Building Strength and Endurance with the Workout App - The Apple Watch in Health & Fitness - Get Fit with Apple Watch: Using the Apple Watch for Health and Fitness (2015)

Get Fit with Apple Watch: Using the Apple Watch for Health and Fitness (2015)

Part II. The Apple Watch in Health & Fitness

Chapter 6. Building Strength and Endurance with the Workout App

Allen G. Taylor1


London, England

For the health and fitness enthusiast, this is the one to use to track and record your progress in aerobic workouts. Workout types include Outdoor Running, Outdoor Walking, Outdoor Cycle, Indoor Running, Indoor Walking, Indoor Cycle, Elliptical, Rower, Stair Stepper, and Other.


In Chapter 9, I will be describing third-party apps that cover some of the same ground as the built-in Workout app. In many cases, the third-party apps provide information that the built-in app does not, and vice versa. You may decide to use more than one during a workout to get a more complete picture of your performance.

Before Starting Any Workout Program

The object of working out is to improve your health and fitness, and a well-designed program will definitely do that. However, it is also possible to damage your health by engaging in a program that is not right for your body or your current state of fitness. It is always advisable to consult your doctor before making any significant change in your customary exercise program.

While you are working out, be alert to what your body is telling you. If it is telling you that it is not ready to reach the goals that you have set for yourself on your Apple Watch, back off. Gradual progress from goals that you can achieve comfortably is the best way to improve. Move from one performance plateau to the next after you have spent some time on your current plateau. Don’t try to be a hero and reach too far.

How Your Progress Is Tracked

Each of the exercise types that the Workout app supports has characteristics that can be measured by the sensors in the watch. The movements that you make, how rapid and forceful they are, and your heart rate are all measured and fed into an algorithm. From those readings, plus the duration of the activity, the Workout app can estimate how many calories you have burned during the workout.

The algorithm takes into account the type of activity you are engaged in. For example, an outdoor run will burn more calories than will an outdoor walk, even if both continue for the same amount of time, say, 30 minutes. The Other category is a catchall designed to handle any activity other than the ones explicitly named. Since the Workout app does not know how vigorous your activity will be in the unknown Other activity, it makes an assumption. It assumes your calorie burn rate will be the same as it would be for a brisk walk. For this reason, the accuracy of the calorie count that it gives you will probably not be quite as good as for the known activities. Apple has done considerable research on the calorie burn rate for a variety of different types of people for each of the known workout types.

At the beginning of the workout, set your goal, or even No Goal, which will vary from one exercise type to another, and then press the virtual Start button. At that point, commence exercising. When you have reached your goal, your watch sounds a tone and taps your wrist lightly with its taptic engine. It then congratulates you on a job well done.


Pressing down hard on the screen will display the page with the End and Pause virtual buttons. Swiping from left to right through all the screens will also take you to the End/Pause screen. If for any reason (such as to take a phone call) you want to pause your activity, tap the Pause (double vertical bar) button. When you have finished the activity, tap the End button, which is an X icon.


Be sure to tap the X icon at the end of your workout to inform your Apple Watch that the workout has ended. If you neglect to do this, the Workout app will continue to rack up calories burned as if you were still exercising. This can lead to some ridiculous calorie burn totals that will distort your statistics. At the end of each exercise, you are given the option to either save or delete the result of the workout. You probably want to delete those for which you forgot to tap the X icon at the end of the workout. Figure 6-1 shows the workout ending screen, featuring the X that you tap to formally end the workout.


Figure 6-1.

Workout End/Pause buttons


The Workout app uses a lot of electricity while it is running. This will cause your watch battery to run down, and you may not make it to the end of the day before your watch asks you if you want to switch to power reserve mode. In power reserve mode, Apple Watch shuts down all its functions except time keeping. Even the time is not displayed unless you press the button next to the digital crown. Use the Workout app judiciously, and be sure to turn it off just as soon as your workout is finished.

Supported Workouts

Different workouts make different demands on your body and burn calories at different rates. For that reason, Apple has calibrated nine of the most common activities that people do for fitness workouts. When you want to perform one of these nine workouts, you can choose it from the Workout app, and it will estimate the calories you are burning with that activity, based on the testing that Apple has previously done in its fitness lab. As you add workouts to the data available to the app, it will adjust to more closely track your actual exertion level.

Outdoor Running

Outdoor running is my favorite workout. It is highly efficient in that you can burn more calories in less time than you can with any of the other standard workouts. It has other benefits too, of course. One benefit is that it doesn’t require any special equipment. If you are out in the country, the fresh country air can be a joy to breathe. The sights and sounds of the area you run through can be beautiful and relaxing. Even in the city, you can probably find a pleasant place to run. Getting away from your normal duties and concerns can free your mind to live in the moment. I have some of my best ideas while out running.

Set your goal for the exercise on your watch for the distance you want to run, the number of calories you want to burn, the amount of time you want the exercise to last, or no goal at all. Figure 6-2 shows the Outdoor Running start screen with a distance goal. You can either increase or decrease the distance you want to run by tapping the plus (+) sign or the minus (-) sign or by twirling the digital crown either up or down. This will increment or decrement the displayed distance by a fraction of a mile (or a fraction of a kilometer if your app is set to record kilometers rather than miles). You can set the distance you want to run today using repeated taps. It’s a lot easier to just twirl the crown, so that’s what I do. As a default, the watch will start with the most recent distance you have run and will also list the longest distance you have run previously.


Figure 6-2.

Outdoor Run start screen

If the app is set, for example, to record distances in miles and for this workout you would like to use kilometers instead, just press firmly on the display. The screen will change to the MI/KM display, and you can select a new set of distance-measuring units.

If you choose to save your workouts, the Workout app will remind you of your longest run so far and thereby encourage you to exceed it. You can set your current goal to either the longest or the most recent run that you have made, or you can set it to another distance of your choice with a twirl of the digital crown.

When you start running, the app will start measuring your heart rate and will continuously monitor it during your run. You can see your current heart rate as you run by merely glancing at your watch. This is useful because you can judge your level of effort by your heart rate and adjust your speed up or down to keep it in the range that your doctor has recommended for you based on your age and fitness level. It will also tell you how long you have been running so far. Figure 6-3 shows a typical display.


Figure 6-3.

Workout screen in the middle of a run

I find that keeping tabs on my heart rate occasionally during a run keeps me in my optimal performance zone. On hilly terrain, it is interesting to see how my heart rate changes when transitioning from an uphill climb to a downhill stretch.

In addition to heart rate, the Workout app also tracks and displays elapsed time, pace, distance traveled, and calories burned. You can display whichever of those is of most interest to you on your watch while you are running. With a swipe you can move from one display to another. The app tracks and displays all this data on the fly in real time.

Outdoor Walking

If you are just getting started with an exercise program, it is a good idea to start with walking before you consider running. For the outdoor walk activity, you can set a calorie burn goal, a time of activity goal, or a distance goal as you do with the outdoor run activity. You can also choose the No Goal option if you want to record a workout but with no fixed goal in mind. Figure 6-4 shows the display for the calorie burn goal.


Figure 6-4.

Outdoor Walk calorie burn goal

Everyone has a different level of fitness to begin, walks a different route over different terrain, and has a different preferred speed. Some people may walk with their dog, in which case the dog may have a preferred speed. Because of all these variables, it makes sense to set your calorie burn goal low at first until you can figure out what it should be for one of your typical walking sessions. As with running, don’t forget to tap the End button at the end of your walk. As with the Outdoor Run app, your heart rate is continuously monitored during the exercise, and you can see it at a glance. A record is also kept that you can review later on the Health app on your iPhone.

Outdoor Cycling

The Outdoor Cycle activity is like the Outdoor Run and Outdoor Walk activities in that you can set a goal for either calories to burn, distance to travel, or time to spend on the activity, or you can leave it open ended and not set a goal. The starting display is the same as it is for outdoor running or walking and you set your goal the same way, either with the digital crown or with the plus or minus signs on the display. The information the app gives you during the exercise is the same too, including elapsed time, current speed, distance traveled so far, and heart rate.

As with the running and walking apps, pressing on the display or swiping from left to right across the display brings up the End and Pause buttons. If, for example, you ride to the store to pick up a few groceries, you can pause the workout before going into the store and then resume it when you mount your bike to head back home. This way, you can get credit for a workout and perform some useful task at the same time.

Indoor Walking

Walking is a good exercise, even if it is not convenient to do it outside, either because of bad weather or for some other reason. This is where a treadmill comes in handy. If you have one at home or a membership at a local gym, you can do your walking workout inside, where the weather is always clement. If you don’t have access to a treadmill, you can achieve much of the same effect by walking around in circles. That’s what I do when I want the Activity app to recognize the fact that I have stood up for at least a minute.

As I mentioned in Chapter 5, the Activity app cannot recognize whether you are sitting or standing if you have been standing still for a long time, as I do at my stand-up desk. To get the Activity app to recognize the fact that I am indeed on my feet, I walk in a loop from my kitchen to the dining room to the living room and then back to the kitchen again. When I do this several times, the app recognizes that I have indeed stood up for at least a minute.

Indoor walking differs from outdoor walking in that you are not traveling any appreciable distance. This means that the GPS in your iPhone cannot track the route you have traveled and calculate the distance you have covered. The Workout app nonetheless calculates the distance you have traveled, and if you have entered a distance goal, it will congratulate you when it determines that you have reached your goal. Lacking the additional information that GPS would have provided, the distance it displays will not be as accurate as it would be for outdoor walking, but it will be a reasonable approximation.


Speaking of approximations, the distances recorded for all the workouts that involve distance are approximations. Even though the display will give you your distance traveled, down to 1/100th of a mile or 1/100th of a kilometer, the accuracy is really not that good. You may find variations of as much as one-tenth of a mile on multiple traversals of the same course. For indoor walking and indoor running, the reading will typically be even less accurate. However, it will still be in the ballpark. If your goal in working out is to improve your overall fitness, putting in an exact number of miles per day is probably not the important thing. The important thing is that you are working out regularly at the level of effort that is appropriate for where you are in your conditioning program.

Indoor Running

You can get in an indoor running workout by cranking up the speed on your treadmill to your preferred running pace. Everything else remains the same as for indoor walking. The Workout app counts calories burned, tracks the duration of exercise, and approximates “distance” traveled; it then congratulates you when you reach the workout goal that you have set. You will burn calories faster while running than you would by walking, so you should reach your calorie goal sooner. Of course, if you set an exercise duration goal, that’s how long the exercise will last, whether you ware walking or running.

Indoor Cycling

Well-equipped gyms today have stationary bicycles that you can “ride” to maintain fitness when riding a real bicycle outside is not feasible. Bad weather is one reason not to mount a real bicycle. Another is being in a place where cycling is not possible or not safe. When on vacation on a cruise ship, for example, cycling around the promenade deck is not permitted. Luckily, all cruise ships have gyms, and most are equipped with stationary bicycles. If you live in a city that experiences smog alerts, exercising indoors is probably a good idea on those days. This applies to walking and running as well as cycling. During pollen season, people with allergies or other respiratory problems would be well advised to favor indoor workouts. The Indoor Cycle activity in the Workout app operates the same way as the indoor walk and indoor run activities. You can set a calorie goal, a time goal, or no goal, before pressing the Start button. Calories burned, elapsed time, and heart rate will be continuously recorded. At the end of the exercise, you can choose to either save or discard the record of the session.


Like the indoor walk, run, and cycle, working out on the elliptical machine does not involve movement from one place to another, so GPS tracking is not effective. However, it is a real workout and can be quite strenuous. The extensive testing that Apple did before the release of the Apple Watch included taking measurements of the energy expended by a variety of people as they exercised on elliptical machines. Based on those tests, it calculated the number of calories expended, based on the elapsed time and the exerciser’s heart rate. The watch display shows all three: elapsed time, calories burned, and heart rate. An elliptical workout can be a vigorous aerobic exercise that strengthens muscles as well as the cardiovascular system.


The rowing machine in the gym simulates the exercise your body would get if you were rowing a boat. It works your shoulders and your calves as well as your cardiovascular system. You can burn more calories on a rowing machine than you can on an elliptical machine, for the same amount of minutes spent on the exercise.

As is the case for the elliptical workout, the Apple Watch records elapsed time, calories burned, and heart rate while you are rowing. If you save the data taken during a workout, you can review it later. The app will retain both your longest and your most recent workout. You can set either one as a goal to shoot for that same duration again, a calorie burn goal, or a new goal of your choosing, or you can exercise without a specific goal.

Stair Stepper

The stair stepper is another machine you will find in health and fitness gyms, designed to build your cardiovascular fitness. As the name implies, it simulates the action of climbing a flight of stairs. For that reason it also helps to strengthen the muscles in your legs and lower body. As with the elliptical machine and rower, your Apple Watch will record and display your heart rate and will also record elapsed time and estimated calories burned. The calories-burned estimate, as is the case for all the other exercises that GPS cannot detect movement in, is based on tests run at Apple’s fitness lab. You can set a goal for the duration of your workout, or you can record your session with no fixed goal.


Of course, there are a lot of exercises you might do that are not included in the previous list. For these you can select the Other option. Your Watch will assume that whatever you are doing, it will work your body at a level equivalent to a brisk walk. As with the stationary exercises, elapsed time, calories burned, and heart rate will be recorded and will be saved if you choose to save them.

How the Workout App Works

The Workout app pulls in heart rate data from your watch’s heart rate sensor, location data from your iPhone’s GPS signal, and motion data from the watch’s accelerometer. The accelerometer measures total body movement and steps taken. Its readings are used to calculate the calories you burn throughout the day. The heart rate sensor delivers data that is used to help calculate the intensity of a workout, which in turn feeds into the calculation of calories burned.

Setting Workout Goals

People come in all shapes and sizes, ages, and levels of conditioning, and they have different ideas about what they want to gain from an exercise program. Some just want to slow the decline in their physical capacity as they age. Others may want to build up their body to the point where it is performing at an elite level. In between there are a near infinite number of intermediate goals.

One of the first things you should do after consulting your doctor on any limits that you should not exceed is to set a fitness goal to work toward. If your goal is simply to slow the decline of functionality because of aging, starting an exercise program will surely do that. You will almost surely find that your goal is too conservative. A regular exercise program should give you increased strength and stamina, as long as you are consistent, giving your health the high priority it deserves.

A more ambitious goal might be to run in a 10-kilometer (10K) race at some point. Your goal should be ambitious enough such that you will have to stretch in order to accomplish it but not so difficult that it is truly beyond what you will ultimately be capable of. Once you do accomplish your initial goal, you can always set a higher one.

Building Cardiovascular Fitness

Your cardiovascular system, consisting of your heart, lungs, and all the blood vessels in your body, is more important for keeping you alive than anything else. As such, it should be the top priority of your workout program. All exercises will raise your heart rate above what it is when you are sitting quietly, reading, watching TV, or typing a book manuscript as I am doing now. However, the exercises that will do your cardiovascular system the most good are the ones that will raise your heart rate the most, as long as they don’t put you in danger from overexertion.

The nine workouts featured by the Workout app are all good for building up your cardiovascular system. You may choose one that you particularly like, or you could mix things up and do one exercise on one day and another exercise on a different day. You could even do a different exercise on each day of the week. You would get your cardio work in that way, but you would also work different muscle groups, giving you a more all-around strength-building experience.

Shaping and Toning

Beyond the basic cardio workouts, some people may want to improve their appearance by creating a more classic shape. Abdominal exercises are an example of workouts that can help with this. You can use the Workout app when doing ab exercises, using the Other choice rather than one of the nine specific ones such as Outdoor Run or Elliptical. You may also want to use one of the third-party apps specifically targeted at ab workouts. I will cover these in Chapter 9.

Building Strength

Any exercise that you do will build strength in one or more muscle groups. Running will surely build strength in your leg muscles, as will cycling, providing you do it vigorously. Even walking slowly will at least help you keep the strength you already have. All these activities also strengthen your cardiovascular system. The elliptical machine and rower also work your arms and upper body. Using the Workout app along with these activities will help to keep you disciplined and will give you a sense of how much effort you have expended doing each of these exercises. While the Workout app is active, heart-rate data is being continuously sent to the Health app on your iPhone. You can review this data after a workout to get a sense of how hard each exercise is pushing you.

Tracking Progress with the iPhone Health App

The Health app on the iPhone acts as a repository for up-to-date information on the state of its owner’s health. It accepts information from a variety of health-related apps, devices, and its paired Apple Watch to create a picture of the current health of the owner, as well as historical health data. Some of that data will be automatically routed to the Health app from the Workout app, some will be routed from third-party apps, and some can be entered manually by the iPhone owner.

The Dashboard

The Dashboard gives you a quick picture, in the form of line graphs, of how you have been performing. You can look at a year’s worth of data, a month’s worth, a week’s worth, or a day’s worth. The quantities being tracked are either data points sent in by apps or data points entered by you, based on measurements such as weight, which are not measured by a connected device. There are a number of different quantities that you can display on the Dashboard. I will briefly describe the ones that I find most useful. Figure 6-5 shows the Dashboard.


Figure 6-5.

Health app Dashboard

Walking + Running Distance

Walking and running distance is tracked using your iPhone with its GPS capability. Software determines by the speed at which you are traveling whether you are either walking or running or traveling in some kind of vehicle, such as a bicycle or automobile. Only the distance covered at a normal walking or running pace will be recorded in the Walking + Running Distance category. If you are a bicyclist rather than a runner, your workouts will be recorded under Cycling Distance. Figure 6-6 shows the Walking + Running Distance graph with the current month’s data displayed.


Figure 6-6.

Walking + Running Distance display on Dashboard

There is an option to either show or not show this chart on the Dashboard, as well as an option to show all the data in this category that the Health app has collected. You can also add a data point manually.


Neither the Apple Watch nor the iPhone has a way of measuring your weight…yet. To keep track of this, you will need to enter your weight manually. Figure 6-7 shows how my weight has varied during the current month.


Figure 6-7.

Weight display on Dashboard

Body Mass Index

Body mass index (BMI) is a simple computation based on a person’s height and weight. Assuming your height doesn’t change from day to day, it will track changes in weight. The Health app will do the computation for you. All you need to do is accept the answer it provides you. BMI moves up and down in sync with changes in weight, so the BMI graph looks exactly like the Weight graph.

Heart Rate

The Health app uses the heart-rate sensor in the Apple Watch or a sensor embedded in a chest strap paired with either the Workout app or a third-party fitness app to record your heart rate during an exercise. If your Workout app is running, it will take data from the Apple Watch. If you are wearing your chest strap and running a third-party fitness app, the Health app will take data from that. The Dashboard display shows a bar graph in which the bottom end of each day’s bar shows the lowest heart rate during the day, and the top end shows your highest heart rate during the day. Figure 6-8 shows the current month’s high and low heart-rate data.


Figure 6-8.

Heart Rate display on Dashboard


The accelerometer in your Apple Watch and the one in your iPhone emit a distinctive signal when you take a step, either while walking or running. The Health app counts these steps and displays them on the dashboard. One way to improve your fitness is to take more steps during the day. With the Steps display on the Dashboard, you can see how you are doing and perhaps reverse a trend of ever-lower step counts. Figure 6-9 shows the current month’s data for Steps.


Figure 6-9.

Steps display on Dashboard


The Workouts display on the Dashboard records the time you spend exercising each day, where a level of exertion at or above that of a brisk walk counts as time spent working out. Workout data is recorded as a bar graph, and your average time spent working out over the past month is shown as well as the amount of time you spent working out yesterday. After your first workout of the day, yesterday’s data is replaced by today’s data.

Health Data

With the Health app on your iPhone, you can record and retain information about every aspect of your health and level of fitness. You can enter some information yourself, and other data will be sent automatically to the Health app from the Workout app on your Apple Watch or from third-party fitness apps running on your Apple Watch or iPhone.

Body Measurements

Body Measurements is an example of a category of information that currently you must enter manually. The items measured are as follows:

· Body fat percentage

· Body mass index

· Height

· Lean body mass

· Weight

Height and weight are easily measured, and the Health app will compute the body mass index from those two quantities. Body fat percentage and lean body mass require a more elaborate measurement. If you have been tested for those things, you can enter the results of the tests here. If you have not, in most cases you can do just fine without that data.


The Fitness category tracks the things you have been doing to improve your overall fitness. In many cases these are the same things that you have been tracking on the Dashboard. The categories are as follows:

· Active Calories

· Cycling Distance

· Flights Climbed

· NikeFuel

· Resting Calories

· Steps

· Walking + Running Distance

· Workouts

When you use the Apple Watch Workout app, it will track active calories burned, cycling distance, resting calories, steps, walking and running distance, and workouts. NikeFuel is a program conducted by Nike (surprise!) that uses the Apple Watch to measure the amount of effort you put into movement. In that sense, it is similar to the Apple Watch’s Workout app. If you use it, your results will show up in the Health app. Flights climbed is an entry you can make manually after climbing one or more flights of stairs.


In the Me category, you can enter a little information about yourself.

· Birth date

· Sex

· Blood type

This data isn’t all that valuable. Your birth date is handy so people can send you a cheerful birthday greeting once a year. Your sex is generally pretty evident just by looking at you. Your blood type might be handy in an emergency situation in which you need a blood transfusion. However, nobody is going to give you a transfusion based just on what your iPhone says. They will take a sample of your blood and type it before giving you a transfusion.


You would have to be a real diet weenie to fill in all the data that could potentially be recorded in this category. You would have to enter it all by hand, since neither your Apple Watch nor your iPhone can sense what you eat and drink. Among many others, nutrients you can enter include the following:

· Biotin

· Caffeine

· Calcium

· Carbohydrates

· Chloride

· Chromium

· Copper

· Dietary calories

· Dietary cholesterol

· Fiber

Good luck entering the number of micrograms of biotin and milligrams of caffeine you consume every day.


Elite athletes preparing for major competitions want to get every last bit of performance out of their bodies, whether it’s that last hundredth of a second in a sprint or that last kilometer in an ultramarathon. To do so, state-of-the-art training programs test and try to optimize every aspect of an athlete’s body and mind. The Health app gives you the opportunity to record physical parameters that are indications of your state of health. Many of these require elaborate instrumentation, but if you have access to these resources, you may be able to squeeze some extra performance out of your body. Tests include the following:

· Blood Alcohol Content

· Blood Glucose

· Electrodermal Activity

· Forced Expiratory Volume, 1 sec

· Forced Vital Capacity

· Inhaler Usage

· Number of Times Fallen

· Oxygen Saturation

· Peak Expiratory Flow Rate

· Peripheral Perfusion Index

Some of this data will come in from source apps, and others can be added manually.


The Apple Watch uses its green LED pulse oximeter to measure heart rate. However, a pulse oximeter is a sophisticated instrument and is capable of measuring more than that. One thing that it could potentially measure is the peripheral perfusion index, which is a measure of the strength of a person’s pulse. In its first release, the Apple Watch does not report this information. Possibly it will in a later release after Apple has had some time to perfect the technology.

Currently all the results in this category must be entered manually. Some will always require manual entry, but others may become measurable with later releases of the source apps that feed data into the Health app.


With the Sleep category, you can record either the amount of time you spend in bed each day or the amount of time you are actually asleep. For “in bed” time, you can record the time you get into bed and then record the time you get up the next day. For “asleep” time, it is a little harder to make accurate entries. After you get into bed, how do you know how long it will take you to go to sleep? The next morning, how do you know when you stopped actually sleeping before being alert enough to make an entry in the Health app? Perhaps a rough estimate of these times is enough for most purposes.


Your vital signs are the measurements that most closely track your state of health. If they fall out of the normal range, you have a serious health problem. When they flatline, you are dead. The following are stored by the Health app:

· Blood pressure

· Body temperature

· Heart rate

· Respiratory rate

Of these, heart rate is measured by the Apple Watch while the Workout app is running. It is also measured by some third-party apps that also serve as sources for the Health app. Blood pressure is a quantity that can be calculated, based on measurements made by a pulse oximeter. This function is not available in the initial release of the Apple Watch but may become available in a later release. Currently, there is no sensor for body temperature in the Apple Watch, and it has no way of measuring respiratory rate in breaths per minute. Whenever you have these variables tested, you can enter the results manually.


The Health app can draw data directly from physical devices, such as your Apple Watch and your iPhone, as well as from third-party apps. The following are a few apps that can serve as sources for the Health app along with the types of data they share.


MyHeart is one of the Research Kit apps. Run by Stanford University, it monitors study participants for possible cardiovascular abnormalities. MyHeart will share only two data items with the Health app: a person’s height and weight. However, it will gladly accept many data items that the Health app is willing to share with it, such as the following:

· Blood glucose

· Cycling distance

· Date of birth

· Diastolic blood pressure

· Flights climbed

· Heart rate

· Height

· Oxygen saturation

· Sex

· Sleep analysis

· Steps

· Systolic blood pressure

· Walking and running distance

· Weight

· Workouts

By taking and analyzing all this data, the researchers hope to determine what factors increase chances of contracting cardiovascular disease and what practices or characteristics might be protective against it. Some of these data items, such as systolic and diastolic blood pressure, cycling distance, steps, and walking and running distance can be gleaned from the Apple Watch Workout app. People enrolled in the MyHeart program can contribute data to the program every time they engage in a workout.


Research Kit is a collaboration between Apple and several groups of academic researchers, investigating various diseases and conditions. The idea is to collect data from test subjects who own an Apple Watch and are willing to share their data with the researchers.


The RunKeeper fitness app shares more than just height and weight information with the Health app. It also shares active calories burned, cycling distance, walking and running distance, and workouts.

The Health app will share all those same things, in the reverse direction, with RunKeeper as well as sharing the date of birth and sex of the user.

Runtastic and Runtastic Pro

Runtastic, like RunKeeper, shares active calories burned, cycling distance, walking and running distance, and workouts with the Health app but does not share height and weight data. Furthermore, Runtastic does not accept any information coming in the reverse direction from the Health app. If you want any data to be recorded in either Runtastic or Runtastic Pro, you will have to enter it manually rather than it coming in from another app.


Strava is another fitness app similar to RunKeeper and Runtastic. Like those two apps, it will write to the Health app the data that it takes for active calories, cycling distance, walking and running distance, and workouts. It will also read from the Health app the date of birth, sex, and weight information.

Aside from RunKeeper, Runtastic, and Strava, there are many other fitness apps, too numerous to mention, that make use of the sensors in the Apple Watch. Try several and then stick with the one you like best.

Medical ID

The Medical ID screen in the Health app gives your name and birth date as well as any medical conditions that you have chosen to reveal about yourself. If emergency medical personnel encounter you at a time when you are unable to communicate, information listed here could enable them to give you more appropriate treatment than they otherwise could.

Setting New Goals

After you have set goals that stretch your capabilities just a little bit, you will eventually reach a point where you are able to meet those goals consistently. When this happens, it is time to set new goals. Perhaps you should be running a longer distance or at a faster speed. Perhaps you should increase the number of minutes per day that you spend working out. Aim to always be in the position of being just slightly out of your comfort zone. A workout should be hard work. Just make sure you do not overdo it.


The Workout app is the Apple Watch’s primary tool for motivating you to engage in vigorous exercise of some form every day. If you use it on a consistent basis, you will get stronger and faster and have more endurance. The secret to progress is to use the app consistently. Once use of the Workout app becomes habitual, your fitness level will improve as a matter of course.