A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Apple Watch Features for Fitness

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Unboxing a new Apple Watch feels like a holiday in and of itself. Once you've run through the setup, geeked out about the handwashing feature, and picked a watch face that feels like you, any fitness enthusiast may find themselves wondering... what now? With so many features designed to get you sweating, you may need a primer on how to use Apple Watch for fitness.


how to use apple watch for fitness
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Shop now: Apple Watch Series 6, $380

Ahead, we round up the five best Apple Watch Series 6 features for movement (and teach you how to use 'em). From keeping an eye on your heart rate to graphing your activity over time to queuing up a yoga class, here's how to use your new wearable to unlock 360-degree fitness.

How to use Apple Watch to track your fitness goals

1. Monitor your heart during (and outside of) workouts

Your heart is, quite literally, the beating heart of your fitness routine—and Apple Watch gives you a ton of information about how it's doing. By navigating to the red heart app on your watch, you can see your current heart rate, resting heart rate, and walking heart rate. These metrics are an easy and effective way of measuring how your workouts improve your cardiovascular health.

"In general, your heart rate gives you a good indication of your overall health and well being, and how good your cardio fitness is," says cardiovascular specialist Jennifer Haden Haythe, MDYou can calculate your maximum predicted heart rate is 220 minus your age (a 28-year-old should have a maximum heart rate of 192, then). "That doesn't mean you need to be at a heart rate of 192 during your whole workout; it's just your maximum predicted—but you want to get your heart rate up and have it sustained in the 150s, 160s, 170s, and even 180s while you're exerting yourself," adds Dr. Haythe. That means that when you're doing vigorous exercise (like a HIIT workout or sprint training), you should see your heart rate spike towards that 192 goal.

2. Take note of your VO2 Max

Your Apple Watch also keeps track of your VO2 max, or the maximum rate of oxygen your body can take in during exercise. "It can indicate a person’s essential aerobic capacity, or the maximal working heart rate of that individual," Brandon Hirose, a master trainer at Crunch Gym in New York City, previously told Well+Good. After a few workouts, you'll be able to find your VO2 max in the summary section of your fitness app (under the "cardio fitness" trend). Then, watch as it improves over time with all your hard work.

3. Queue up a class on Apple Fitness+

Apple Fitness+, the tech giant's new on-demand workout service, wants to help you close your activity rings every single time. Every Apple Watch user gets a free, three-month trial ($10 per month thereafter) that you can access via the fitness app. Inside, you'll find Pilates, treadmill running, spin, yoga, strength training, and so much more from top-notch trainers like Betina Gozo. The app will also recommend classes for you based on the movement types you already love (and the ones you should do to round out your week of workouts).

4.  Pay attention to your activity summary

Consider your Apple activity summary your dashboard. From there, you'll be able to check how much exercise you've logged in any given day, how many hours you took a break to stand up, and what workouts you've logged over time. This is also where you'll find "trends" or markers of how your physical fitness improves over time. If you shave five seconds off your mile time, you better believe that Apple Watch will notice and give you a gold star. Same if you step up the pace on your morning walk or improve that VO2 max.

5. Share your workouts with other pals who have Apple Watches

One of the most underrated features on the Apple Watch (IMO) is the fact that you can share your workouts with friends. That means that you get to congratulate them when they hit the finish line on a tough workout and receive all the adulation when you do the same. You'll find this feature in the fitness app. Just invite your pal and engage in a little friendly competition.

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