Apple Watch: All the health and fitness features, explained.

apple watch health and fitness features explained

The Apple Watch is an extension of your iPhone, which sits on your wrist and allows you to perform many simple tasks that would otherwise require you to pick up your phone. You can receive calls, reply to text messages and even call an Uber right from your apple watch. But the most underlying feature of the Apple watch; is its array of health and fitness features that genuinely stands head and shoulder above the competition. There are countless instances when these features are grouped together to save lives. So, if you have an Apple watch, make sure to check out these features to help improve your overall health. 

Fall Detection and Emergency SOS Contacts

Starting with the Apple watch series 4, Apple added several sensors to detect falls, and if you do not respond in 30 second after the fall, a countdown starts and after about a minute, an automated alert will be sent to your emergency contacts. They can track your location and help you in urgent medical situations. 

You can turn this feature on inside the Watch app, scroll down to find emergency SOS and turn on fall direction. 

High and Low Heart Rate Notifications

The Apple Watch offers several excellent capabilities that allow you to keep track of your heart rates. High and low heart rate notifications are one of these features, and you get a notification if your heart rate suddenly changes without any physical activity. This can be a good indicator of the high-stress level and anomalies in your heart. This feature is not turned on by default, and you can find it in the Watch app under the heart section.

Cardio Fitness Notifications

The efficiency with which your body utilizes oxygen is referred to as cardio fitness. It groups together data from different sensors, including your heart rate, blood oxygen level, and breathing rate, to formulate a VO2 max score. This score directly translates to how healthy you are and notify you if your fitness level is below a certain level.

You can find your cardio level inside the Health app and under-activity section. Do note that for this function to work, you must track at least two outside walks or runs of at least 20 minutes each using your Apple watch so it can monitor your fitness before presenting a result. 

apple watch cardio fitness app set up

ECG Measurements

Exclusive to apple watch series 4 and onwards, ECG measurement allows you to take a detailed electrocardiogram to check if the rhythm of your heart's electrical activity. On average, it can take up to £100 to get the test done in any reputed hospital and now your watch can do the same with 99.6% accuracy. Although because of regulatory restrictions, ECG is currently available in only 128 countries, with China being the latest name on the list. (not yet updated on apple website).

Blood Oxygen Levels

After the inception of coronavirus or COVID 19 as many call it, more and more people were concerned about their blood oxygen level and needed a way to quickly measure their blood oxygen level to make sure they were not critically ill. Even a drop of a few per cent can force someone to be admitted to the hospital, so with the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple introduced a blood oxygen monitor. You can find it under your Health app, in the respiratory > Blood Oxygen > Set up Blood Oxygen. 

30-second hand wash reminder 

In the same vein as being protected from the coronavirus, Apple introduces a feature where it detects the sound of your hand washing and starts a countdown timer. This literally forces you to wash for at least 20 seconds; otherwise, locking the phone for a few seconds prompts you to wash hands properly. It is an excellent feature to help you maintain hygiene, but we did encounter some false readings and did not find it to work every time. Apple is known to perfect a feature before bringing it to the masses; this hand wash does seem a feature they rushed because of the pandemic.

Noise level monitoring 

Apple Watch has built-in noise sensors that can measure your ambient sound and notify you if it reaches a dangerous level. The feature is fairly accurate and is compatible with AirPods, meaning if you hear music with a loud sound, you will be notified to turn it down. Similarly, if you have the new AirPods with noise cancellation and listen to them in a noisy environment, you will not be notified about it as you actually do not hear the sounds around you.

Sleep tracking 

Another feature Apple introduced with the watchOS 7 update was sleep tracking. You can monitor the quality of your sleep, including your detailed heart rate. Sleep mood also turns on the do not disturb mood by default, so you are not disturbed during your long sleeping sessions. 

Sleep tracking with apple watch

One downside with sleep tracking is that you need to wear the watch during your sleep, which can be uncomfortable and put a strain your watch's battery life.

Workout tracking

Whether you run, swim, hike or row a boat, your apple watch will detect that you are engaged in physical activity and prompt you to record it as an exercise. You will get a detailed activity monitor of your exercise with heart rates and blood oxygen levels. This will give you essential insight into your overall health. 

Get Fitter Than Ever With the Apple Watch

Apple watches are small yet powerful devices with various features to help you improve your overall health. Most people will find the features adequate to help them with their fitness. You can further enhance your watch by turning it into a fitness champ by replacing the silicon strap that may come with your watch, and  replace it with a more comfortable ones, which allows air to pass between them. The sports silicone and nylon straps are a great options to try if you are serious about your fitness sessions. You can pick them up from the official apple store, and they will cost you upwards of £100. If spending that much money on a watch strap seems excrescent, you may consider picking up one from a third party store which will cost you around £20 - £30. I really love the Nylon straps; they are comfortable and do not get hot during extended exercise sessions. 

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