Everyone’s relationship with physical activity is different. Some prefer to go on a light walk or a run—maybe you like rollerskating, a fun activity for the summer. What can improve your experience of being active is having the ability to track your steps or track how many calories you’ve lost. When the Apple Watch was introduced eight years ago, this was its main pillar. “The first Apple Watch had fitness features and a heart rate sensor, so the foundation was there for a deeper dive into the health space. But what really pushed us to go further were the letters we received from users,” said Dr. Sumbul Ahmad Desai, Vice President of Health at Apple. “They would tell us how [the] Apple Watch helped them improve their habits or start a new workout routine. In some cases, users learned about a health issue, all from seeing unusual changes in their heart rate. The more we heard from our users, the more we realized what else we could do to help them.”

Since then, various features for the Apple Watch have been introduced, encouraging users to have a more hands-on, active lifestyle while being able to track all sorts of data with just a few swipes—tracking your menstrual cycle, your physical activity patterns and sharing your progress with your loved ones—to name a few. Whether you’re new to using an Apple Watch or want to take your usage to higher levels, here are five ways that you can use it in your life.

Monitoring Your Sleep Routine 

Having a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy. Using the Sleep app on the watch, you’re able to track when you sleep, how long you sleep, and the type of sleep you get. “Getting optimal sleep translates into optimal energy.  A good sleep is an average of 7–8 hours per night in a cool, dark, silent room. [The] Apple Watch is a great tool for tracking not only hours, but depth of sleep. You can create a bedtime schedule and set notifications reminding you to start winding down to sleep. This sets the stage and gives permission for your body to relax,” says Bryce Wylde, Wellness Expert and Functional Medicine Practitioner.

Dr. Desai elaborated, saying: “The Sleep app feature can help you get into a bedtime routine. Research shows that having a routine leads to better sleep quality. So, we offer ways for users to create their own — maybe listening to a soothing soundscape or meditating before bed. Sleep Mode also darkens the Apple Watch screen and turns off notifications to help users enjoy uninterrupted sleep.”

Health Sharing 

The Health app, which can sync between your iPhone and watch is essential for any Apple Watch user.— A newer feature—Health Sharing–allows you to monitor your loved ones health and ensure they’re doing ok. “For a caregiver, enabling Health Sharing lets you share any information stored in the Health app with a trusted loved one. Having access to data around things like their heart health, mobility and risk of falling can offer peace of mind and support you in conversations with their healthcare provider,” says Wylde. One thing to note is Fall Detection, available on Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 4 or later. “If you’ve suffered a fall, and you don’t respond to an alert within one minute, Apple Watch will contact emergency services and share your location with them, so you can get help,” says Dr. Desai. If you’re age 55 and over, this feature turns on automatically. Furthermore, if you have Health Sharing synced, it will also notify your loved ones.

If those closest to you don’t have an iPhone, Family Setup allows those who need access in relation to health, fitness and other safety features.


Check Your Heartbeat 

Heart health is just as important as mental health. Using the Heart app on the Apple Watch makes it easy to monitor your heart rate—where you can view your resting, walking, breathing, workout and recovery rates during the day. If you have the Series 4 or above, you can take an electrocardiogram or ECG right from your wrist, and capture your heart rhythm and provide heart health data to your physician.

Something users might not know is that the app also tracks Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, one of the most common types of irregular heartbeat that can affect many Canadians. “If left untreated, it can lead to strokes or other heart-related complications. On Apple Watch, we have a feature, irregular rhythm notifications, that alerts users if they’re showing signs of AFib and encourages them to get checked out. We’ve heard from users who got an alert, eve though they weren’t experiencing symptoms and saw a physician, who made the diagnosis. In some cases, their condition was so severe, patients required immediate treatment,” says Dr. Desai.

Activity Rings 

One of the biggest features of the Apple Watch is the Activity app, which is home to three main tasks. The app keeps track of your movement and empowers you to meet your fitness goals each day, using a ring system. It tracks how often you stand, how much you move and how many minutes of exercise you do. There are three rings in different colours to categorize your progress. The Activity trends feature allows you to track your progress over time, which makes it exciting! “The key to a long life is staying active. Being sedentary — such as sitting too much — can be detrimental to your health. Tracking your Stand, Move and Exercise rings on Apple Watch (and closing them daily) are ways to be accountable when thinking about your long-term well-being,” says Wylde.

Dr. Desai also uses the rings in her daily life, saying: “Once you start closing rings and earning badges, your motivation builds to keep going. You can even share your progress with family and friends, if you want. I have to admit there are even times when closing rings can get a little competitive with the people in my life. But at the end of the day, we’re all supporting each other in maintaining healthy habits. It’s a fun way to get moving and keep moving.” Like Health Sharing, there is also Activity Sharing.

Here are the three ring colours and what they mean: 

  • Red is the Move ring: You can complete this by getting to your personal goal of active calories burned. This is the only customizable ring, so feel free to raise your goal at any point you feel ready.
  • Green is the Exercise ring: You can complete this by doing at least 30 minutes of activity at or above a brisk walk.
  • Blue is the Stand ring: You can complete this by moving around for at least 1 minute during 12 different hours in the day.


Maintain Consistent Physical Activity 

At the end of the day, being physically active is a choice. Taking care of your body and nourishing it, is a key way to ensure long-term success. “Our health is our habits. By making the right choices now — getting enough sleep, going for a walk, even taking a moment to breathe —  we can have a positive influence on our overall health weeks, months, years down the line. We could all use a little encouragement sometimes, and Apple Watch can provide that for people no matter where they are on their health journey. Apple Watch is for everyone and everybody,” says Dr. Desai.

She continued: “We want you to live a better day, a healthier day. We want you to have more control of your health information, to have meaningful insights about your well-being. We want you to have better conversations about health with your family, your friends, and your health care provider.”


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