I’ve been fascinated with the iPhone’s Health app lately, and reviewing the changes in my behavior and health data since the pandemic began (and before).
Introducing the Health App
If you’re not familiar with the Health app (pre-installed all iPhones and Apple Watches), it’s designed to be your central repository for health-related data. It gathers information from your iPhone, Apple Watch, and/or third-party apps and consolidates it, so it’s easy to look at health-related over time.
Since I’ve worn an Apple Watch exclusively for many years, the Health app contains data from its three Activity Rings—Stand, Move, and Exercise—from 2016 through today. As I suspected, I was much more active and hit my goals more often before the pandemic. (D’oh!) That being said, it also convinced me to work harder to hit my goals each day from now on.
Time for a Walk
Another thing I was shocked by was how much time I spent walking. In 2016 and 2017 I walked about 44 minutes a day. In 2018 I got serious about it and averaged almost 75 minutes a day. Since then, it’s plummeted to 56 minutes in 2019, 46 minutes in 2020, and 33 minutes so far in 2021.
I knew I hadn’t been walking enough lately, but seeing it in black and white made me recommit to walking 10,000 steps every day whether I feel like it or not.
The Fabulous Free Pedometer++ App
I’m not sure how much or how accurate my step data would be if I hadn’t been using the free Pedometer++ app since time immemorial. If you’re a step-counter, you should install this fabulous free app on your iPhone and your Apple Watch (if you’ve got one).
I display my step count on the Activity Digital watch face as a complication, so I have a constant reminder of how close (or far) I am from my daily goal of 10,000 steps.
Pedometer++ is free, but please consider “tipping” the developer $0.99 or more (via in-app purchase) if you like it as much as I do.
Sweet Dreams are Made of This…
Another thing I was fascinated by in the Health app was how much (or little) I sleep. I began tracking sleep with the free Sleep Cycle app in 2017, and until 2019 I averaged 6 ¾ hours of sleep per night before skyrocketing to more than 9 hours a night in 2020 and 2021. Coincidence or pandemic? You be the judge.
Another thing I like are the Highlights sections, which I recently discovered use machine learning to show you things that matter most in each category. For example, in the Exercise category, I earned 9 fewer minutes a day so far this year than in 2020. On the brighter side, I earned 50% more minutes (34 a day) this week than last (17 a day).
There is one more thing: Much of my data requires (or is improved by) an Apple Watch.