Apple’s watchOS 7.2 is out and offers new health and fitness stats

Two smartwatches are intertwined in this promotional image.
Enlarge / Apple Watch Series 6, launched in September, offers health and fitness monitoring in a dizzying array of styles. (It can also tell you the time, if that’s what you’re looking for.)

A new version of watchOS, the operating system used by the Apple Watch, is available today. WatchOS 7.2 includes support for Fitness +, Apple’s new subscription-based fitness service, as well as new cardio fitness notifications.

“Fitness + support included” could actually put the cart before the horse – Apple Fitness + requires an Apple Watch to function. The service bundles trainer-led workout videos and regimens with Apple Music, for $ 9.99 a month, and you can’t sign up for it without an Apple Watch. The watch will sync with the device on which you are viewing the class, with the stats and progress measured by the watch displayed on top of the video.

WatchOS 7.2 also includes new cardio fitness notifications:

With iOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2, Apple Watch users can view their cardio fitness level in the Health app on iPhone and get notified on Apple Watch if it is in the low range. Thanks to breakthrough technology released in watchOS 7, Apple Watch can easily measure low cardio fitness, and today, cardio fitness alerts allow 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 can be increased through physical activity. Apple Watch already estimates the average and higher VO2 max level during vigorous outdoor walks, runs or treks, which many runners and other athletes monitor to improve their performance.

Estimating lower VO2 max levels is new in watchOS 7.2 and uses an optical heart sensor, GPS, and accelerometer. Although only an estimate, Apple says this feature is significant because direct measurement requires clinical testing with specialized equipment, which is not readily available to most people. Apple then points to a report from the American Heart Association that says lower cardio fitness – as the new watchOS feature estimates from multiple sensor readings – is “ associated with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, death by all. causes and death rates that can be attributed to various cancers. “

Cardio fitness can be tracked over time on an iPhone paired with Apple Watch.
Enlarge / Cardio fitness can be tracked over time on an iPhone paired with Apple Watch.


Apple Watch users can visit the Cardio Fitness category in the Health app on the iPhone to check 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 gender as the user, and they can be viewed on a week, month, or year timeline to track changes.

WatchOS 7.2 also enables new optional notification classifications – when enabled, users can receive push notifications for detections of low cardio fitness classifications, as well as irregular heart rhythms that could indicate atrial fibrillation. Strangely, irregular heart rhythm detection and notification is not available in all locations. If this is an important feature for you, there is a list of supported regions you can check.