Apple Watch packs a dizzying number of features – from hailing a taxi on Uber, to checking your calendar, answering calls from your wrist, and paying at the checkout. There are plenty of cool tricks squeezed into this wearable. However, if you haven’t used the Apple Watch as a fitness device then you’re really missing out.
Apple’s best-selling smartwatch can keep watch over your heart rate, take an instant ECG from your wrist and, most recently with Apple Watch 6, show how much oxygen is in your blood. As well as monitoring those vital statistics, you can also track your daily exercise routines such as runs, walks and swims along with making sure you stand up enough each day.
It’s all clever stuff, but if you’ve recently joined the wearable revolution you might not be aware of a few extra health features hidden inside the Apple Watch that can really help you achieve your goals.
Here are three of our favourites…
VO2 MAX LEVELS
Apple added this feature late last year with a software update. For those who don’t know, this allows users to monitor their cardiorespiratory fitness via a VO2 max measurement. Now, this all may sound a bit geeky, but it’s actually a really important metric of your overall health and fitness.
With iOS 14.3 on your iPhone and watchOS 7.2 on Apple Watch, users can easily review their cardio fitness level relative to people in the same age group and of the same sex. All of this data is available via the Health app on iPhone and is categorised in one of four ranges: high, above average, below average, or low.
If you’ve become a bit of a couch potato and your cardio fitness level falls into the low range, you can then ask to receive a notification, along with guidance on improving your cardio fitness level over time.
It’s a nice feature as getting a VO2 max measurement would often mean a visit to a lab to complete a rigorous test with specialised equipment.
If you decide it’s time to get fitter, Apple has included a useful chart so you can see exactly how your cardiorespiratory fitness is improving over time.
Apple Fitness+ also launched late last year and offers a range of activities aimed at boosting your activity and wellbeing. The £9.99 a month subscription service features HIIT classes, Yoga sessions, Core exercises and Strength training which all work in tandem with the Apple Watch to keep track of your daily activity levels. Apple Watch can monitor the number of calories burned during a class, how fast you recover from the gruelling workout, and much more.
All of the classes can be viewed on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV with metrics from the Apple Watch displayed on the screen in real-time so you check your heart rate and whether you’re close to closing your “rings” – the visual representation of your daily calorie, stand, and exercise goals.
There’s also the Burn Bar which reveals how well you are performing compared to other Apple Watch users who have also taken part in the class. So, you can find out whether you’re above average.
Once we all get out of lockdown you’ll find classes that you can perform in the gym with treadmill, bike and rowing sessions also part of the service.
A recent update also brings something called “Time to Walk”. This update now joins all the other sessions available as part of the Fitness+ subscription. It brings a collection of stories from top celebs and sports stars straight to the Apple Watch to help make your walks a little more exciting.
For some, Fitness+ might be a little pricey. But thankfully, you won’t have to pay a thing during lockdown – that’s because Apple is currently offering a three-month trial of all its at-home workout class.
If you head into the Fitness app on your phone you can, of course, see all of your most recent activities along with how often you’ve been closing your rings. However, one handy extra that you might not have set up is Trends which shows how well well you are performing over the last 90 days compared to your average fitness levels during the year.
Within Trends you can see a wide range of metrics including Move, Stand and Exercise times along with Running Pace and Distance.
If you’re not doing as well as usual, Apple will give you a subtle nudge via the “Worth a look” panel which shows any downward trends that might need addressing. It’s a really simple way of checking you’re heading in the right direction with your fitness goals.