The best Apple Watch fitness and health apps

From the outset, the Apple Watch has had a strong focus on fitness and health. The very first model introduced us to the concept of closing our rings, and Apple has continued to add more and more health and fitness features to the device. The Apple Watch Series 8 includes temperature sensing, sleep tracking, step counting, heart rate tracking, ECG, blood oxygen measurements, medication reminders, fall detection, and more.

There are plenty of great Apple Watch apps out there, and many of these apps can help you to get the most out of the powerful health and fitness features of the Apple Watch. Here are some of the best Apple Watch fitness and health apps you should be checking out.

The best Apple Watch apps for general activity

Apple Watch apps cover almost all aspects of health and fitness. If you’re just looking for apps to help you track or improve your day-to-day exercise, then the following apps are worth a look.


Activity and Workout apps on an Apple Watch

The Activity and Workout apps have been on the Apple Watch since the very beginning, and whilst Activity hasn’t really changed much, Workout has only grown over the years. They’re both incredibly useful apps; Activity for keeping you motivated, and Workout for tracking your exercise.

Activity tracks your calories burned through exercise, how many minutes of exercise you’ve done, and the numbers of hours in which you stand up. Hit your targets to close your rings.

Workout allows you to track a wide range of workouts directly from your Apple Watch, including running, walking, cycling, swimming, strength training, dance, and more. New workouts are added with each new version of watchOS and you can create custom workouts. The app will show the elapsed time of your workout, your heart rate, calories burned, and you can see which heart rate zone you’re currently working in.

Activity and Workout are pre-installed on the Apple Watch


pedometer++ app on an Apple Watch

There’s a lot of debate about whether the accepted target of walking 10,000 steps a day is backed up by science, but there’s no debate that walking more is good for your health. Your Apple Watch tracks your steps, but it doesn’t make it easy to see how many you’ve done for the day at a glance, or to see how far you are towards your target.

Pedometer++ is a very simple app that does one thing really well. It allows you to add a complication to your Apple Watch face so that you can see your current step count with a quick glance and see how far to your target you are. Having a constant reminder of how many (or how few) steps you’ve managed for the day can be really powerful motivation to get out of your chair.

Download Pedometer++ from the Apple App Store (Free with in-app purchases)

The best workout apps for Apple Watch

If you’re looking for a more vigorous workout, Apple Watch apps have you covered there too. There are some excellent apps that can help you track your workouts, or guide you through workouts to help you achieve your goals.

Streaks Workout

Streaks Workout app on an Apple Watch

Streaks Workout is another app from the same company that created the original Streaks app. The Streaks app is a simple way to track habits and works brilliantly on the Apple Watch where you can log habits and see which are outstanding from your wrist. Streaks Workout takes the same concept and applies it to exercise, encouraging you to complete a workout every day, even if it’s only a short one, in order to maintain your streak.

You can choose from one of four pre-set workouts that are 6, 12, 18, or 30 minutes in length. The app then generates a random selection of short exercises for you to perform, such as squats, crunches, and everyone’s favourite, burpees. You can also create your own custom workouts by selecting the exercises you want to include and even the order that they appear. You can start and follow the sessions directly from your Apple Watch; there’s no need to use your iPhone.

Download Streaks Workout from the Apple App Store ($3.99/£3.99)


Fitbod app on Apple Watch

If you’re looking for a workout that’s a little more focused, then check out Fitbod. Instead of the same sets of exercises, you get a personalised training plan that takes into account your current ability, your past workouts, the recovery of the muscles that you’ve been working, and the gym equipment you have available. You can even email questions to a fitness coach to get pointers on your workouts.

The app works really well on the Apple Watch. A lot of the set-up, such as listing the equipment you have available needs to be done on your iPhone, but the workouts themselves can be controlled directly from your wrist. You can log each set, see the countdown timer for rest, and work your way through your sets of exercises. When you’re done, you’ll need to return to your iPhone to register how easy (or hard) you found the workout, which feeds back into the algorithms to determine what to throw at you next time.

Download Fitbod from the Apple App Store ($12.99/£11.49 per month)


Strava app on Apple Watch

Strava is one of the most popular fitness apps on the iPhone, and it works really well on the Apple Watch too. It’s focus is on tracking running and cycling, but it can also track a wide range of other activities such as skiing or even pickleball, if that’s your bag. One of its key selling points is the social aspect; you can see other Strava users’ runs and routes, and even try to make it onto the leader board for the fastest times to run a particular segment of a route.

Many of these more in-depth features just aren’t possible on the small screen of an Apple Watch, but the key features can be used without needing your iPhone at all. You can start a workout, track your pace, see your splits, and listen to music, all directly from your wrist. When you’re done, you can see your route on your iPhone along with all of your stats.

Download Strava from the Apple App Store ($11.99/£8.49 per month)

The best health apps for Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is great for working out and keeping you fit, but exercise isn’t the only way to keep healthy. There are plenty of useful Apple Watch apps focused on health, from medication reminders to period tracking. Here are some of the best.


Heart Watch app on Apple Watch

Your Apple Watch has the ability to measure your heart rate and will track it during your workouts. However, it doesn’t really provide any insights into your heart rate, how it changes over time, and what that data might mean. HeartWatch fills this gap, giving you wealth of data about your heart rate.

On the Apple Watch, HeartWatch offers some really useful features. You can see a graph of your heart rate over time, and quickly take your current pulse. When you’re working out, HeartWatch can provide haptic feedback every time your heart rate enters a new zone, based on your maximum heart rate. This is great for ensuring that you stay in the correct zone to achieve the results you’re aiming for. When you’re done, you can see all your heart rate data on your iPhone in granular detail.

Download HeartWatch from the Apple App Store ($4.99/£4.99)

Air Matters

Air Matters app on Apple Watch

Some apps are incredibly simple but can have a huge impact on your health and fitness. One of those apps is Air Matters. If you suffer from allergies such as hay fever, going outdoors can become a nightmare. Air Matters is a simple way to see air quality information at a glance on your Apple Watch, so that you’re forewarned about what you’re going to face when you step out the door.

The app provides general air quality information such as an air quality index (AQI) score and the current temperature and humidity. For allergy sufferers, however, the key information is the pollen data. You get scores for some of the most common allergy-inducing pollens, and an overall allergy risk score. You can display this as a complication on your Apple Watch face and be able to see at a single glance if you’re going to spend the day sneezing or not.

Download Air Matters from the Apple App Store (Free with in-app purchases)


Thirstic app on Apple Watch

Your body is around 60 per cent water, so keeping it hydrated is vital for your health. Drinking enough water can help you lose weight, help treat kidney stones, prevent headaches, improve brain function, and even improve physical performance. The problem with many water tracking apps, however, is that it doesn’t matter when you drink; you could drink nothing all day, and then guzzle your full quota just before bed. You’ve hit your target, but this isn’t optimal for health, as your body will become dehydrated throughout the day.

Thirstic is different because it shows you how much water you should have drunk so far today in order to remain hydrated. You can see how much you’ve drunk, and how that corresponds to the target amount for the current time. It can even learn your workout habits and increase your target for days that you work out, or when the weather is hot. The Apple Watch app has a useful complication that shows a partial ring for your current target and another for the actual amount you’ve drunk, so you can quickly see whether you’re on track, or behind schedule.

Download Thirstic from the Apple App Store (Free with in-app purchases)


Headspace app on Apple Watch

So far, all the apps on this list have been focused on physical health. Headspace is instead focused on your mental health by tapping into one of the most popular wellness techniques: Mindfulness. The app offers a wide range of guided mindfulness exercises designed to help you create habits to support your mental health and reduce stress.

You can use Headspace with your iPhone, but you can also start a Headspace session directly from your Apple Watch. Connect to your AirPods or a Bluetooth speaker, and you can work your way through a range of different activities. Even being able to leave your iPhone in another room whilst you use Headspace feels like it washes away some of your stress.

Download Headspace from the Apple App Store ($12.99/£9.99 per month)

Pocket Yoga

Pocket Yoga app on Apple Watch

Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, strength, and posture. It’s also been shown to reduce cholesterol and slow the progression of heart disease, alongside improving circulation. If you’re new to yoga, the thought of embarrassing yourself in front of a class full of ultra-flexible pros can be enough to put you off trying it. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps that allow you to try out yoga in the comfort of your own home.

Pocket Yoga is ideal, because it ensures that you can see each pose you need to perform on your Apple Watch, rather than having to try to see your iPhone whilst you’re in downward dog pose. You have to start the session from your phone, but once you’ve started, all the poses and timings are visible from your watch. It’s a great way to start your yoga journey, and there are increasingly challenging levels including some seriously advanced poses.

Download Pocket Yoga from the Apple App Store ($2.99/£2.99)

How I chose the best Apple Watch fitness and health apps

There are so many fitness apps for Apple Watch that narrowing down this list was a real challenge. A lot of favourites, such as Athlytic, MyFitnessPal, Watchto5K, Gymaholic, and more had to fall by the wayside. There were a few criteria that helped me hone this list, however. Firstly, these apps had to be apps that you could be used effectively from your Apple Watch without your iPhone. Secondly, they had to be apps that didn’t require any additional equipment to use, so that there was no barrier for anyone wanting to start their journey to getting fitter and healthier with their Apple Watch.

How to pick the right Apple Watch health and fitness apps

When you’re looking for a health and fitness app for your Apple Watch, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Do I need my iPhone with me?

The apps on this list were chosen because you can use them at least in part without your iPhone. There will be some apps where this is definitely desirable. For example, a running app that works solely on your Apple Watch ensures that you don’t have to lug your iPhone around on your run. It’s worth checking how well the Apple Watch app will work independently of your iPhone before you pay for an app.

How expensive are health and fitness apps?

There’s no short answer to that question. Some apps are free to use, or have a small fee to purchase them for a lifetime of use. The more complex apps, however, will often offer a subscription service, with significant annual or monthly fees. You’ll need to weigh up the cost against potential savings on gym fees or yoga classes, for example.

What are Apple Watch complications?

Apple Watch complications are a way to add information from your Apple Watch apps directly to your watch face. Many apps offer useful complications that let you see key health info on your watch, or allow you to quickly launch a workout app from your Apple Watch face. Not all apps have complications however, and some that do aren’t very useful. It’s worth learning what complications an app offers before you add it to your collection.

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