Longitudinal cardio-respiratory fitness prediction through wearables in free-living environments

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Spathis, Dimitris 
Perez-Pozuelo, Ignacio 
Gonzales, Tomas I 
Wu, Yu 
Brage, Soren 

Cardiorespiratory fitness is an established predictor of metabolic disease and mortality. Fitness is directly measured as maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), or indirectly assessed using heart rate responses to standard exercise tests. However, such testing is costly and burdensome because it requires specialized equipment such as treadmills and oxygen masks, limiting its utility. Modern wearables capture dynamic real-world data which could improve fitness prediction. In this work, we design algorithms and models that convert raw wearable sensor data into cardiorespiratory fitness estimates. We validate these estimates' ability to capture fitness profiles in free-living conditions using the Fenland Study (N=11,059), along with its longitudinal cohort (N=2,675), and a third external cohort using the UK Biobank Validation Study (N=181) who underwent maximal VO2max testing, the gold standard measurement of fitness. Our results show that the combination of wearables and other biomarkers as inputs to neural networks yields a strong correlation to ground truth in a holdout sample (r = 0.82, 95CI 0.80-0.83), outperforming other approaches and models and detects fitness change over time (e.g., after 7 years). We also show how the model's latent space can be used for fitness-aware patient subtyping paving the way to scalable interventions and personalized trial recruitment. These results demonstrate the value of wearables for fitness estimation that today can be measured only with laboratory tests.

cs.LG, cs.LG
Journal Title
npj Digital Medicine
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Volume Title
Nature Research
EPSRC (1988509)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/3)
MRC (MC_UU_00006/1)