I have used all the Apple Watches that I have owned over the years for health and fitness tracking but since getting the Apple Watch Ultra I have stepped it up. This might be best as it is a bloody expensive bit of kit and I want to get the most out of it or it just makes it easier.
I want to cover the things that I track on a daily basis as well as those that I check less frequently but help to give me a better overall view of my health and fitness. So let’s start with the bits that I track daily.
Sleep tracking has been on the Apple Watch for some time but with watchOS9 it now provides more detail. You can now see the different sleep stages and how long you were in each of these stages, whereas before you would only be able to see how long you were in bed and how long you slept.
The benefit of using the Apple Watch Ultra is the additional battery life that you get over the standard Apple Watches. I can easily make it through two days without having to charge my watch so I don’t have to worry about it having enough charge to track my sleep every day.
As with most health tracking, you can view the details in the health app on your iPhone but you can also see your sleep analysis on your watch itself. You can see when you have scheduled your bed and wake-up times, and sleep cycles and it will also show you how consistent your sleep has been over the previous 14 days.
One thing that I wish the Apple Watch Ultra did tell you was the quality of your sleep. I have gotten around this by downloading an App called Sleep Cycle which takes the data from my Apple Watch Ultra and sends me notifications in the morning which includes a sleep quality score.
I have found my renewed interest in sleep tracking to be beneficial. I am now more aware of how much time I am sleeping and what the quality of my sleep is. I am waiting on my new Oura ring to arrive so it will be interesting to compare the two.
I have only recently started checking this metric daily and you will only see if you have the Apple Watch Ultra or an Apple Watch Series 8. The watch will track your temperature whilst you are sleeping and show you in the health app how it changes/fluctuates from your baseline temperature.
It’s interesting to see the variation from day to day and if something you might have done e.g. eating just before bed or drinking can affect it. I was looking back over the temperature data in the health app the other day and I could quite easily see when I was ill. This is really useful data as you can see when you might be run down or coming down with something and rest.
I personally don’t use this for tracking my cycle but its certainly a useful metric to have for those who what to,
I try to log a workout every day whether that be an outdoor walk (school run in my case) or an indoor bike session (Peloton). There is a wide selection of exercises that you can choose from but at the moment these are the two that I am using.
I love that I can set up the action button on the Apple Watch Ultra to open up a workout app rather than having to open up the app’s grid to select the workout app. This is great for when I am heading out on the school run, it’s quick and easy and is just one of those small things that makes the watch more useable. WatchOS9 has brought some nice features and I like that I can now see more detail by scrolling down. So I can see my activity rings without having to come out of the app.
The other workout that I use the most is the indoor cycle and the fact that it integrates with my Peloton bike. So it syncs with my watch which means that it provides my heart rate and heart rate zones on the bike screen. I love this integration as it is nice and easy to be able to see your training zones and how long you have been in each, or you can tailor your training to stay in a certain zone.
I do love these rings and they are one of the main reasons I stick with the Apple Watch. Out of all the smartwatches that I have tried I find that the way that the Apple Watch displays the exercise, move and stand goals is the most effective for me.
They do keep me on track and I like the fact that I get notifications when I need to move or stand as I have been sitting at my desk for too long. Sharing with friends is also nice as you can compete with your friends to keep you motivated. You also get awards for achieving monthly challenges which are also good motivation for closing those rings.
I do like to track my step count as well which you can see when you press the activity rings on your watch display. I do prefer to have my steps visible on my display all the time so I can see at a glance if need to get moving to hit my 10K a day goal. So I added a complication to my watch face. There are several apps that you can download for this but the one I went for is called StepsApp.
Medication and Supplement Notifications
Again this is a new one with WatchOS9 and a useful one at that. You will need your iPhone to set this up by adding your medication or supplements, how much you take and the frequency. Once you have added them all you will receive a notification on your iPhone and Apple Watch to remind you to take your medication etc.
You can mark it as complete on your Apple Watch which is useful if you don’t have your phone near you or haven’t checked it for a while. I like this feature as I can be quite forgetful at times and this helps me stay on top of taking any medications and supplements on a daily basis, keeping me healthy.
So now onto the metrics that I don’t tend to look at on a daily basis. The first up is Cardio Fitness or VO2 Max. This is a good indication of fitness and those with a higher VO2 Max will have a higher level of cardio fitness and endurance. One of the nice things about the health app against this it tells you if you are below or above average as well as low or high. So it’s easy to see for your age group where you are on the scale.
I like to see if my cardio fitness has stayed the same or if I need to up the amount and intensity of my exercise to improve my fitness. This is certainly one of the metrics that I will be focusing more on in the coming weeks as according to my app this is one of the metrics I should improve on.
Blood Oxygen Levels
This is probably the one that I check the least. I like that it’s tracked in the background so I can just go into the health app and check if I need or want to. You can also measure it anytime by opening the app on your Apple Watch and starting the scan.
You will need your iPhone and health app to read the data which will also capture your blood oxygen whilst you are asleep. This is just useful information for your general health and might alert you to having a conversation if it is below a certain range,
This is one that I do see daily as it’s captured in all of the workouts that I start on my Apple Watch Ultra. I also have it marked as one of my favourites on the summary page. I don’t however tend to go into the app on my Apple Watch Ultra to take a heart rate measurement.
Again this is a great thing to be able to measure on your Apple Watch and help in maintaining your health as well as helping you when it comes to training and measuring your training zones etc.
I love my Apple Watch Ultra and have certainly started to pay more attention to what information it provides. It has also made me think more about my lifestyle and how that can affect my body for either the better or worse.
Of course, the Apple Watch is going to be good for you if you have an iPhone to pair it with. I also think that the health app is very good, it is nicely set out and you can edit the summary page to add your favourites so you can see the information that you want to see right at the top of your display.
I am sure there is more that I could use the Apple Watch for, especially in terms of my fitness but the above are the ones that I have focused on for now and I feel it’s a good start. So if you are looking for a watch that tracks fitness and other health metrics then I would certainly recommend looking at getting an Apple Watch.