That Health feature Apple unleashed on every iPhone that uses iOS 8 is an odd and confusing beast that doesn’t appear to do much on its own — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly useful.
Its true value shines when synced up with other health and fitness apps, creating one well-being super-app. Through its underlying HealthKit software, you can get an overall health profile that shares data across apps. So your workout recommendation app can refer to info on your weight, sleep patterns, and blood pressure to give the best results, or your meditation app can check your stress levels and adjust its settings accordingly.
The entries below prove that Health is anything but worthless. If you want to explore more, just search in the App Store for apps compatible with the Health app, wait for them to ask permission to sync with it, then open Health and select the “Sources” tab to determine how they send and receive information. Different apps may have different settings, so play around to make sure you’re getting everything you can out of them.
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Sleep Cycle: $0.99
Sleep Cycle is already a popular app that monitors when you get to sleep and determines when to best wake you up, so that you’re as refreshed as possible in the morning. When synced with Health, it’s even better, submitting data on your sleep schedule and heart rate to the app while referring to data on your fitness in order to give you the best sleeping experience yet.
Count Calories Like a Pro
An app that recommends exercises and helps you burn calories is helpful. When that same app has access to info on how many calories you take in each day, it’s truly personalized. By adding data from the Lifesum app, you can use the Health app to keep a close eye on how much you’ve been eating. When lined up with all the info from other apps, Lifesum can help you determine what dietary and lifestyle changes, if any, you should make.
Get Meditation Recommendations Based on Your Stress Levels
By syncing the Omvana meditation app, you can track your stress levels and get recommendations for guided meditations best suited to your needs. Omvana refers to your Health app data — heart rate, blood pressure, etc. — to give you a heads up when it’s time to chill.
Monitor Your Blood Sugar
Diabetes Kit: Free
Diabetes Kit, used with the Health app, has access to info on a user’s weight, diet, blood pressure, and many other measurements, helping to create quality recommendations to manage blood sugar levels. For a diabetic, understanding how these factors impact blood sugar levels could go a long way toward improving quality of life.
Tech-savvy folks looking to add to their families already knew about the Glow app, which helps women track their fertility. When added to the Health app, Glow can use info on your sleep and exercise to deliver (no pun intended) superior results, helping you figure out the perfect time to make that little bundle of joy.
Create Health Goals
When it’s not terrifying you into believing that you have the bubonic plague, WedMD is a pretty useful service, especially in app form, which allows you to piece together your general health information to create goals to lose weight, improve endurance, and avoid the bubonic plague. Synced with Health, it can use the information from your other apps to come up with the most effective course of action for your particular health goals. Note: see a doctor if you have the plague.
Understand How Your Runs and Rides Fit Into Your Overall Health
Popular apps like Strava, which tracks your runs and bike rides with GPS, take your fitness to the next level when used with the Health app. Connected to information about your weight, calories burned, sleep patterns, and pretty much all other health concerns, you can better understand how hard you pushed yourself and how that workout fits in with your health on the whole.
Dance Your Way to Fitness
Dance Party: Free
If busting a move is your preferred method of getting in shape, the Dance Party app syncs up with Health to deliver the necessary info to your phone, helping you learn how this activity fits with other habits — think diet and sleep — to contribute to your general well-being.
Figure Out How Your Daily Lifestyle Needs to Change
For those looking to measure the fitness value of their daily activities, rather than the calories burned during specific workouts, Human does the trick. This app tracks any period of activity you have, and prompts you to get moving if you’ve been inactive for too long. It can also share this info with the Health app, providing you with a rundown that will inform other apps in order to help you hit your health goals.
Give Your Doctor the Best Info Possible
MyChart has already revolutionized the way patients communicate with physicians, using a digital platform to monitor medical history and track fitness data. Synced up with Health, it uses the info provided by your other health and fitness apps to make sure that data is as accurate as possible, keeping your doctor completely up to date on your health.
Save Your Life
Finally, there’s one somewhat overlooked aspect of the app that’s worth knowing: the Medical ID.
In the app, find this tab in the bottom right corner and use it to fill in information about your blood type, allergies, doctor contact info, etc. This can be accessed even if your iPhone is locked (someone needs to tap the Emergency button on the lock screen), and, if you ever need it, it could save your life.
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