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How to measure your blood oxygen levels with your Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 6 blood oxygen app
Khamosh Pathak

Starting with the Apple Watch Series 6, you can measure your blood oxygen content directly on your wrist. We take you through!

How blood oxygen monitoring works on Apple Watch

Apple states that the blood oxygen monitoring feature is not intended for medical use. Rather, it was developed for “general fitness and wellness purposes”. In contrast to the EKG function, the blood oxygen monitor has not undergone rigorous FDA testing and certification.

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7;s a reason Apple is anticipating this warning. The Blood Oxygen app on the Apple Watch is not entirely reliable. Compared to a simple finger-based blood oxygen monitor, it does not give the most accurate results.

The inaccuracy is because the Apple Watch measures your blood oxygen levels through your wrist. The wearable has four LEDs and photo diodes on the back of the watch. It fires green, red, and infrared LEDs on the blood vessels in your wrist. The photodiodes then measure the amount of light reflected back.

Blood oxygen sensor on the Apple Watch Series 6

Apple has developed a special algorithm engine that collects all of this data in order to find out how much oxygen is in your blood based on color.

The Apple Watch can measure between 70 and 100% blood oxygen. In general, 95-100% is considered the normal range. If you’re getting consistently low readings (below 90%), it could be a sign of an underlying condition. Only a licensed doctor can tell you for sure if something is wrong.

How to turn on blood oxygen monitoring on Apple Watch

The Blood Oxygen app works on Apple Watch Series 6 and newer versions with watchOS 7 or higher. You must be using an iPhone 6s or higher with iOS 14 or higher to activate the feature. This feature will not work on Apple Watches using the Family Setup program or anyone under the age of 18.

The function must be activated manually during the setup process of the Apple Watch. If you didn’t get the prompt, you can turn it on from the Watch app.

Open the Watch app on your iPhone. From the My Watch tab, select Blood Oxygen.

In the Watch app, tap Blood Oxygen

Here you can activate the option “Blood oxygen measurements”.

Tap Blood Oxygen Measurements

This feature automatically enables background measurements in sleep mode. You can also enable it “In Theater (or Cinema) mode” in the “Allow background measurements” section.

Tap here to activate blood oxygen in theater mode

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How to measure your blood oxygen levels

Once you’ve enabled the feature, it’s easy to get a blood oxygen reading from the Apple Watch.

Press the digital crown on the right side of your Apple Watch to open the app galaxy screen. Select the blood oxygen app here.

Open the Blood Oxygen app on the Apple Watch

Tap on “Start” to start the measurement. The process takes 15 seconds. During this time, place your wrist on a table or other flat surface.

After 15 seconds you will see your blood oxygen levels. Tap “Done” to save the reading. The readings are also automatically saved in the Health app on your iPhone.

Measure the blood oxygen levels on the Apple Watch

How to get accurate blood oxygen levels on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch’s blood oxygen levels can be flaky and inconsistent. However, the following tips can help you get more accurate and consistent readings:

  • Your Apple Watch should fit snugly. not too loose or too tight.
  • Make sure that your Apple Watch is flat against your wrist, but not against your bone.
  • Keep your wrist flat and open when measuring your blood oxygen levels.
  • Place your wrist on a table or flat surface for the entire 15 seconds.
  • Keep your fingers open without moving or tapping.
  • Remain as calm as possible during these 15 seconds. Do not use this feature while moving in a car.
  • Do not tap or interact with Apple Watch while taking a measurement.

Problems with measuring blood oxygen

This should fix the reliability issues. Apple also says that other things could affect blood oxygen monitoring. For example, it won’t work if you have dark tattoos on your wrist, areas of skin perfusion, when you are moving, in cold weather, or when your resting heart rate is higher than 150 beats per minute.

How to view blood oxygen data on iPhone

As soon as the blood oxygen monitoring function is activated, data is logged in the background. This background monitoring distinguishes the Apple Watch from a normal blood oxygen monitor.

Open the Health app on your iPhone to view all blood oxygen data. Tap “Summary” and select “View All Health Data”.

Tap View All Health Data

Tap “Blood Oxygen”.

Select blood oxygen from the health app

You will see a chart with all available data. You can switch between the day, week, month or year view at the top.

Blood oxygen history and graph

To see all of the data, swipe down, and then tap Show All Data.

Tap Show all data

Here is a reverse chronological list of the readings. Tap one to view more details. If you want to regularly monitor your blood oxygen through the Health app, you can add it to the Favorites section.

Tap Read for more details

New to the Apple Watch? Check out these Apple Watch tips and tricks.

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