The new version of watchOS, the operating system used by the Apple Watch, is out today. WatchOS 7.2 contains support for Fitness+, Apple’s new subscription-based fitness service, and new cardio fitness notifications.
“Including support for Fitness+” might actually be putting the cart before the horse, Apple Fitness+ needs an Apple Watch to work. The service bundles trainer-led workout videos and regimens with Apple Music, for $9.99 per month, and one can’t sign up for it without an Apple Watch. The watch syncs with whatever device you’re watching the class on, overlaying metrics and progress recorded by the watch on top of the video.
With iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2, Apple Watch users can see their cardio fitness level in the Health app on iPhone, and receive a notification on Apple Watch if it falls within the low range. Breakthrough technology released in watchOS 7 allows Apple Watch to easily assess low cardio fitness, and today cardio fitness notifications give users to be more active for dramatic long-term health benefits.
Cardiorespiratory fitness, as measured by VO2 max, is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during exercise, and it can be increased through physical activity. Apple Watch already measures average and higher levels of VO2 max during exhausting outdoor walks, runs, or hikes, which many runners and other athletes record to improve performance.
Estimation of lower levels of VO2 max is new to watchOS 7.2, and it uses an optical heart sensor, GPS, and accelerometer. Although only an estimate, Apple says this feature is important because direct measurement requires clinical testing with specialized equipment, which isn’t easily available for most people. Apple referred an American Heart Association report which says that lower cardio fitness, as the new watchOS feature estimates through multiple sensor readings is “associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, all-cause mortality, and mortality rates responsible for various cancers.”
Apple Watch users can access the Cardio Fitness category in the Health app on iPhone to evaluate their cardio fitness level, which the system classifies as high, above average, below average, or low. The ratings are relative to other people in the same age group and of the same sex as the user, and they can be seen on a week-, month-, or year-long timeline to record changes.
WatchOS 7.2 also enables new optional notification classifications, if enabled users can get push notifications for low cardio-fitness rating detections, as well as for irregular heart rhythms that may be suggestive of atrial fibrillation. Irregular-heart-rhythm detection and notification.