The Health app has been a staple of the iPhone for a few years now, but many users may never have even opened it up. At first sight the app can be rather overwhelming, as it’s absolutely jam-packed with things you can track and monitor.
But once you know where to look, it’s easy to find the features that have the most relevance to your day-to-day well-being. Once you decide what’s important, it’s much easier to get into a regular schedule of recording data.
Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to get started with the Health app.
What to Track With the Health App
The Health app can serve as a comprehensive record of all aspects of your physical well-being. However, you don’t have to use every single piece of functionality that it offers up.
It’s worth picking one or two aspects of your health that you would like to track, and concentrating on them. Realistically, if you have to spend an hour every day entering different kinds of data, you might lose your patience pretty quickly. So start small, and if you see good results, consider tracking another component of your health.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, your iPhone is probably keeping an eye on your activity levels already. The device uses its accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass to track how many steps you take over the course of the day. It might not be completely accurate, but it does give a decent estimate.
If your phone is on your person all the time, you’ll really see the advantages of this functionality. Having a thorough record of that data is useful, because the Health app is very good at presenting this data.
You can view your steps taken by day, week, month, or year. This makes it very easy to establish how active you are at various times. For instance, the month view will quickly clue you in to whether you get more exercise during the week, or at the weekend.
The Health app will track this data automatically, as long as it has permission. However, there are a couple of other ways to input step counts, too. The plus sign situation in the top right hand corner of the screen allows you to manually add a number of steps, which is handy if you head out on a walk or a run and forget your device. You can also feed data into the activity tracker by taking advantage of one of the many apps that offers HealthKit support.
The Nutrition section of the Health app is more of an all-you-can-eat buffet than a light lunch. You can use it to record your intake of everything from caffeine, to copper, to dietary cholesterol.
Don’t let this bevy of options intimidate you. You have no responsibility to tell your iPhone every single detail of your diet, unless you feel like doing so. Start with something simple, and stick to it, then expand. If you want a more powerful way of entering this data, check out Cronometer ($2.99) which syncs your dietary habits with Apple’s Health app automatically.
One particularly straightforward way to start is by tracking your water intake. We all know how important it is to stay hydrated. However, it’s sometimes difficult to remember whether or not you hit your quota until you wake up feeling parched.
Find Water in the Nutrition menu, and press the plus sign in the top right hand corner when you finish your glass or bottle. You can change the Unit from milliliters to pints, if that makes it easier to record your intake.
The Health app provides a great way to remove the guesswork from your sleep pattern. If you already use your iPhone as an alarm clock, it’s well worth setting up Bedtime mode in the Clock app to ensure that you maintain a regular sleeping pattern.
Information from Bedtime will automatically be fed into the Health app, for you to refer to when necessary. You can also download tailor-made apps that offer more detailed analysis of your sleep. For instance, there are various apps that monitor the quality of your rest using the iPhone’s sensors. All you need to do is stow the device under your pillow while you sleep.
The iPhone makes for a convenient alarm, and that’s a key element of integrating the Health app into your day-to-day life. Make recording the data as easy on yourself as possible, and then you’ll have much more information to refer to when you want to analyze what you’re doing well, and what you need to improve upon.
Understandably, weight can be a tricky subject for some. However, keeping an eye on your weight with the Health app can help you take control of your situation and gain a better insight into any fluctuations that may occur.
If you already weigh yourself on a regular basis, get in the habit of entering your readings into the app. You can do this by navigating to Body Measurements > Weight, and tapping the plus sign in the top right hand corner.
The Health app will visualize this data as daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly charts. This will help you observe greater trends in your weight, rather than just a snapshot each day. It would be impossible to keep all that data in your head, but your iPhone makes it easy.
Feeling healthy is all about knowing your body, and the app can be a great tool for recording quantifiable information. Whether it comes in handy two weeks or six months down the line, there are distinct advantages to keeping records.
Keep Things Simple and Use Your Dashboard
So you’ve picked out a couple of different kinds of information that you want to keep an eye on. That’s great! But the Health app might still seem a little overbearing. That’s why it can be useful to designate a few favorites so you can maintain an easily actionable dashboard.
To favorite a particular item, open it up and use the Add to Favorites toggle.When you use the Today tab to access a particular date, you’ll see readings from those data sets and only those data sets.
This is a great way to concentrate on the areas of your health that you consider the most important. The Health app is for your benefit, so make sure you’re using it in a way that works for you.
Do you have any tips on using the Health app? Do you need to help with a particular piece of functionality? Why not join the conversation in the comments section below?