How to Use the Apple Watch as A Fitness Tracker

Have you ever wondered how to use the apple watch as a fitness tracker? The Apple Watch is a companion like no other. Its fitness tracking feature is truly outstanding and while it cannot replace a true doctor, it’s a true aid in achieving fitness and general body wellness. 

How to use apple watch as a fitness tracker
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Its abilities go way beyond counting steps as it focuses on your body wellbeing by tracking your calories and pushing you further to achieve your goals.

The watch monitors heart rate and is able to use your heart rate to detect exercise sessions as well as to differentiate them from normal movements. 

The watch has alarms and notifications that help you focus on your fitness and general wellbeing. If you’ve been having issues keeping fit and sticking to your workout routine, the Apple watch is your one-time opportunity to stay fit in the easiest way possible.

Key Features You Need to Know for Fitness Tracking

If you plan to use your Apple watch for way more than a pretty accessory on your wrist, you will need to know these features.

When it comes to fitness tracking on your watch, the first thing you would notice is the colorful rings on display. These rings do not simply serve aesthetic purposes as they represent certain key features of fitness tracking. 

These comprise the major display for all activity recorded and tracked by the device. As you complete each goal for the day, the ring fills up and forms its complete circle. If you exceed the goals for the day, the rings will overlap with each other. 

The measurements change over time and with activity, that is to say, that activities that would usually get you to fill the rings would no longer be able to do so after a while. You would need to step up your activities and make more movements. 

The device pushes you to ensure that you do not stay in the same stagnant position for a prolonged period of time. Let us look at these rings one after the other.

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Stand Ring

The blue ring represents the stand ring and for this ring to get filled up, you would need to have stood for at least 1 minute for each hour of twelve hours. You should not just need to stand; it helps to move a little. 

A short stroll down the street or a walk around the house. Basically, any active leg movement would help fill the blue stand ring. The watch sends you alerts time and again if you have not moved in a while.

It is important to note that the hours of standing and movement do not have to be consecutive. So, if you take a nap or spend too long on the couch, you could always make it up with the next few hours. 

The watch just needs to record 1minute in each hour out of twelve hours and the blue ring would be full. If you use a wheelchair, not to worry the stand ring can be adjusted to suit you. By selecting the wheelchair option, the blue stand ring would be transformed into the blue rolling ring.

It would track your movements. You would just need to move for at least 1 minute per hour.

Exercise Ring

The exercise ring is represented by the green ring and it tracks all forms of exercises. To the Apple watch, any form of movement that is equal to a brisk walk. Or any form of activity that increases your heart rate is recorded as exercise. 

To fill the ring, a thirty-minute workout session would get this done. Once the watch detects activities that increase your heart rate to a very significant level, it begins to record them as exercise.

Move Ring

The move ring is represented by the red color and its major aim is to track calories burnt through activities carried out in the course of the day. This particular feature is very essential as it combines motion and heart rate to calculate calories used up by the wearer of the watch over a 24-hour period. 

This feature would require you to set a goal for the day. That is to say, you would have to set the number of calories you wish to burn in the course of the day and if you meet up with the goal, the ring completes itself. 

The best part of the move feature is that you can easily adjust the goal in no time. Here’s how to get it done!

  • Go to the display screen where you see the colored rings
  • Press and hold the screen
  • Tap “change move goal”
  • Adjust your goal by increasing or decreasing the number of calories as displayed on the screen
  • Tap “update”

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Application That Works Well With The Apple Watch

The Activity App

You cannot fully optimize the features of the apple watch without this app, it is an indispensable component of the watch. The app helps you organize everything related to your fitness routine.

It helps check your progress both on your watch and on your iPhone. The activity app monitors all the activities you have carried out and records history dated back to the first day you began to make use of the watch. 

The activity application displays the three rings and gives a thorough breakdown of your activities, goals met, distance went, and calories burnt for each day.

Video: Get To Know The Activity App For Apple Watch

Watch this video to know how to set up the activity application on your Apple Watch.

How to Set Up the Activity Application

You would need to make use of your iPhone for the setting up of the application.

  • If you do not have the Activity App on your iPhone, download and launch the application
  • Tap the option “set up activity”
  • You would see options that allow you to enter your personal information ( it is highly recommended that you only enter correct information as this would help the watch track your progress more effectively)
  • Tap “continue”

After this process, you’re all set up and can then begin to use the activity application on your watch.

Checking Progress on The Activity App

It’s pretty simple to check your progress using the app and you can do this with your watch or with your iPhone.

  • On the iPhone
  • Launch the activity application
  • You would see an icon “history”, tap this

This would allow you to see a detailed breakdown of your activities in the form of a calendar. On each date, you would see the rings surrounding each day with their fullness. This depends on how far you went towards achieving your goal. 

Also, as this is a fitness app, you would see a green dot at the side of the dates (only for the days where you carried out your regular exercise).

A tap on each day would give you a thorough breakdown of the activities of the day including workout duration, total calories burnt and total distance.

On the Watch

  • Open the Activity App
  • A quick swipe would get you to see details of each ring for the day
  • Swipe once again to see information including total steps, total distance, calories burnt and workout
  • To view the weekly summary of your activities, press and hold the screen. A menu of options would come up, tap “weekly summary”.

The Sharing Activity

If you’ve become a bit bored with your regular daily activities, a little competition is all you need to shake things up a bit and get you in that “fitness spirit” once again. Before you can start competitions on your Apple Watch, you would first need to get acquainted with the sharing activity feature.

This allows you to connect with friends; you are also able to share your progress charts with them as well as get notifications of your friends’ progress. The sharing Activity does not require any extra process to get it all set up as it is an icon located in the Activity app. Once you tap it, you can then go from there.

To properly optimize the benefits of the sharing activity, you would first need to add friends (you would only be able to add friends who have the apple watch). Adding or inviting of friends can be carried out using either the apple watch or the iPhone

To Add Friends Using the Watch

  • Launch the activity application
  • Swipe down through options available till you see “invite a friend”
  • To add friends using the iPhone
  • Launch the activity application
  • Scroll and tap the add button
  • Enter your friend’s contact or choose one from your contact list
  • Invite your friend by tapping “send”

To Accept an Invite

  • A notification would appear on your watch and if for some reason you do not get the notification, as soon as you enter the activity application, you would see the invite
  • Once you tap the invite, you would then need to choose whether to accept or ignore the invite.

Competing with Friends

Keeping fit and working out is fun. It’s even more fun when you’re competing against your friends to achieve a goal. This is the perfect way to energize us for even more tasking fitness exercises.

The competition feature is quite helpful, and it allows you to invite your friends for a seven-day challenge. 

The user with the highest points wins and you gain points by filling your activity rings. A point is attained for every percent added to your rings for each day. If you are really determined, you can earn up to 600 points in a single day.

You would also be well on your way to winning the contest if you keep it up. When you win, you get an award.


Everyone deserves a pat on that back once in a while and the awards feature on the watch does just that. It gives awards for several tasks completed. The award menu is seen in the activity application.

It shows awards already received are presented in their original form and when you tap them, you get to see the information on the awards and the date you received them. Attaining awards is not particularly hard as there are some awards that are particularly easy to attain while some are not.

Monthly Challenges

A new challenge is drafted out each month based on your activities of the past month. It is an effective way to get the user to surpass their own expectations. 

Limited Edition Challenges

Just like the name implies, these challenges only occur during special times of the year. They include:

  1. International women’s day challenge which requires you to complete an activity in the distance of a mile on the international women’s day.
  2. Earth day challenge: This would require the user to complete a thirty-minute workout session on Earth day.

Close Your Ring Challenge

This challenge involves awards given for several activities that comprise the completion of the rings such as the award for a new move record.

Workouts Award

These are awarded when you set a new calorie goal for your workout regime and meet the goals. Also, when the user adds a new workout, they also get an award.

To be able to compete with friends on the apple watch, you would need to invite them for a challenge. Challenging your friends can be done either on the apple watch or on the iPhone.

On the watch

  • Launch the activity application on the watch
  • Swipe to the sharing screen
  • Tap the friend you would like to compete with
  • Tap the “compete” option
  • Tap “invite”

On the iPhone.

  • Launch the activity application
  • Tap the Sharing tab
  • Select the friend you wish to compete with from your list of friends
  • Tap “compete”
  • Tap “invite”

While you compete, you might want to check out your friend’s progress and this is how to do it.

  • Launch the activity application on the watch
  • Swipe to the sharing screen
  • Select the friend whose progress you would like to check
  • Scroll down and you would see their progress.

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The Workout Application

The app tracks your workouts session, calories burnt, and the distance traveled while exercising as well. Data attained from your workout sessions is directly synced into your iPhone’s health app. The apple watch is designed with properties like the built-in altimeter and built-in GPS.

These work as motion sensors to help monitor the activities carried out by the user. You are able to add a variety of workout types on the app. Here’s how to do so.

  • Tap the workout application on the screen. 
  • Scroll down till you see the option “add workout”.
  • Select the desired workout.
  • If you are unable to find the desired workout, simply tap “others”.

Calibrating Your Apple Watch

Calibrating your watch is just like designing an outfit just for you. This is highly important as it helps your watch get accustomed to your movements, learn the length of your strides, learn your fitness level. 

It also improves its calorie measurements, you would find this particularly useful when GPS is unavailable to help track your movements. Calibrating your watch is done easily with your iPhone.

  • Open the Settings application on your iPhone
  • Scroll down to the “privacy” option
  • Tap location, turn it on
  • Scroll down to system settings, ensure that the motion calibration distance is turned on
  • To calibrate your watch, you would need to perform at least 20minutes of activity tracked by the watch.
  • Go outside to an area where you can get a clear view of the skies, this is important as it would allow the watch to view the GPS satellites.
  • Tap the workout app and pick an activity between outdoor walk and outdoor run
  • Depending on the chosen activity, walk or run for the designated time
  • When you’re through with the activity, swipe the screen and tap the “end” option
  • Your Apple Watch is now calibrated and anytime you perform an activity, the watch begins to understand your body movements and how to measure them accurately.


If you use Apple watch from the 1st series or earlier, you will need to come along with your iPhone. This is to help calibrate your watch as the watch does not have a built-in GPS. Also, if you have more than enough time on your hands, it helps to work out at different speeds for 20 minutes while calibrating your watch. 

This would help the watch learn your distance stride and calories measurements even faster.

Types of Workouts 


For the cycling exercise, you would need to select an option between indoor and outdoor cycling. From the apple watches in series two and further, they have built-in GPS that would help you track certain metrics. 

If your watch is in the series 1 category, you would just need it to bring your iPhone with you as you cycle. While cycling, the watch monitors the following:

Speed and Distance

The watch uses GPS to monitor distance traveled by the user, to save battery on the watch, you could bring your iPhone along as it has inbuilt GPS.


The apple watch series 3 has a built-in altimeter that helps detect elevations by the user. If your watch is among the earlier series, you simply need to bring your iPhone along with you as you cycle.


The options available for the swimming workout are the pool swim or open water swim. You would have to choose one before you can properly start the workout. 

Once you set the parameters, the screen would automatically turn off to prevent water droplets from tapping the screen accidentally.

Pool Swim

The pool swim feature requires you to first set the pool length on the watch before you begin the workout. This helps the watch measure laps and total distance traveled during the exercise using the built-in accelerometer. 

Your calories would also be measured as well. GPS isn’t active in the pool swim and your heart rate would not be measured as the water can prevent heart rate measurement.

Open water swim

The open water swim feature allows GPS for freestyle strokes, it also tracks calories during the workout using its built-in accelerometer.


The options available for this workout are the outdoor wheelchair walk pace and outdoor wheelchair run pace. You would need to choose based on the Activity you want to perform. 

The watch series 2 and further series have built-in GPS that is able to track outdoor wheelchair workouts. If you are making use of an apple watch from the earlier series, you would have to bring your iPhone along to help measure distance and pace. Heart rate and calories would also be measured.

If you do not see the wheelchair in your workout options, you would need to update your information:

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap health.
  3. Tap the edit option.
  4. You would see the option for the wheelchair.
  5. Tap yes.
  6. Tap done.


Indoor walking and outdoor walking options are available. Choose the indoor walking when walking on a treadmill or taking a short walk around the house. The outdoor option is for long walks, taking a stroll down the street, and any walking activity performed outside.

Pace and Distance

For the watch series 2 and further series, the built-in GPS helps to track distance walked and the data would be synced to your iPhone to provide a detailed map of your walking distance and summary. 

For users of the series 1 apple watch, you would need to bring your iPhone as these series do not have built-in GPS. 

The apple watch series 2 and further series have built-in GPS that helps keep track of your activity. It syncs the data to your iPhone to give a detailed breakdown and summary of your total workout. 

Users of the earlier watch series would have to bring their iPhone along with them as the earlier series do not have built-in GPS. Also, users of the apple watch series 2 and further series can still bring their iPhone along with them as it would help save battery on the watch when in use.


From the third series upwards, the built-in altimeter feature is available to track the elevation metric. For earlier series, you would be required to bring your iPhone to help track this metric.

The apple series 3 watch and upwards are designed with an in-built altimeter that tracks the elevation metric. For earlier series, your iPhone would help measure this metric.


The indoor run option is available for running on a treadmill or any indoor running activity while the outdoor running is for running activities performed outdoors.


The hiking workout option helps track distance, calories burned as well as elevation and distance climbed. The built-in altimeter in the third series and further series helps track elevation and distance climbed. For the earlier series, the iPhone would help track this metric.

High-intensity interval training

This workout option helps monitor periods of intensive workout followed by a shorter period of rest. Due to the fact that the intensity of the workout causes irregularities in heart rate, the watch might not be able to accurately measure your heart rate. 

Notwithstanding, your calories would still be measured. If you want to get consistent heart rate measurement during the workout, connect your watch to a Bluetooth chest strap.


This workout option can be used for basically all types of yoga practices. It measures heart rate and calories as you perform them.


Designed for use with any kind of rower machine.


This workout option is designed for use with elliptical and other machines that share similarities with an elliptical.

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Other Interesting Features

Automatic Work Out Detection

If you start your workout and forget to set up tracking. It’s not a problem at all as the watch detects brisk activity. An increase in heart rate and asks if you are ready to start to work out to enable it to begin tracking. 

When you stop your workout, the watch would detect it and automatically stop the tracking.

Fall Detection

The apple watch series 4 has this feature. When the user falls, the watch detects it and sounds an alarm to ask the user if they are fine. 

If no reply is given and no move is detected by the watch, it would begin a count down. After this, it will call emergency services or send a message asking for help from your emergency contacts.

Breathe Application

The apple watch has an application that reminds you to take out time to focus on your breathing and to relax. An animation pops up and guides you to focus on your breathing through a series of deep breaths. You slowly inhale, hold your breath for a few seconds and slowly exhale.


Reminders are very helpful when it comes to fitness and general wellness as they keep you on track with alarms to help you remember when it’s time for a particular activity or if you are lagging behind on your daily goals.

To set up a reminder, follow these steps:

  • Open the apple watch application on your iPhone
  • Tap “my watch”
  • Tap “activity”
  • Set reminder.


The apple watch has so many features that can be easily optimized. But we find that it’s fitness tracking features are one of the most important features of the watch. 

It’s a very convenient way to keep fit and stay healthy at the same time. While this device cannot replace the role of a licensed doctor, it would keep you in optimal shape and general wellness so much so that you wouldn’t need to see your doctor as much. 

It pushes you way beyond your limits and gives you ample time to relax. With a little bit of luck, the device would even make you happy. Remember, happiness is the highest form of health!

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