4 things I use the Apple Health app for everyday and you should, too

Key Takeaways

  • The Apple Health app on my iPhone tracks my steps like a pedometer, helping me stay active and form healthy routines. It even compares my current habits to the past, motivating me to improve.
  • The “Headphone Audio Levels” setting in the Health app warns me about potential hearing damage from listening to music too loud. I use it as a benchmark to protect my ears while enjoying my favorite podcasts.
  • Setting a bedtime schedule on my phone helps me avoid the temptation of late-night scrolling and ensures quality sleep. It automatically activates “do not disturb” mode, making me more intentional about phone usage before bed.
  • The Health app’s medication feature has simplified my medication management. I can set reminders and easily access medication details for emergencies or doctor’s visits. It’s a powerful tool for staying organized and informed about my health.
  • Overall, the Apple Health app is a powerful tool that goes beyond tracking, promoting healthy habits and even supporting mental health.

Admittedly, I’m a horrible Apple Watch owner. When I actually remember to place my 44mm Series 8 on its charger, I can’t seem to forget how the signature squircle design sits a bit too bulkily on my smaller wrist. And no matter how much faster, longer lasting, or powerful the Series 9 may be, I doubt the upgrades are enough to break my habits.

Far from a runner or athlete, I use my watch for three primary reasons: checking the time, tracking my steps as I walk around New York City, and (attempting) to stick to a sleep schedule. After ditching my watch, I realized I didn’t have to give up my top tracking rituals as my Apple Health app has the same features, plus a few helpful surprises.

To find any of these functions, simply select the “browse” tab of the health app.

Four game-changing Apple Health app features

Step tracker chart in Apple health app

1. A pedometer to track your steps

Even if it’s stashed away in your work tote or backpack, if you’ve been there, your phone has too. And as a New York transplant eager to get everywhere on foot, I average about 9,000 steps a day, and I always want to up my benchmark every month.

My iPhone practically functions as a wearable pedometer by heading to the Health app. Aside from showing daily stats, the app also displays overall trends – showing if your steps are lower are higher than at that time from the day before. Essentially, it tells me when I’ve been lazy. Joking aside, the feature succeeds by displaying current habits and comparing them to old ones so that I have the power to form new, sustainable routines. To access these insights, simply go to your health app and select “steps.”

Headphone levels in Apple Health app 2. Check headphone levels

While on-demand audio streaming via wireless headphones is entertaining and convenient, listening to audio at high levels is potentially damaging. I’ve been a fan of earbuds since the days of the iPod – always listening to music at volumes that “accidentally” block out my parents, friends, and co-workers. For those times I want to (or should) be in-tune with both my music and my surroundings, features like transparent mode as opposed to active noise cancellation is great, but I often just turn up the volume even louder.

It may be a quick solution to getting rid of noise, but I know now that exposing my ear drums to consistent trauma will eventually lead to my angry parents’ warning that I will, in fact, damage my hearing someday.

So that I don’t let this warning fall on deaf ears (sorry, not sorry), I check the “Headphone Audio Levels” setting in the Health app to make sure my listening levels are OK. There’s even a chart that breaks down how much exposure (in dB) it takes to be at risk for permanent damage. I use this as a benchmark to make sure I’m within my parameters as I blast my podcast to block out the screeching of the New York subway rails.

Bedtime schedule in Apple Health app

3. Create a bedtime schedule

Emitting blue light – which has been shown to disrupt circadian rhythms and therefore sleep – phones are best put away before bed. While simple in theory, the quick “I’ll check Instagram” turns into an hour in bed wondering how you suddenly landed on your aunt’s friend’s daughter’s college roommate photos from their Caribbean vacation.

To combat doom scrolling, I set up a “bedtime” schedule in which my phone automatically kicks into “do not disturb” mode from 11:00pm to 6:55am. That way, I’m more intentional about unlocking and using my phone and not sucked in to checking Instagram for the millionth time after simply taking the two seconds to respond to the text catalyst.

Medication reminder in Apple Health app

4. Add medications and reminders

Over the past year, I’ve had to start taking different medications – each at specific times. Initially, I set a reminder on my iPhone, but found it disrupting and often forgot what exactly I had set a reminder for. This Health app feature immensely streamlined the process.

With the ability to add consistency and strength (in mg, g, mL, or percentage), this tool in addition to the medical ID feature, is also great for aiding in an emergency when paramedics or doctors quickly need access to medical history and medications. Plus, it helps when I need to recall medication specifics during my annual doctor’s visits.

Overall, the Apple Health app in iPhone is what I believe to be an underestimated powerhouse that not only tracks, but instills, healthy habits. And apart from physical health benefits, an iOS 17 update also lends itself to improved mental health practices, allowing users to log moods via a questionnaire – almost like a virtual journal. If that’s not enough to convince you to explore the Health app, I don’t know what is!

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