How to cheat your way to a rest day on Apple Watch Activity Rings and Workouts

iMore (Image credit: iMore)

Look, I don't like writing this article. Cheating at fitness isn't good for anyone, most especially ourselves. But let's be reasonable here — Apple doesn't (yet?) provide any "rest day" functionality for activity rings or achievements, and that means if you're stuck, sick, injured, or simply on holiday, you're out of luck. Which brings me back to cheats…

Stand Rings

Apple Watch clock

Apple Watch clock (Image credit: iMore)

Apple Watch wants you to stand up and move around for one minute out of each hour for 12 hours a day. Do that and you fill up your stand ring. It's the only one that's time sensitive. With all the other rings, even if you have only an hour left on the day, you can get up and jog and fill them up. With stand, if you have 3 hours left on the ring and only 1 hour on the clock, you''re screwed.

Normally it's not that hard to get 12 hours in out of 24, but sometimes it is. For example, if you caught on a plane flying east with turbulence where you're trapped in a seat for 7 hours, and the time change cuts 3, 4, or 5 hours off the day, you might be done.

Well, except for two cheats:

  1. Apple Watch sensors are smart but they're not truly intelligent. If you can't stand up and move around, you can still lift your arm up and shake it around. Yeah, you'll look silly, but you'll get your stand credit.
  2. If you can't beat the clock, you can change it. Time change cut three hours of your day? Go into Settings > General > Time and manually switch it back. Just wait until your 12 hours gets recognized, and your ring achivement locked down, before changing it back. (Or just wait until you wake up the next morning.)

Move Rings

Move counts the active calories you burn during the day. Normally it's easy to make your goal, provided your goal isn't silly. Sometimes, though, you may have set it too high for a day when you can't get in a full run. If that's the case, there's a couple of things you can do:

  1. Lower your move goal temporarily. Go to the Activity app on Apple Watch, press firmly (force press), change the goal, and then lower it down to something you can realistically make. Then, tomorrow, raise it back up.
  2. Start an Other workout in the Workout app. More on that below!

Exercise Rings

Your Apple Watch wants you to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. It's currently a goal you can't change, either lower or higher. So, if you're stuck, sick, or injured, there's not much you can do about your Outdoor Run or Indoor Swim.

There is something you can do, though:

Start an Other workout in the Workout app. Other workout basically just counts time and awards you an average activity level for that time. So, run it for 30 minutes and you'll fill your 30 minute exercise ring. Likely your move ring as well, if it''s set low enough or you've done enough activity otherwise.

Note: I also use this when walking or jogging on snow or sand or any other surface that slows down the pace enough the regular workouts don't properly register minutes.


You can an award for perfect workout weeks and months, so if you're down and out for a day, you can use the same Other workout cheat above to make sure you don't miss.

Cheaters never prosper

Now that you know how to cheat your way to Activity Ring and Workout wins, here's the annoyingly self-righteous reminder not to use them. Unless absolutely necessary, of course.

Filling rings and getting achievements is nowhere nearly as important as getting fit and staying healthy.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.