The Withings Body Cardio has been a smart scale leader for some time and the advanced device just got a valuable update with Vascular Age measurements earlier this month. We’ve been testing out the new feature that offers “a cardiovascular check up at every weigh-in” along with the Apple Health integration Body Cardio includes. Read along for all the details on Vascular Age and everything you’re getting with this updated smart scale.
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If you’re interested in the quantified self or even just casually looked at products like smart scales and blood pressure monitors, you’re probably aware of Withings as it’s been at the forefront of the smart health devices market over the last decade.
No matter if you’re a serious athlete or just want better and more complete information as you pursue your health goals, the Withings Body smart scales are super useful tools. And the Body Cardio goes beyond tracking just weight and BMI and includes body composition analysis (water, fat, bone, and muscle), heart rate tracking, Apple Health support, and more.
And now with a software update for both existing and new Body Cardio owners (Nokia Body Cardio owners too), Vascular Age is the latest advanced feature to land on the smart scale.
Hands-on with the new Withings Body Cardio update
What is Vascular Age?
Vascular Age on the Body Cardio scale is measured through Pulse Wave Velocity (PWV) which analyzes your arterial stiffness. PWV measures the “speed at which the blood pressure pulse propagates through the circulatory system.” Withings says the technology is used in clinical settings to give early warnings about increased risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, organ failure, heart attack, and stroke. And it worked with leaders in cardiology and was clinically tested to get the feature right:
Developed by leading cardiologists, Vascular Age provides a daily, easy-to-understand assessment of arterial health. It accomplishes this by showing people how their cardiovascular health compares to the norms expected within their age bracket, with an estimate of their inner heart age and an indication of whether it is optimum, normal, or not optimum for their chronological age.
This is a really important and impressive feature to me as Withings is making cardiovascular checkups easily available that people aren’t likely to get outside of clinics (or maybe rarely outside of you or your doctor suspecting a problem). It can be easy to focus on outward appearances like weight loss and muscle gain but having a better understanding of Vascular Age plays a crucial role in understanding a bigger picture look at our health.
I think it’s exciting because advances like Vascular Age mean it’s easier than ever to be proactive about our health and understand in real-time how our nutrition and exercise choices are impacting our bodies.
Setting up Vascular Age
For existing Body Cardio owners (or if it’s not already enabled for new owners), you’ll need to update both the Withings Health Mate iOS app as well as the software of the scale itself. That’s version 5.5.0 for iOS and once that’s installed, you can head to the Health Mate app > Devices > All Settings > Check for updates. You’ll need version 2101 running on your Body Cardio to enable Vascular Age.
One other thing that wasn’t automatic for me was selecting Vascular Age to show on the scale’s built-in screen when weighing in. To do that, head to the Health Mate app > Devices > Body Cardio > Customize screens and toggle Vascular Age on.
Getting a Vascular Age measurement
Once you’ve updated the Health Mate app and your Body Cardio scale, the device will start taking the Vascular Age measurements.
Before you get the initial result, you’ll need five Vascular Age measurements. I ended up testing out if weighing in twice in one day would count toward the five – and it did. However, for accuracy, Withings recommends weighing at the same time each day.
Other tips and tricks for the most accurate measurements include making sure to weigh in with bare feet (slightly moist can help), and being aware that rough calluses can interfere with PWV readings.
After you get at least one Vascular Age reading, the metric will show up in your main Home feed in the Health Mate app. You can tap to learn more about how to improve arterial health before your first reading shows up.
The top recommendations to lower your Vascular Age are:
- For those ages 16-64 get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week
- Reduce salt intake
- Eat foods rich in probiotics like onions, beans, lentils, garlic, leeks, and bananas
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants like berries, beets, spinach, kale, and more
- Eat less meat
You can find more detailed specifics and links to the supporting research in the Health Mate app.
When you do get the results of your Vascular Age after the first five measurements, here’s what you’ll see:
Withings gives a not optimal, normal, or optimal rating based on your age bracket/arterial stiffness. Just below the chart at the top, you’ll also see the average age range you’re in and your Vascular Age trend.
Importantly, Withings says getting a “Not optimal” measurement doesn’t “diagnose you with a health condition.” But it certainly may help you make better-informed choices or spur you to talk with your doctor.
Here are the details of each rating:
Your Vascular Age is lower than your chronological age. You are doing better than 90% of Withings users of the same age group. Maintain this trend by maintaining healthy habits.
Your Vascular Age is aligned with your chronological age. You are in the same range as 80% of Withings users of the same age group. You can try to improve your long-term trend by reinforcing healthy habits.
Your Vascular Age is higher than your chronological age. You are in the 10% of users of the same age group with the highest Vascular Age. Please keep in mind that this result is relative to Withings users who are generally in good health. This reading does not diagnose you with a health condition. Try to lower your Vascular Age in the long term by establishing healthier habits, or talk to your doctor about what you can do to improve.
Apple Health integration
Withings Body Cardio and the Health Mate app works with a lot of metrics found in Apple Health. But with Vascular Age/arterial stiffness being so new, Apple doesn’t have it as an option to view the measurements in the Health app yet, but I would imagine support could arrive in the future.
Withings Body Cardio wrap-up
Whether you have really specific health goals or want to more casually move toward a healthier life, I think the Withings Body Cardio offers a lot of value.
It’s got a great build quality with a metal and glass design, built-in rechargeable battery, support for up to 8 users, and rich features that make it easy to know where you’re at on your health journey and track your progress.
I think it’s great Withings is making Vascular Age available to both existing and new owners of the Body Cardio scale and along with the body composition and other capabilities makes this the best smart scale on the market.
Also, if you’re looking for something to help with body recomposition, I’ve found the iPhone-enabled metabolic analyzer Lumen a great tool to use alongside the Body Cardio smart scale to help with nutrition planning and more.