Apple Watch Workout: A Digital Exercise Diary

Key Points

  • The Apple Watch offers several workout types you can track including running, cycling, hiking, and swimming.

  • Getting an Apple Fitness subscription provides guided Apple Watch workouts.

  • The Apple Watch workout app tracks and records heart rate, exercise type, movement, time spent exercising, and segments.

Tracking calories, sleep, heart rate, and workouts is tedious. This information is essential for making decisions regarding your health, but it isn't easy to record and organize. Luckily, the Apple Watch workout app records and manages your data.

To continuously improve your fitness levels, you must exercise hard and regularly. It's difficult to progressively challenge yourself when you don't know how or when to increase intensity. Using the Apple Watch workout app helps keep track of your fitness journey.

Apple Watch

Technology constantly becomes more powerful, smaller, and even wearable. Making a phone call from your wrist is all too easy with the Apple Watch. From Series 1 to Series 8, the Apple Watch keeps improving.

The Apple Watch is a revolutionary invention that has changed the world. Send a text, calculate the tip for your dinner bill, set an alarm, or create an event all from your wrist.

One of the best features of this wearable delight is the workout tracker. Apple Watch uses several measurements to track and record your workouts, exercise, and movement. These measurements include steps, heart rate, motion, and exercise type.

Readying for a sprint with Apple Watch

Workout Types

The Apple Watch records various types of exercise. When you begin a workout, you choose from a long list of activities before you start.

Choosing an exercise type allows your Apple Watch to track calories and movement more accurately. Apple uses your heart rate and movement with knowledge of the workout type to calculate calories burned.

Apple Watch workout types include:

  • Cycling

  • Walk

  • Run

  • Rower

  • Function strength training

  • Dance

  • Cooldown

  • Core Training

  • Elliptical

  • Stair stepper

  • HIIT

  • Hiking

  • Yoga

  • Tai Chi

  • Wheelchair

  • Multisport

  • Pilates

  • Swimming

There is also an "Other" option to input your workout type. For example, you may name a workout "Hills" if you train on hilly terrain for endurance.

Elliptical workout with fitness watch

Exercise Ring

The Apple Watch measures exercise by the minute and uses a ring to show your progress. There are two options for how the Apple Watch counts exercise.

The app has a feature that makes your watch count one full minute of activity as one minute of exercise. The second option is only to count exercise minutes after you've started a workout on the app.

An ideal exercise goal is 30 minutes a day. For each minute of exercise, the watch adds a little portion to the progress ring. The closer you get to your goal, the closer the ring is to closing. Once you've reached your objective, the ring connects, and you get a congratulatory message.

Starting a Workout

Starting a workout on the Apple Watch is a lot easier than starting the actual workout. To begin a workout, go to the workout app on your watch.

The workout app is a circle with a running stick character inside. After you click the app, scroll through the types of exercises and find the one that fits best.

To set a goal, press the "More" button — the circle with three dots inside. Set goals based on calories or time. Once you select an exercise type, wait three seconds for it to countdown and begin.

Siri also starts a workout if you hold down the Digital Crown for a few seconds until the ring pops up. If you have voice command enabled, ask Siri to start a workout.

Customizing a Workout

You've got your workout equipment, but don't see a workout that aligns with what you're doing. Thankfully, you can customize a workout with Apple Watch. Choose exercise types and intervals, then save and name your workout for future use.

Open the workout app and tap the circle with three horizontal dots inside. Click the type of exercise you want or create your own. Next, press "Create Workout," then "Custom."

Press "Warm up," then choose a goal type. Select to add the objective, then choose "Work" or "Recovery" for your next workout phase. Set your goal type, then repeat the steps for "Cooldown."

After choosing a goal for your cooldown, name and save the workout. You may return to this custom exercise whenever you want a structured workout without putting the selections in again.

Checking fitness watch while stretching

Changing the Metrics of a Workout

You can view several metrics while using your Apple Watch during exercise. Select the more option and the activity you want in the workout app on your watch.

Edit the exercise, and when you're setting the goal, tap "Workout Views" followed by "Edit Views." The metrics vary based on the exercise type. Choose from metrics including:

  • Power

  • Splits

  • Pace

  • Distance

  • Duration

  • Vertical oscillation

  • Ground contact time

  • Heart Rate

  • Segments

  • Elevation

  • Cadence

  • Running stride length

Use the "Reorder" option, then tap and hold to change the order.

Marking Segments

Mark your workout into segments using the Apple Watch. This feature is particularly beneficial for runners who want to mark the times of their laps or cyclists who want to track each mile.

While working out, double-tap your screen and wait for the segment summary to appear, or open the Fitness app on your phone to see your segments after a workout. Click "Show More," select the workout, and scroll down to find the details.

You can't use your screen when your watch is in water lock mode. If you're a swimmer, when you rest on the side of the pool for 10 seconds, the workout app counts it as a new segment.

Tying shoe with Apple Watch

Checking Your Stats

Are you curious about how you're doing during your exercise? Look at your watch and find your heart rate, calories burned, and time spent exercising.

Waking your watch during a workout also shows your activity rings, splits, elevation, segments, running power, and heart rate zones.

Seeing your elevation is beneficial if you exercise at high altitudes or on rapidly changing terrain. Many people like to check their heart rate zones while exercising because some training styles require you to operate in specific zones.

Swipe Right

If you want to change the type of workout you're doing without ending your current session, swipe right while exercising. When you swipe right, four small options come up: add, pause, end, and water lock.

The add option is a plus sign, allowing you to switch workout types while exercising. The pause and end options enable you to pause or finish the exercise.

The water lock button is a water drop. When you press this option, the Apple Watch prepares for water mode. Use water lock mode when your watch is at risk of getting wet.

Water Lock Workouts

Putting your watch in water mode keeps it safe from damage and accidentally tapping options on the screen. Using water mode is beneficial for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, fishing, and even running through the sprinkles at the park.

When you activate water mode, you disable the touchscreen and wake-up gestures. Disabling the touchscreen prevents your watch from responding to contact with the water.

Disabling the water lock mode expels any water trapped in the watch's crevices. You must spin the digital crown until the watch vibrates and makes a beeping noise; the movement and noise eliminate any water inside.

Guided Workouts

If you're tired of the guesswork involved with your workouts, Apple offers a fitness subscription with many guided workout classes. These classes include expert fitness instructors and education on how to exercise correctly.

The fitness subscription offers many classes, such as yoga, cycling, running, and HIIT. Pause, rewind, or rewatch at any point. You're also able to save your favorite workouts for later.

Manually Adding a Workout

Chances are you don't always remember to wear or charge your watch, but that doesn't mean your workout doesn't count toward your goals. You can go to the Apple Watch workout app on your phone and add the missed exercise manually.

Add the type of workout, time spent exercising, and calories burned. If you're unsure how many calories you burned, try to find a similar workout in your workout history. Find the calories you've burned in that workout and use them for your manual workout input.

Checking Apple Watch after run

Helpful Reminders

Apple Watch sends workout reminders when you haven't moved enough or logged your exercise yet — as if your inner critic isn't enough. If you've physically begun exercising but haven't started the workout on your watch, it sends reminders to start the app. The device also sends reminders to end your activity if it determines you haven't been exercising for a few minutes.

Apple Watch also delivers daily notifications to help you reach your move, stand, and exercise goals. You can change how the Apple Watch sends reminders and notifications in the Fitness app on your phone.


Technology is just as confusing as it is beneficial. If you're confused about your watch, you're not alone. Here are some common questions from users regarding the Apple Watch.

Can You Shower With an Apple Watch?

You may use water lock mode to shower, but be careful since the oils from body washes and lotions might affect the watch's performance. Extremely hot or rough water pressure may also leave you shopping for another watch.

How Do You See Previous Workouts?

Use the Fitness app on your iPhone to see information from previous workouts. Find specific details about each workout, or use the calendar for a bigger picture of the days you've trained that month.

Keep your watch up to date and connected to your phone via Bluetooth to keep your information safe and recorded. Keeping up with your exercise information helps you progress and ultimately lose weight.

How Does Apple Watch Count Exercise?

It's weird to think about how a small, wearable device conveys such in-depth information. It all comes down to what's inside the watch.

Apple Watch uses an internal accelerometer to determine how fast you're moving. It also focuses on arm motion, heart rate sensors, and GPS. It uses the information you've added in the app to calculate calories burned, such as age, body weight, and body mass index.

Can You Set a Step Goal on Apple Watch?

You can't set a specific step goal on the Apple Watch, but you can change the move goal. The move goal is the number of calories you want to burn daily; the standard goal is 500 calories.

What Is a Reasonable Exercise Goal for the Apple Watch?

Personalize your exercise goals for the best outcome. Some people benefit from 10 minutes daily, while others may need more than an hour of activity.

Starting workout on Apple Watch

Personal trainer Minkee Kim emphasizes that "a personalized training plan takes into account your unique needs and abilities. Everyone's body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another."

Aim for 30 minutes of daily exercise four to five times a week. On your rest days, 10 minutes of exercise or activity is enough to keep you moving in the right direction.

A Digital Diary

One of the best aspects of the Apple Watch workout feature is that you can take it anywhere. Whether you're going to the gym or hitting the park with friends, the Apple Watch tracks your movement and records it for you.

Determine your exercise goals and let the Apple Watch workout app get you there. Need help deciding on an objective? Subscribe to Fit&Fab for important information on setting exercise goals.

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