Withings x Firstbeat: What’s Behind Cardio Fitness Scores?

Heart health
March 6, 2019

For the first time in our history, Steel HR Sport can give you an accurate and precise physical fitness score—the result of a partnership between Withings and Firstbeat. What is it and how does it work? Read on to find out.

At the forefront of health algorithms

By way of introduction to the company we have partnered with, Firstbeat is a Finnish company that specializes in the analysis of physiological data during sport. This expertise focuses on the heart: the measurements obtained tell us more about effort, stress and recovery. Today, many professional and general-purpose trackers use Firstbeat’s state-of-the-art algorithms.
Firstbeat has produced many white papers and cardiac rhythm variability studies. One piece of the key data provided by these studies is VO2 max, which is calculated by the Firstbeat algorithm integrated into Steel HR Sport.

Measuring physical fitness

We talk a lot of VO2 max, and if you don’t know what it is, here’s a quick explanation… VO2 max is the maximum quantity of oxygen that the body can take in via the lungs, circulate via the heart and arteries, and utilize in the muscles over a given period of time. It is therefore one of the main factors in building up endurance. The Firstbeat algorithm makes it possible to determine the most significant data for assessing physical fitness.
“There is a close and proven relationship between what you do, the intensity of effort required to do it, and your fitness level,” explains Herman Bonner, Communication Specialist at Firstbeat. “If you are running in a controlled environment, like on a track for example, with strict instructions about how long to run and how hard you should run, determining your fitness level is relatively simple. The challenge is getting that useful and motivational fitness data from the types of daily runs people enjoy.”
“Firstbeat and the Steel HR Sport now make it possible to assess cardio fitness using data obtained from all sources, without any special testing protocols, which is no mean feat. Running outdoors, on a hard surface, on the road, in the mountains, with stops, repetitions, warm-up sessions, and at different intensity levels presents no problem. The algorithm takes everything into account and always succeeds in giving you reliable information about your physical fitness.”

Discover your Fitness Level score

Steel HR Sport can estimate your VO2 max, and the Health Mate app can then calculate your Fitness Level score. The higher your score, the fitter you are. If you’re just starting to exercise, your heart rate will be higher at the same pace, so you’ll probably start with a low score.
We recommend running for at least 10 minutes, preferably on flat terrain, to obtain as accurate an estimate as possible. Running downhill or uphill can require too much or too little effort compared to flat terrain, which can affect your results.
Most people will discover their Fitness Levels is between 22 and 60. Beyond 60, you are probably a serious endurance athlete. Fitness Levels typically decline with age, and men tend to have higher scores than women because of different body compositions. After a running session, open the Health Mate app to see your Fitness Level score on your timeline. There are 4 color-coded levels that help you interpret you score based on normal values for your age and gender.

  • Red – low
  • Orange – fair
  • Yellow – good
  • Green – excellent

To find out more about VO2 max and how to improve it, check out our VO2 max blog post.

Learn more about yourself

As with all acquired habits, engaging in physical activity demands time and perseverance. It can be frustrating if you don’t see immediate results—but change occurs over time. The Fitness Level score shows the progress you are making. Even if you are not very fit, you will see your score increase as you continue to train, showing that you are on the right track.
To ensure reliable data, you must wear the Steel HR Sport one centimeter from your wrist bone, and adjust the wristband correctly: not too loose, not too tight. When you try to move the watch on your wrist, the watch face should move with your skin, but doesn’t feel so tight that it blocks your circulation.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how Firstbeat and your Fitness Level score can help you improve your training regimen. Now let’s see how a little bit of self-knowledge helps up your exercise game!
For more information, feel free to visit firstbeat.com.