Hey Apple Watch, can you give it a rest?
When the first Apple Watch came out, I'll admit it, I was skeptical. After all, I already had a great Fitbit at the time, and it was great, why would I want or need an Apple Watch? Foolish words, I know. A few months later, I ended up buying one because of FOMO. At that point, I understood, and honestly, I found it way more motivational than a basic Fitbit to help me get on track towards a healthier and more active lifestyle. Plus, I could get my notifications on my wrist, make calls, and other things — this was the way of the future.
I may not be the healthiest person out there, but I do believe that having an Apple Watch for the last few years has certainly pushed me in the right direction. Trying to close all of your Activity Rings is addictive, and getting those awards in the Fitness app just pushes you to keep going, especially the personalized Monthly Challenges. But as I continue to strive for Perfect Months and completing my Monthly Challenges with my Series 5 (yes, I skipped out on the Apple Watch Series 6), which just get harder and harder by the way, I have to wonder — why won't Apple give us a break every now and then?
Those Monthly Challenges are tailored to you and just get harder over time
As you use your best Apple Watch more and more, you'll notice that you have a Monthly Challenge to complete for the month. At first, my challenges were fairly easy and doable, but as I continued to finish them, they began to get harder and more difficult to complete. That's because the Fitness app essentially learns about your activity patterns and an algorithm comes up with a new goal every month based on your previous history. However, some of these monthly challenge goals can end up being ridiculous (opens in new tab), and even considered a little unsafe.
For example, one of my first Monthly Challenges that I completed was burning 9,324 calories in November 2017. Or getting 195 Exercise minutes in March 2019. These are easy peasy for me to finish nowadays, but back then it was still something to work towards. Of course, these were my early challenges, which weren't long after I got an Apple Watch. I wasn't actively trying to complete them, but it would be a bonus if I did.
Nowadays, I try to complete as many Monthly Challenges as I can, and so far, I'm on a 12-month streak with these challenge goals. However, my last one was certainly a struggle, and I honestly wasn't even sure I would complete it — going 113 miles in April 2021, which I barely did by the last day. For May 2021, my goal is to burn 20,700 calories, which I'm on track to do because of my workout routine (under-desk elliptical while I work for at least two hours a day, and walk the dog in the evenings for about 30 minutes or 1.5 miles).
However, while I've been able to meet these challenge goals so far, it's because I've been working my butt off from the beginning of the month to make sure they're done. It's motivating, sure, but it's also causing a bit of strain on me physically with some pain in my legs and feet, especially now that I'm over 16 weeks pregnant.
If we're not talking about the Monthly Challenges and just our daily Activity Ring goals, well, that's easier for me to manage, though it's the Move Streak that I'm most concerned about. After all, I have a current streak of 825 days — I'd be devastated if I lost that. But what would happen if I've just fallen deathly ill or need major surgery (which I will in several months, technically)?
Apple should allow for rest and even sick days
Believe it or not, more exercise isn't always better for you. It's a fact that our human bodies need to take some time off between workout days in order to recover and repair themselves. After all, any workout regime, especially the more intensive ones, can be overdone and lead to burnout and fatigue.
I'm not a medical professional, but this information can be found on a variety of health websites if you just do a quick online search. So it's surprising to me, that after six years and counting, Apple still has not implemented any kind of break system into the Apple Watch and Fitness app. If the Apple Watch was really tailored to promote a healthy lifestyle, then it should take into consideration having rest days.
And what if you need to have surgery done? Those are major procedures and you're bound to be in recovery for at least a few days or even weeks afterward. Or what if you are knocked out of commission for a few days because you happened to get sick? Lastly, being pregnant is exhausting, and as I get further along (and bigger), I feel like I won't be able to keep up with my regular routine as well — how about cutting us some slack, Apple?
With WWDC 2021 approaching fast, maybe it should be something to be considered for watchOS 8. After all, my colleague Luke Filipowicz hopes for more mental health features in watchOS 8, and I think having some rest days from physical exercise kind of fits with that, in a way.
What can we do in the meantime?
Who knows if Apple will ever implement rest days, or even a "pregnancy mode" for the Apple Watch and Fitness app. I'll be crossing my fingers for it one day, but I won't hold my breath.
In the meantime, I suppose there is one workaround that one can do on their rest days. I discovered this on Shawn Blanc's blog, and it's kind of genius. It involves using the "Mind and Body" workout type. Basically, you take 15-30 minutes in a quiet, distraction-free environment with no digital devices. Spend that time to meditate, do some stretches, reflect, read, write, or just sit in the quiet and relax.
Some may think of this as "cheating," but I don't see why. After all, taking breaks is part of a healthy lifestyle since you need to recover and rest, and doing this kind of workout on your rest days still motivates you and keeps the momentum going, especially if you don't want to lose that Move Streak.
Do you wish Apple Watch had rest days?
I hope that Apple considers adding the option to have some rest days that don't count against us when it comes to streaks and monthly challenges in the future. This is one of those situations where more is not always better, and it's actually good for our health to take a day off every now and then.
What do you think? Do you have a workaround to the lack of rest days with Apple Watch and the Fitness app? Or do you want Apple to also implement a kind of resting feature as well? Let us know in the comments.
Get the best of iMore in your inbox, every day!
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
I agree! I think that rest days, or even sick days would be awesome. This would also be great for people who travel. Now that things are opening up, people who travel for their jobs will probably soon be trapped on planes and trains, prohibiting them from working out. I'm sure they would appreciate being able to get a break as well.
I've thought this for a while as well. I do think they made some changes with WatchOS 7 that can let you turn up and down the daily requirements will, which gets us part of the way there. But yeah, you should definitely be able to make adjustments to the monthly goals (or the Watch makes more reasonable goals based on your input) as well, whether it's due to pregnancy, surgery, etc.
My current Longest Move Streak is 2,170 days at 650 calories per day. If only I could learn to eat better…
You have to listen to your body and not chase monthly rewards. But if you want to chase those monthly goals then active recovery should be incorporated into workout routines. It works a treat.
i haven’t been more excited to see an article. i love it but the apple watch is SO SO bad for my mental health. however i’m so addicted to it. if i don’t close my rings, i get super down on myself. like some days i just need to rest but then i feel like a failure. thanks apple! i understand the move/exercise goal but what’s with the stand goal? sometimes i’m standing and it doesn’t even register that i am then i get upset. i would really appreciate some options to turn these goals OFF incase i didn’t want to be judged or wanted a rest day. shame on you apple! 🤣
I completely agree. I've been using May which came with an easy to attain monthly goal to take my watch off for almost all of my workouts because it'll drive down my averages so next month's goals aren't as outrageous as the Watch sets if you let it record everything you do. I wish I didn't have to manage my watch but could adjust want it wants more. Ability to change stand goal and minutes is an improvement, but more needed still.