeping fit as you age. This is particularly the case during midlife.

“As yet, it is not possible to extend the genetically fixed lifespan with regular exercise training, but the chance to reach the later end of natural lifespan increases with higher physical fitness in midlife, where targeted preventative efforts may be launched,” it reads.

So while a physically fit person might not live longer, they will most likely have many more healthy years in their life. Hence the importance of regular exercise and keeping to a healthy weight. This is where Fitbit’s cardio fitness score comes in.


How do I measure my cardio fitness score?

Fitbit determines your cardio fitness score by looking at your resting heart rate, age, gender, weight, and other personal information. It is also a good idea to enter your weight in the app, and keep it updated. The level you are at depends very much on these factors.

For example, as you age your score is expected to decline. But Fitbit will assess your levels against those in the same age/gender group. After all, there’s would be no point in comparing the fitness of a 70 year old man to a 20 year old.

Fitbit cardio fitness score: everything you need to know

As shown below, metric is a broad range for those that do not use GPS for runs. This way of calculation doesn’t involve exercise at all.

Fitbit cardio fitness score: everything you need to know

Doing a run for at least 10 minutes at a comfortable pace with GPS switched on is a much preciser way to arrive at your cardio fitness score. This is because the metric is based on the relationship between your heart rate and pace.

Those that are more fit will run at a lower heart rate at the same pace as compared to those less fit. Go out a few times and combine slow and fast runs. You’ll then be able to have much more confidence in the accuracy of results.

Fitbit says you should use multi-sport mode when measuring and to make sure that you run on a flat surface. After all, results will be skewed in your favour if you are running downhill and will work against you going uphill.

The score can be found in the accompanying smartphone app. Simply tap the heart-rate tile in the dashboard and swipe left on the top graph. This will provide you either with a precise value or range.

It will also show your Cardio Fitness Level. This classifies you into one of a six groups: Poor, Fair, Average, Good, Very Good or Excellent. Everything is colour coded for ease of understanding. The green colour is where you should be aiming to be.

Clicking on the double-arrow in the right-hand corner will show a larger graph. This will also include information on how to improve your score.

Fitbit cardio fitness score: everything you need to know

Finally, worth mentioning is the devices that you can use to measure your cardio fitness score. They include anything with a heart rate.

So even the older wearable such as the Alta HR, Charge 2, Blaze or Ionic will suffice. Those with built-in GPS are best as they don’t need a smartphone to capture the satellite signal. The devices in this group include the Charge 4, Versa 3 and Sense.


Is cardio fitness score different than VO2Max?

The short answer is – not really. Both are based on the same principal. Fitbit estimates VO2 Max and refers to it as your cardio fitness score.

Most sports watches use the name VO2Max, as this is a more scientific. The letters are derived from V – volume, O2 – oxygen, max – maximum. The metric expressed either as an absolute rate in litres of oxygen per minute (L/min) or as a relative rate in (for example) millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute (e.g., mL/(kg·min)). You can find more about Vo2Max in this article.


How do I improve my cardio fitness score?

There are many ways to improve your cardio fitness score. But the bottom line is you should exercise regularly and make sure you are at a healthy weight. Interval training in particular is a great way to boost your fitness.

You should also make sure to take things gradually. Someone with a low cardio fitness score should start with brisk walks three to four times per week. As you improve your fitness, you should start to do moderate and vigorous-intensity exercises.

Increased exercise may help you bump your score by up to 20% over a period of two to three months, Fitbit says. Intensity matters more than workout duration and frequency when trying to improve your score.

The other important side of the equation is your weight. If you have too much of it, healthy weight loss (and lowering your body fat percentage) will greatly help you to improve your fitness level.

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