Get the Most From Your Apple Watch Exercise Goal

Apple Watch is popular for having three simple rings that align to daily goals. The green ring is the “Exercise” ring and aligns to total minutes of exercise completed while wearing the watch.

There are two main ways to accumulate exercise minutes on the watch. The first is by simply moving at a “brisk” pace along with a slightly elevated heart rate. For many people even a short walk to and from the car to a store, walking the dog, or heading out the door has the potential to capture a few minutes.

The other way to gather exercise minutes is to track specific workouts. If your standard stroll in the park is not gaining exercise minutes (either you are not walking fast enough of your heart rate is not high enough) activated a walk activity will help ensure those minutes count. Of course other exercises, including the popular ones we have reviewed here before like weight training, paddling boarding, and running with your watch will also go towards the green exercise ring.

An exercise goal is distinct from the “Move” goal, which is a monitor of the calories burned during the day. Interestingly Apple does not distinguish types of exercise, beyond the comments already outlined. So any type of exercise, even moderate, will count toward the goal. That is different from other measurement, like the Google Fit Heart points, which will count intense exercise 2x as important as low level exercise minutes.

What Should Your Exercise Ring Goal Be?

Before setting an exercise goal it is important to remember that everyone will have individual differences. The point of setting a goal should be to encourage the types of actions you are seeking, which can be very personal. Some people respond to being just shy of their goal at the end of the day by going for a quick walk. Others may look at a large goal in the morning and write it off as unachievable and ignore it.

There are official sources for what is recommended though, including the America Heart Association. The AHA guidelines on activity are for a total of 150 minutes weekly of moderate exercise, which breaks down to an average of 21 minutes per day. Knowing that some days will be better than others though, we always suggest setting a slightly higher target. Because round numbers are nice, an American Heart Association based goal aligns to an Apple Watch exercise goal of 30 minutes

Of course if you are aiming to over achieve you can alter this goal on a regular basis. For anyone who likes to maintain a streak of closing rings, you can even alter the goal on a day to day basis. This makes it possible to getup every day and set a custom goal based on what activity you are doing. If you know that you will be sitting on a car ride, airplane, or at a desk all day then making the goal to even achieve 15 minutes of exercise may be enough. On the other hand we often find that we want to target a larger goal on weekend days where we are typically much more active.

Changing an Apple rings goal daily will not impact an on-going streak. So long as by the end of the day you have completed the ring you will get credit for it, in terms of maintaining a streak. So the easiest way to keep a streak going is to alter the goal at night before removing the watch, so that however much activity you have done achieves the goal!

How Often Should You Close Your Apple Watch Exercise Goal

After sometime of having a default goal, of say 30 minutes, it is also worth updating it to align to your life. If you find that everyday it is easy to achieve the goal that’s great. But if you are achieving the goal on the watch but it does not align to your end goals (weight loss, improved cardio fitness, improved sleep) it is worth adjusting.

apple watch exercise goal trend chart

Generally speaking we tend to think that Apple Watch rings goals are best if you do NOT always attain them. More often than not they should be achievable, but general variation of lifestyle will account for some days falling shy of the goal.

Within the Exercise app there is a screen that shows your total trend of closing rings over the past 90 days. Targeting between 5-6 days of achievement per week will result in 71%-85% completion of an exercise ring. For those that are doing more intense training this ensures that there is at least one rest day included in a week to let your body recuperate.

The exercise goal also does not pop-up as often for automatically being changed. More often than not the Apple move goal is the one that will suggest an update if you are routinely over or under achieving.

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