In this COVID-19 era, it’s hardly surprising that more of us than ever are worried about our health and well-being. Not only are we dealing with the ever-present concern of contracting the virus, but many of us are also coping with the side effects that have come from often prolonged and stressful periods of lockdown or quarantine, such as a lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, and inadequate sleep.
Fortunately, even if you can’t visit your local gym or have an in-person appointment with your physician, there are many readily available digital tools that can help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, even in the middle of the pandemic. For iPhone owners, perhaps the most comprehensive option is the Apple Health app. Initially launched in 2014 and updated many times since then, this highly detailed, built-in iPhone feature offers a centralized platform where you can store your health information, create and track your health and fitness goals, and gain greater insight into your overall well-being.
If you’re new to the Apple Health app, read on for some top tips on how to make the most of this helpful tool.
Understand the different Health categories
Health is organized into four main categories, each of which deals with a different aspect of health and wellness. If you’ve never used Health before, learning more about each of these categories is a good place to start.
Activity—Considered to be the most frequently used category in Health, Activity is the hub for everything related to physical fitness. This is where you can store and track all kinds of data related to your physical activity level, such as your daily steps, running and walking distance, and time spent exercising.
Nutrition—Keeping track of what you eat can enable you to identify particular eating patterns and areas where you could be making healthier choices. The Nutrition category in Health can help you to achieve this goal by assembling all of your nutritional metrics in one place, which will enable you to monitor both your overall food consumption and intake of essential micronutrients.
Sleep—Sleep is one of the most important things that contributes to good overall health, and yet for many people, a good night’s rest can be elusive due to stress, overwork, or many other factors. The Health app’s Sleep category can help you to maintain a consistent bedtime, track your sleeping habits and sleep quality, and identify the best time for you to wake up in the morning.
Mindfulness—Now more than ever, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of news and information that smartphones and other digital devices provide. In response, the Mindfulness category aims to help you to find calm—rather than stress—through your smartphone. This feature of the Health app prompts you to carve out moments throughout the day to simply breathe and quiet your mind, as well as to provide you with other tips and resources for combatting stress and improving your mental health.
Explore third-party apps
As described earlier, Apple Health is a great system that allows you to collect and study all of your health data in one place. And while you can certainly choose to enter the data manually—for example, if you keep a written log of your workouts, you can enter that information into Health yourself—third-party apps offer a much easier way to generate and record all of your relevant health and fitness data. If you’re already using third-party apps that you like, you can easily connect and integrate these with Apple Health. If you’re not sure which apps would work best for you, each of the four different Health categories offers a set of recommended apps that you can explore.
To improve the functionality of Apple Health even more, you might want to consider using one or more accessories. The most popular accessories to use together with Health are wearables such as the Apple Watch. These devices track and record your health and fitness information, such as how many steps you walked in a given day, how long you slept at night, or what your heart rate was during a physical activity. Subsequently, it will export that data directly to Health.
Import medical data
If you’re dealing with any ongoing medical conditions, it can be helpful to have easy access to information concerning your medical history. As of 2018, it’s possible to do so with Apple Health. If your primary care physician or clinic supports this feature, you can choose to import your health and medical records from your provider directly into Health. This will enable you to verify key medical details, such as blood pressure levels, test results, and medication doses at any time.
Protect your data
Information about your health is very sensitive, and it’s important to make sure that all data stored in and used by Health is protected. To check up on your privacy, and to control what other apps and devices can access this personal data, you can explore the Privacy option in the Summary section of Apple Health. You then have the option to add or revoke permissions for individual apps and data types.