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How To Track Your Life With Apple Health

Illustration for article titled How To Track Your Life With Apple Health
Image: Apple

If you have an iPhone, then Apple Health is the obvious choice for keeping track of your daily exercise and just about everything else to do with your health and wellbeing.

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The Health app comes preinstalled with iOS, and it uses the sensors in your phone (and in your connected Apple Watch, if you have one) to keep tabs on the movements you make and how your body’s responding. You can also plug in data from all kinds of other apps, from Strava to Foodvisor.

Here’s your guide on getting the most out of Health—whether you’re loading it up for the first time or you’ve been using it for years.

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Health monitoring and data

Open the Health app on an iPhone and you’ll see that steps, distance covered, and flights climbed are all being tracked for you using your phone’s built-in sensors. The most important stats should be front and center, and you can tap Show All Health Data to see older data and information imported from other apps.

Tap through on any of the entries for a more detailed look at the metrics you’ve accumulated. You can browse by day, week, month, or year, and you can tap the Add Data button to enter exercise and activity manually (in case you didn’t take your phone on your last jog). To see your metrics in even more detail, tap Show All Data inside any category.

Illustration for article titled How To Track Your Life With Apple Health
Screenshot: Apple Health
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The Health app can potentially record so much information that you’re probably going to want to limit the number of graphs that are shown on the main dashboard. If you tap Edit next to Favorites then you can show or hide individual data types (steps, walking distance, hours you’ve been standing, and so on).

Apple Health has gained more capabilities over time with updates to iOS, the iPhone, and the Apple Watch. Tap Browse to see everything Health is capable of monitoring, whether natively or through a connected app—tap Hearing, for example, to see how loud you’ve been using your headphones.

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From the Browse tab you can search for individual data categories—weight, caffeine intake, blood pressure, and so on—as well as access records imported from your health provider (if you haven’t done this you’ll be prompted to do so when you tap on an entry like Allergies or Medications).

Illustration for article titled How To Track Your Life With Apple Health
Screenshot: Apple Health
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For any category that you dive into, and to add new data manually, you can see the apps you’ve connected via Data Sources & Access. If you have several apps installed that take the same measurements, you’ll probably want to disable some of them here. The Health app will also suggest third-party apps that can log data in the category that you’re currently looking at.

The Health app also stores your medical information, like your blood type and any allergies you have. Tap your Apple ID photo from the front screen of the Health app (top right), then tap Medical ID to view and edit the data. If you want to, you can also add an emergency contact from here, which will be accessible from the lock screen.

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Adding apps and devices

You can do much more with Apple Health through the use of third-party apps, and there are more than ever to choose from. You can use Streaks Workout for your workouts, Noom to track your diet and weight, Ten Percent Happier for your mindfulness, and WaterMinder to log your water intake, for example.

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If you’re stuck for inspiration, just open up the Browse tab in the Health app, choose the type of data that you’d like to start recording, and you’ll get a few suggestions for apps from Apple. Remember you can always add data manually, too, though that’s not really something you want to be doing every day.

Illustration for article titled How To Track Your Life With Apple Health
Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo
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There are numerous devices that can feed data into the Health app, too—the Activ5 fitness system, for instance, or the Wahoo Tickr X heart rate monitor. These will cost you extra, but if you can find the right devices for the activities you do frequently, they’re much more convenient than manually entering data.

You can see devices that are plugged into your Apple Health account in the same way you view connected apps: From the Health app, tap Browse, then the type of data, then Data Sources & Access. Devices and apps can be removed from the same screen if you don’t want them logging stats any longer.

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The Apple Watch is of course the ideal device for tracking activities, movement, breathing, and more, as it syncs data automatically with the Health app on your iPhone. New features—such as sleep tracking, coming this fall—arrive with every watchOS update, too.

Illustration for article titled How To Track Your Life With Apple Health
Screenshot: Apple Health
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To see the data that your Apple Watch is syncing with Apple Health, open the Health app, then tap your Apple ID avatar (top right), then Devices, then pick your wearable from the list. You can remove some of this data (Edit) or all of it (Delete All Data) if needed.

From the Watch app on iOS, tap My Watch, then Privacy to set the data that the Apple Watch can and cannot collect, including your heart rate, your physical activities, and the loudness of the environment around you. (If you want to stop your phone from tracking your activities as well, go to Privacy and Motion & Fitness from iOS Settings.)

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David E. Davis