Apple Health: Top feature for Watch and iPhone

Today, April 7th, is World Health Day. With that in mind, we’ve got a roundup of some of the most valuable health features to try (or revisit) on Apple Watch and iPhone, with third-party accessories and apps that sync with Apple Health, tips for avoiding back pain at your desk, and more .

We’ll start with a look at the native health and fitness features on iPhone and Apple Watch and end with third-party accessories and apps that offer features and tracking that Apple doesn’t offer. We’ll finish with tips on how to prevent back pain and neck strain while using the computer, as well as tips and tricks on how to keep your iPhone clean.

iPhone health features

The two main native places to look at health features with the iPhone are at Apple:

With the fitness app you have one hub for all your fitness and exercise data. Swipe down when looking at the main Summary tab to see your various trends over time.

The fitness app includes Apple Fitness+, of course, if you’re trying the service for the first time or want to try again if it’s been a while.

Meanwhile, Apple’s Health app stores a wider range of data with categories like activity, body measurements, cycle tracking, hearing, heart, medication, mindfulness, mobility, nutrition, breathing, sleep, symptoms, vital signs, and other data.

All of this health data can be saved manually or automatically when using iPhone, Apple Watch and other Apple Health supported accessories and apps.

A neat new option introduced with iOS 16 is the ability to track and manage supplements and medications in Apple’s Health app.

Apple Watch health features

While you can view all of your health and fitness data on iPhone, the Apple Watch is a seamless way to track activity, heart health, and more—which automatically saves with iPhone. Here are some valuable features to try or revisit:

High and low heart rate notifications If you want to be notified when your heart rate falls below or above a certain threshold and stays there for 10 minutes, this feature is available to people aged 13 and over. If you didn’t turn it on when you first opened the Heart Rate app, or want to change it: Open the Watch app on your iPhone. Swipe down and select Heart (on the My Watch tab). Tap High heart rate > select a threshold Low heart rate > select a threshold. Irregular heart rhythm notifications

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This function does the following:

“If you receive a notification, the irregular rhythm notification feature on your Apple Watch has identified an irregular rhythm suggestive of atrial fibrillation and confirmed it with multiple readings.
If you have not been diagnosed with AFib by a doctor, you should talk to your doctor.

To ensure this feature is set up:

Open the Health app on your iPhone. Select “Browse” in the lower right corner. Now tap on “Heart”. Swipe down and under Irregular rhythm notifications, find Setup. If you don’t see this in the Health app, open the Watch app on iPhone Heart (under the My Watch tab) Tap the toggle next to Irregular Rhythm EKG and Atrial Fibrillation History The ability to view EKGs with the Apple Watch included came in 2018 with the Apple Watch Series 4, starting in the US. In the years since, the valuable and impressive feature has expanded to over 100 countries. EKGs are for Apple Watch users who are at least 22 years old. If you’ve never used it or didn’t set it up when you first got your watch: Open the Health app on your iPhone. Select “Browse” in the lower right corner. Now tap on “Heart” > “ECG” > “Setup”. Newer AFib history feature – this periodically checks for signs of AFib in the background. Go back to the Health app on your iPhone. Browse > Heart > look for ‘Setup’ under AFib History below.

Apple emphasizes that after an EKG, “regardless of the result, if you’re not feeling well or have any symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.”

cardio fitness

Here’s how Apple describes Cardio Fitness (VO2 max):

“Cardio fitness is a measurement of your VO2max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise. Your cardio fitness level is a strong indicator of your overall physical health and an indicator of your long-term health.”

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Check out how to get started with this, or look at your data in our complete guide:

cardio recovery

Like HRV and VO2 max, cardio recovery, or heart rate recovery, is a lesser-known health metric measured by the Apple Watch every time you track a workout. Cardio Recovery measures how much your heart rate drops immediately after your workout. As with heart rate variability, heart rate recovery (HRR) provides insight into your heart health by showing how quickly it responds to the autonomic nervous system.

Learn how to set it up and more in our full guide:

Heart rate variability (HRV)

Heart rate variability (HRV) is automatically captured by the Apple Watch but cannot be viewed in the wearable’s native heart rate app. You need to go to iPhone’s Health app > Browse > Heart.

What is HRV? It’s the measure of how the time interval between heartbeats is changing, measured in milliseconds – specifically, this is a metric that changes a lot, so it’s most helpful to look at general trends rather than daily numbers.

HRV is considered by many medical professionals to be a powerful indicator not only of current general health and endurance of the heart and body, but also as a strong predictor of future mortality.

HRV is also often used as a signal to understand when the body is ready for exercise or rest. All of this is thanks to HRV, which shows how well the heart responds to our autonomic nervous system.

History of heart data On Apple Watch Go to the heart rate app on your Apple Watch to view the daily data (app with heart icon). You can see your current heart rate, swipe or scroll down with the Digital Crown. Now you can see your resting heart rate, walking average, workout heart rate and heart rate recovery data (if you’ve recently completed a workout) heart rate history on iPhone

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Checking your heart rate history captured by Apple Watch on iPhone will give you the most data. Here you can find them:

Open the Health app on your iPhone. Tap the Browse tab in the bottom right, then tap Heart. On the main page you can see the different heart rate categories. Tap one to view your history. Above you can toggle the data window between Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Yearly (H, D, W, M, Y). Down you see heart rate highlights and more information about each type of heart rate data

Further down the main Heart section, you’ll see more data like cardio fitness, EKG results, blood pressure readings, and low/high/irregular heart rate notifications.

sleep tracking

Apple Watch includes native sleep tracking, but if you want to get richer data, there are a number of great third-party apps you can use. Check out all the details in our full guide:

Accessories and apps supported by Apple Health

The Withings Body Cardio smart scale is Apple Health compatible and one of my favorite accessories. It even offers a Vascular Age feature that measures the “rate at which the blood pressure pulse propagates through the circulatory system.”

With these measurements, the smart scale can determine your arterial stiffness and health compared to the average of people in your age group.

Body Cardio also tracks weight, BMI, body composition (water, fat, bone, and muscle), heart rate tracking, and more.

And if you want to seamlessly measure and track your blood pressure with Apple Health, Withings BPM Connect is a great option.

Of course there are many more accessories that record health data with the iPhone, just look up “Works with Apple Health” if you look around.

Some of my favorite apps that work with Apple Health are:

posture, computer size, more

For tips and tricks on sitting properly at your desk, tips and tricks on how to clean your iPhone, and more, check out our guides below:

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