From analyzing your sleep patterns to checking in on the stability of an aging parent, your iPhone’s health app can be a valuable way to track and share important health information. Apple’s highly customizable app lets you choose which health categories are most important to you and, in some cases, prompts you to choose multiple lifestyle options.
Here’s a closer look at how to use some of the health app’s best features.
Tap on your health checklist
Before we delve into the health app categories, click on your profile in the top right corner and then tap on “health checklist”. In this checklist, you can set up a variety of health features, one of which is your Medical ID. Here, you can list any medical conditions you have, allergies, and medications along with an emergency contact. When you use Emergency SOS (which you can enable by pressing the Side Button and Volume Button simultaneously), your iPhone automatically contacts 911 and a message with your current location goes to your emergency contact without having to unlock your phone. Emergency services can access any critical information within your medical ID, such as drug allergies.
Set sleep focus
In the sleep category, you can record your ideal amount of sleep per night and set a bedtime and wake-up time by activating “sleep schedule”, which automatically turns on an alarm and reminds you to get ready for bed. You can also change it by day and turn it off during the weekend, or separate Tuesday and Thursday from the rest of the week, for example.
Once you record your optimal sleep schedule, you’ll be prompted to set a “chill time” that will temporarily disable certain features on your phone and ensure you get rid of distractions. I decided to set up a 30-minute wind down window where I have direct access to just the Calm app, so I can listen to music before bed, and the Notes app, if I’m trying to remember something for the morning.
Share your health records
Under your profile, you can choose to add health records and appointment data. You can add any health records you have so it’s all in one place, which is crucial for specialists looking to see the big picture. In the sharing tab of the health app, you can also share any of your health data with another person. This is especially helpful for caregivers. You can ask your dad to give you permission to access the specific data you want to share, for example, and you’ll be able to check your exercise minutes, sleep duration, or mobility.
Monitor the stability of an elderly person
Even with your phone in your pocket, this walking balance feature can monitor your balance and detect the risk of falling in the next 12 months.
This feature is useful for caregivers. You can ask an older parent to share this information from their health app and they will be notified if they are at risk of falling or if their stability is declining.
If you scroll through the category, you’ll see exercise suggestions to help improve mobility and stability when walking.
Get notifications if you’re playing too loud with the music
Your health app also lets you control headphone audio levels. Go to headphone audio levels and enable notifications, to get an alert if you’re hearing the audio too loud. You can also see if your noise exposure is close to the recommended limit of 7 days under ambient noise levels.
Repeated exposure to loud noise can cause hearing damage and loss.
Use a third-party app to track mindfulness practices
Many other apps combine with Apple’s Health app to keep your health and wellness information in one area. Your heart rate is recorded. You can also pair your phone with Calm, Headspace, and other mindfulness apps by going into the app’s settings and pairing it with Apple’s health app. All your progress will be tracked in one place. If you have the Apple Watch, you can use Mindfulness Minutes without taking out your phone and you’ll be prompted to breathe or reflect for one minute.
Control your heart rate
For Apple Watch users, in the heart rate category, you can monitor your resting heart rate and also turn on notifications when an irregularly high or irregularly low heart rate is detected. You can also share the data with your doctor.
In the same section, you can also view your cardiovascular fitness, measured by your VO2 max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body consumes during exercise. You can see your number compared to your average VO2 max.
If you go back to your “health checklist”, you can set up your ECG app, which will take an EKG with your watch. You can open this graph and also share it with a doctor.
Other features of the health app include activity, where you can track your exercise minutes, walking minutes and distances, bike tracking, and even a place to track your symptoms on a given day.