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How to use the iPhone’s Health app

How to use the iPhone’s Health app


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Today’s political scene is chaotic, the generations are staring each other down, and the planet’s ecosystem is upending — but at least you can take care of yourself. Apple’s updated Health app, which appeared with iOS 13, allows you to monitor your health status, make important information available for caregivers in case of an accident or sudden illness, and track your fitness regimen.

When you first fire it up, you get a welcome screen that offers a brief rundown of the new features, which, according to Apple, includes a redesigned summary display, better presentation of your data, and menstrual cycle tracking. You’re then invited to input basic information — name, date of birth, gender, height, and weight — and then you’re brought to the main Summary screen, which gives you a rundown of your current statistics, depending on what you want to know.

The Summary screen may look simple, but there is a lot of health and exercise data you can view here.

On the bottom of the screen, tap on the “Browse” icon to see a variety of categories you can ask the app to track. For example, select “Heart,” and you can ask it to monitor your heart rate variability or oxygen saturation, among other things. Select “Activity,” and you can track cycling distance, exercise minutes, flights climbed, wheelchair distance, and many others.

Tap on a specific activity — say, cycling distance — and you’re brought to a detailed screen that shows your history with that activity (such as the distance you’ve cycled) and a list of helpful third-party apps that you can add. You can also place the activity in your front Summary screen by scrolling down to “Options” and tapping on the star next to “Add to Favorites.”

If you want to see all of the categories and all of the activities in one long list, there’s a way to do that as well. On the Summary page, next to the “Favorites” topic header, tap on the “Edit” link and then select the “All” tab. You’ll get a list of every activity there is, and you can then choose which ones you want to appear on the Summary page. (You won’t be able to see any of the data, though; for that, you still need to go to that “Browse” icon.)

Eventually, as you continue to use the app, you’ll see a “Highlights” category added to the Summary screen, which will show info from, according to Apple, “the apps and devices you use most.” You also may get notices at the top of the Summary screen — for example, if it detects unusual readings or a higher-than-usual volume level from your headphones.

Medical info

One of the first things you may want to do is set up medical info for first responders. When you first go into the Health app, you’ll see an invitation to set up your Medical ID. Tap on “Get Started” and enter any medical conditions, allergies, medications you take, and blood type; you can also add an emergency contact from your contact list. After that, when you (or someone else) tap on the Emergency link on your passcode screen, you will not only be able to make an emergency call, but you’ll also have access to medical info (by tapping a link in the lower-left corner) and emergency contact info.

Once you’ve started using the Health app, you can edit, add to, or just view your medical info by tapping on the Profile icon on the top right of the Summary screen. You can also set up a link to your medical records (if they are available from your provider) and tweak the privacy settings for any devices you may have connected to the Health app (such as an Apple Watch). You can also export all of your health data via .XML files.

Apple has created a good introductory video to some of the features of its new Health app. Take a few minutes to watch it, or just go into your Health app and set it up. It’s not difficult, and it’s definitely worth it.

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