Apple Watch and Impossible Monthly Challenges

For wearers of Apple Watch the beginning of the month brings a special moment of excitement. What is this months challenge?

The Apple Watch monthly challenges offer a range of benefits. Firstly, they provide an incentive to stay active and motivated. Many of the challenges are designed to encourage users to get out and get moving, whether it be by walking, running, swimming, or other activities. Completing challenges can help Apple Watch users to form healthy habits. By participating in monthly challenges, users can start to form lasting, beneficial behavioral changes and grab a couple of fun digital badges along the way.

Another benefit of the Apple Watch monthly challenges is the social aspect. By participating, users can connect with their friends and family, share progress, and provide each other with support. Additionally, users can join together to compete with each other in a friendly way. All of these features help to make the Apple Watch monthly challenges a great way to stay active and motivated, and to connect with your friends and family.

This article covers the details of various monthly challenges. What can you do to make them achievable, what types of challenges are there, and why are some Apple Watch monthly challenges so hard.

What Are Apple Watch Monthly Challenges?

Apple health and Apple Watch create digital badges and challenges for every calendar month. Each month, on the first, the monthly awards update. They are personalized challenges, so predicting them is not worth the effort. Getting a good challenge is a thrill. But some challenges are a dud, and others are downright impossible!

There are a dozen individual month badges that you can earn each year, but they do tend to follow a similar structure. Even with the similar structure there are minor nuances to how the challenges can be setup. For example here are real challenges that are have strong similarities without them being identical:

“Earn this award by going at least 3.6 miles a day 14 times”
“Earn this award by going 108 miles”

In the first challenge above you can achieve it by doing only 50.4 miles of walking, or 14 days of EXACTLY 3.6 miles and 16 days of no distance. The other option (108 total) works out to being an AVERAGE of 3.6 miles for 30 total days. Of course this one could be done as a single day of 108 miles and 29 days of nothing, but the same 14 days of 3.6 miles each will get you less than halfway to the goal.

Here are a few other challenge structures that we have seen:

  • Earn 2,000 total Exercise minutes
  • Burn 20,000 total calories in a month
  • Go at least 200 total miles in a month
  • Go at least 5 miles a day 20 times this month
  • Do 20 workouts in a month (a workout must be at least 15 minutes)
  • Reach your daily exercise goal 30 times
  • Reach your daily stand goal 30 times
  • Reach your daily Move goal 30 times
  • Close all three activity rings 30 times
  • Do 4 walking workouts in a month

You do not get to pick what your goal is for the month. Apple creates them for each individual and assigns them to you on the first of the month. Two people in the same household could have not only different values on their goals, but also different goal structures (ie. one goal of exercise minutes and one related to miles walked).

Each of these goals can vary from month to month and may repeat for an individual. We have personally seen multiple months with identical challenge structures, but the values themselves can vary widely depending on how active you have been in the past.

apple watch monthly challenges change

Take for example the above image. In one (Dec 2019) the lead up to it included minimal workouts and low exercise minutes so the goal was only 1164 minutes of exercise. A year and a half later, following a few months of lots of exercise, that same goal structure appear but with nearly DOUBLE the goal to now 2049 total exercise minutes.

Why Are My Monthly Challenges So Hard?

Each month the Apple Watch uses a hidden algorithm to predict what is really a “challenge” for you before setting a goal. While the exact system is not published, anecdotally it is clear that the watch looks at the past few months of activity in order to develop a new plan. If you have had a huge amount of activity in the 3-6 months prior, then things will get harder.

For users who close all of their rings, and have a streak going for 180 days or more, this can lead to some very difficult challenges. The classic “close all your rings X time” suddenly becomes closing them every single day. Even if you have recently changed your daily goals to make closing the rings harder, it does not seem like the system takes this into account.

Others have noticed that distance and calorie goals will continue to grow, and there doesn’t seem to be a feasible gut check in place. That means if you made a mistake and kept tracking an a daily walk last month while you hopped in the car and drove 300 miles, it may impact a “Walk X total miles” goal or even a “Burn X total calories” goal since that drive will be marked as having burned tens of thousands of calories.

To make the challenges more achievable you can do a few things.

  1. Remove any errors in your workout data over the last few months
  2. Stop doing so much activity
  3. Change your daily goals (if you change your target goal mid month, and keep closing rings at the new goal, it will still count toward the monthly goal).

The Hardest Apple Watch Monthly Challenges

There is a difference of opinion on what the hardest challenges are, but generally folks agree that all of the hardest ones are based off consistent efforts. Even a “400% Your Daily Exercise” goal is achievable on a single great day, but the sustained efforts that request you to be burning an AVERAGE of 4000 exercise calories a day are way harder. For someone coming off of marathon training or Ironman training, their goals on the watch may very well not align to their other training goals to recover or reduce training loads.

Watch goals do not happen to take into account anything that looks like a rest day. If you find that the challenge presented is too hard, remember that there is no real reward to achieving it. The digital badges are not worth anything, and quite frankly are not even yours! You do not get an NFT for the badge, money, or anything else. If you just want the image, you can download it off the internet.

apple watch perfect monthly challenge

For our money though the hardest individual challenge is actually one that you can get every month. That is the 3 rings closed for every day of the month. This requires not only dedication to staying active, but also to maintaining a good charge on your watch every single day. After 3 years of wearing an Apple Watch, we finally got this badge and the pretty monthly calendar display. The picture is worth the dopamine hit it provides, and nothing more.

So You Want To Change Your Monthly Challenge On Apple Watch…

Think that the challenges are impossible, or just no fun, and want to change them. Sadly there is no way to edit what your Apple Watch monthly challenge is.

Instead of changing the pre-canned challenge, you do have other options. First is you can set a personal challenge, one that does not include a digital badge. This is a good option for removing the dependence on the system to deliver goals.

Second, choose a personal goal that is related to another badge you don’t have. This could be extending an existing stand steak, shooting for a “Perfect Week” badge, or a trying for the coveted “Perfect Month” badge. At the end of the day, there is no objective benefit to having every monthly challenge complete. Do what works for you!

Finally, depending on the challenge you can change the underlying metrics. If you have a “Reach Your Daily Exercise Goal” challenge, then you can change your daily exercise goal. Similarly for Stand Hours goals, change your daily goal to 6 hours and suddenly completing your daily goal may become so easy that doing so 30 times is more achievable.

Special Edition Apple Watch Badges

Watch badges come in more versions than just the monthly challenges. There are also options for daily streaks of closing each ring, as well as closing all rings streaks. Beyond that there are individual challenges like setting a new personal best in distance or time for a popular activity (like a 5k).

apple special edition badge screen

The hardest to achieve badges though are sometimes the special edition ones. Many of these are not published far in advance, so it can be accidental that you earn one. Missing them is also difficult for something like the Labor Day badge that seems to pop up. Although earning the badge is not hard, sometimes the difficulty is in knowing the badge even exists.

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