The Apple Watch offers a variety of features that can help you maintain and enhance your health and wellbeing, from heart rate monitoring to hearing protection to sleep tracking.
Apple has often promoted the health benefits of the Apple Watch with video testimonials from people who say the smartwatch saved or improved their lives. And each new Apple Watch has introduced new apps and options designed with health in mind.
All Apple Watch models include a heart rate monitor and the Health app to display your health profile and Medical ID. Depending on the model you own, you can also take an electrocardiogram of your heart rhythm, detect a fall and contact emergency services, measure your blood oxygen levels, and more.
With each new version of watchOS, Apple also adds new features, including apps for sleep tracking and handwashing with watchOS 7. If you upgrade to watchOS 8, you can record more types of workouts, access your COVID-19 vaccination card through the Apple Wallet app, and unwind with the Mindfulness app. Here are some ways to get healthy with an Apple Watch.
1. View Your Health Information
Through the Health app on your iPhone, you can enter health information about yourself and view it on your watch. To set this up, open the Health app on your phone and tap the profile picture in the upper-right corner.
Tap the Health Details link to add your gender, blood type, and other data. Tap the Medical ID link to enter information about your medical history, conditions, and medications. You can view this information on your watch under Settings > Health. Select Health Details and Medical ID to see the information you provided.
2. Track Your Workouts
To record workouts on your Apple Watch, open the Workout app and swipe down through the different types of workouts. At the bottom of the screen, tap Add Workout to find even more types, including Pilates, tai chi, yoga, dance, fitness gaming, martial arts, and kickboxing, then tap the one you want.
To set a certain goal or limit, tap the ellipsis icon to establish the desired number of calories burned, distance achieved, or time spent. Tap Open to start tracking, or just tap the workout itself. At the end, the screen shows your calories, distance, and other numbers. Swipe to the right and tap End to end the session.
To check out your activity and fitness results from your watch, open Settings > Health > Health Data > Activity and tap a category, such as Exercise Minutes, Flights Climbed, Stand Hours, and Workouts.
If you’re a subscriber to Apple Fitness+, you can access certain Fitness+ programs on an Apple Watch to guide your workouts and meditations. Open the Workout app on your watch and tap the Fitness+ program at the top. Tap the program to start it or select the topic under Browse More to find past programs.
Similarly, open the Mindfulness app on your watch and tap the Fitness+ program at the top. Swipe through the different programs and tap the one you want to play.
3. Access Your COVID-19 Vaccination Card
There are a few different ways to add your COVID-19 vaccination card to your iPhone, including adding it to the Wallet app. Just as you can display the information on your phone screen, you can also display it on your Apple Watch.Open the Wallet app on your watch, swipe down the screen, and then tap your vaccination card. You’ll see the card itself as well as the barcode for scanning. Swipe down further to view the expiration date, retrieve pass information, and share vaccination details through email or text.
4. Monitor Your Heart Rate
With the built-in Heart Rate app, you can monitor your heart rate at any time. Open the app, and it will measure your current heart rate. As long as your watch's display is active, measurements are then taken and displayed periodically to record your rate.
Tap the arrow in the upper left and the app displays your current rate, your resting rate, your average rate, and specific rates based on your activities. There are also alternative apps, such as Cardiogram, Heart Analyzer, HeartWatch, and Talking Heart Rate, that offer more features than the built-in option.
5. Take an ECG
If you have an Apple Watch Series 4 or higher, you can take an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart rhythm. It can then alert you if it finds any irregularities, such as atrial fibrillation. If you are experiencing any chest pains or other symptoms, call emergency services, but if you do have a known condition, you can use the app to track your heart rhythm.
Open the Health app on your iPhone and tap Browse > Heart > Electrocardiogram then go through the setup process. To take an ECG with your Apple Watch, open the ECG app and make sure the watch is on the same wrist on which you set up the feature.
Hold your finger on the Digital Crown. The app will count down as it takes the ECG. After 30 seconds, the results display your sinus rhythm and heart rate. You can then add any symptoms you're experiencing, or contact your doctor or emergency services if you're concerned about something serious.
6. Protect Your Hearing
Consistent loud noises can damage your ears and even lead to hearing loss. The purpose of the Noise app is to monitor surrounding noise and warn you if sounds are above a safe level.
First, set up the decibel threshold on your iPhone or watch and enable the Environmental Sound Measurements option to begin monitoring noise levels. From there, you can set a decibel level at which you want to be warned if the sound around you gets too loud.
Your watch will then notify you if the sound reaches or exceeds the level you set. You can also manually open the Noise app on your watch to check the current decibel level around you.
7. Track Your Menstrual Cycles
The Cycle Tracking app allows women to track their menstrual cycle. To set this up on your iPhone, open the Health app and tap Browse > Cycle Tracking > Get Started. You’ll then need to enter the date of your last period, indicate how many days your period usually lasts, and choose the typical length of each cycle.
You can control features for Period Prediction, Period Notifications, Fertile Window Prediction, Log Fertility, and Log Sexual Activity, all of which can be helpful if you're trying to conceive or avoid getting pregnant.
To record and monitor your period, open the Cycle Tracking app on your watch. You can log your cycle and assign each stage a different color while also noting all the accompanying symptoms. You can even view the predicted length of each cycle.
8. Detect a Fall
The Apple Watch Series 4 or higher comes with a useful safety feature called Fall Detection. If you take a hard fall that renders you unconscious or unable to move, your watch can automatically call emergency services.
To set this up on your iPhone, open the Watch app and tap the My Watch tab. Swipe down and tap Emergency SOS, then enable Fall Detection. You can opt to keep it on all the time or only during workouts. If you fall, the watch will detect it and display an alert. If you fail to respond, the watch will tap your wrist, sound an alarm, and then notify emergency services.
9. Track Your Sleep
With watchOS 7, Apple finally unveiled its own sleep tracker. The app can help you prepare for sleep, tell you how much actual sleep you got during the night, and reveal your sleeping pattern over a period of time. To set this up, open the Health app on your iPhone. Swipe down the Summary screen and tap the Get Started button for Set Up Sleep. Follow the directions to set your various goals and schedules.
Wear your watch to bed, and you can then turn on sleep tracking directly from your iPhone or from the Sleep app on your watch. The next morning, check the sleep data on your iPhone to see how much sleep you got.
10. Wash Your Hands for 20 Seconds
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts recommend washing your hands for 20 seconds to stop germs from spreading. Apple added a handwashing timer in watchOS 7, which detects when your hands are under running water and gives you a timer.
Enable the handwashing reminder directly on your watch by going to Settings > Handwashing and turning on the switch for Handwashing Timer. If you make it all the way to 20 seconds, you’re rewarded with a “Nice One.”
11. Measure Your Blood Oxygen Level
A consistently low blood oxygen level could be a sign of respiratory or pulmonary issues. With an Apple Watch Series 6 or higher running watchOS 7 or later, you can measure your level using a built-in app and oximeter, which tells you if you’re getting enough oxygen to your brain.
To set up this sensor, open the Watch app on your iPhone, go to Settings and select Blood Oxygen. Make sure the switch for Blood Oxygen Measurements is turned on. You can also control when the sensor takes background readings by enabling or disabling In Sleep Mode and In Theater Mode.
To take a new reading, open the Blood Oxygen app on your watch and tap the Start button to begin the scan. The sensor kicks off with a 15-second countdown and then displays the percentage of your blood oxygen level, which normally should be between 95% and 100%.
For the best results, make sure your watch is not too low on your wrist and that the band is snug but comfortable. You should also keep your hand and wrist still during the reading.
12. Unwind With the Mindfulness App
Take a quick break from the daily grind through your Apple Watch’s Mindfulness app. The app offers two different modes to help you focus on something when you need to relax or just redirect your mind. Reflect mode asks you to think about something in your life—a memory, an idea, an emotion—and ruminate on it for a minute or longer. Breathe mode prompts you to breathe in and out for a minute to try to ease your mind and body.