Apple Watch Health and Fitness Features
The Apple Watch serves as an extension of your iPhone on your wrist, allowing you to take calls, control your music, and read emails. But more than that, it's a robust health and fitness device that supports your workouts, fitness goals, heart health and sleep.
Apple Watch Series 4, which debuted in 2018, are one of the most advanced activity trackers on the market, with features that go beyond its competitors. The next big software update, WatchOS 6, is bringing even more features and will be available later this year.
This guide walks you through all of the health, fitness, and wellness features the Apple Watch has, and we'll be updating it as more features are added.
One more thing – the Apple Health app on your iPhone is an important companion to the Apple Watch, so if you're not already familiar with all of its features, you should be. Check out our guide to Apple Health to brush up.
New for WatchOS 6: Menstruation tracking
Apple has finally created a way for you to log your menstruation cycle, called Cycle Tracking. Coming soon with WatchOS 6 (and iOS 13), you'll be able to log your symptoms, see when you can expect your next period to begin and keep tabs on when you ovulate if you're trying to conceive.
We've long had apps that already do this, but now it will be native to the Apple Watch. You'll also be able to track your cycle within your iPhone's Health app.
New for WatchOS 6: Protect your hearing with the Noise app
Hearing loss is a scary thing, and we're more at risk than we think. Construction zones, concerts and listening to podcasts during our commutes can all contribute to hearing loss, but we aren't always aware that the noise around us is loud enough to cause problems.
The new Noise app for the Apple Watch (coming soon with WatchOS 6) uses the watch's microphone to monitor the ambient noise around you. If you're in an area where the noise level reaches a point where it could damage your hearing, the watch will let you know so you can move away from the source or use ear protection.
One of the core fitness features of the Apple Watch is the activity tracking. Rather than counting steps (which the Apple Watch still does!), it shows your movement in rings. You can view this tracking info on your watch and in the Activity app on your iPhone.
Move ring: The red outer ring tracks your active calories burned each day. It gives you a general sense of how much you move around, whether that's walking around your house or going for a 10-mile bike ride. Unlike the other rings below, you can change your target active calories to better reflect your goals or lifestyle.
Exercise ring: This green ring tracks any exercise you do each day. In this case, exercise is defined as any movement that is at or above a brisk walk in intensity. The goal is 30 minutes of this kind of activity each day, and you can't reduce or increase that number.
Stand ring: The Apple Watch doesn't want you to be sedentary, so it will remind you to stand up and move around for at least 12 hours each day. After moving around for a minute or more, the watch will record that you stood up. Those hours don't have to be consecutive, so if you sit at your desk and skip standing up, you can make up for it later.
If you want to track your activity through the number of steps you take, you can easily count your steps with the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch also offers daily coaching to help motivate you to close your rings. You'll get notifications during the day that encourage you to get up and move around, or ones that help you put in the final push to close your exercise ring.
When you do close a ring, you'll get a notification and a fun animation that celebrates your achievement. The same happens when you close all of your rings.
If you're not into coaching or the goal completion notifications, you can turn off both in the Activity app on your iPhone.
Long-term activity trends
Starting with WatchOS 6, the Activity app will transform all of your daily activity metrics into long-term trends. It evaluates your activity levels in the last 90 days, then compares that to the previous 365 in order to see how your fitness is improving or changing.
If you've been moving and exercising less than before, the Activity app will provide coaching to help you turn things around.
Whether you run, walk, swim, row, hike or do yoga, the Apple Watch can track your exercise sessions and show stats in real-time. For most workouts that means showing you the time elapsed, distance traveled, pace, heart rate, and calories burned.
If you're running, there are a few additional metrics the Apple Watch can show you. Pace Alert lets you set the desired pace and the watch will tap your wrist (using haptic feedback) if you're too fast or too slow. Want to know how your speed from the last mile compares to the one you're currently running? Check out Rolling Mile, which shows you exactly that. Finally, Cadence shows you how many steps you're taking per minute.