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Top features for runners on Apple’s Health app

Your iPhone and Apple Watch can help you track your training, monitor your sleep and even keep you safe on solo runs

All iPhone and Apple Watch users are probably familiar with the Health app, but it’s not one most people check in on every day. For runners, though, whether you have an iPhone and an Apple Watch or just the phone, there are a lot of features you’ll love in this app. It can monitor your sleep, track your exercise and keep you healthy and safe. If you have any Apple products, take a look at these features that every runner needs to know about, then check it out on your own Health app. 

Apple Watch Series 3
Photo: Apple.

GPS tracking 

Odds are, if you have an iPhone or an Apple Watch, you’re already tracking your runs on another app. But sometimes you might forget to start recording a workout, and other times what you had planned to be a short walk turns into a long one, a hike or maybe even a run. Sure, you could just forget about it and move on, but you’re a data-driven athlete, and you like keeping track of every activity you do. That’s where the Health app comes in. In the app, you can view your Health Data, which includes daily steps, walking and running distance and even average speed. With this information, if you get sidetracked and spontaneously end up going for a two-hour hike, you can see exactly how far you went after the fact and add that to your training diary

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Sleep tracking 

Apple Watch users will know that they can track their sleep if they wear their device through the night, but it might come as a surprise that your iPhone can track your sleep, too. Granted, the data won’t be as in-depth as the information you’ll receive from your Apple Watch (which monitors your heart rate, changes in breathing and any movements while you sleep), but it can still paint an accurate picture of your regular sleep schedule. 

For example, when you put your phone away for the night, the Health app will begin to track your sleep, monitoring the length. Whenever you pick your phone up in the night, the app will take note of this and record when you were awake. Finally, when you get up in the morning and open your phone, it will know that you have started the day and officially list how many hours you slept. Of course, this could be skewed if you’re lying awake and not using your phone, but it’s still fairly accurate. 

You can even set up a sleep schedule in the Health app, letting your phone know when you want to get to sleep every night. The app will use a wind down feature to let you know when it’s time to get ready for bed, which can help keep your sleep schedule regular and consistent. This is especially important for athletes, as sleep is one of the most important and effective modes of recovery for the body. 

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Taking care of Apple users 

Also included in the Health app are a few features that were created to keep all iPhone and Apple Watch users safe and healthy. The most important of these is called Fall Detection, which is specific to the Apple Watch. This app is extremely important for runners, especially now during a winter in which everyone has to run solo. It can be slippery out, and many runners will fall this year while working out. If you fall hard enough, you could be seriously injured, and if you’re in a remote area or running at night, there might not be anyone around to help you. With the Fall Detection feature, your Apple Watch will sound an alarm and let you know it sensed a hard fall. Below this message, there will be a button to call for help and another that says “I’m OK.”

Photo: Hilary Matheson

If you’re hurt, you can hit that first button and emergency services will be called. If you don’t respond in a minute, emergency services will be called automatically, as your watch will assume you’re unconscious. This might seem like overkill for a watch, but it could help a lot of people, runners included. 

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