4 Apple Health features that help physical and mental health

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Key Takeaways

  • My iPhone serves as a pedometer for daily step tracking, providing insights into habits and trends.
  • The Apple Halth app can check headphone audio levels to prevent hearing damage, ensuring music isn’t too loud.
  • I look to the Health app for creating bedtime schedules, medication reminders, and overall healthy habit tracking.

Admittedly, I’m a horrible Apple Watch owner. When I actually remember to place my 44mm Series 8 on its charger, I can’t seem to forget how the signature squircle design sits a bit too bulkily on my smaller wrist. And no matter how much faster, longer lasting, or powerful the Series 9 may be, I doubt the upgrades are enough to break my habits.


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Far from a runner or athlete, I use my watch for three primary reasons: checking the time, tracking my steps as I walk around New York City, and (attempting) to stick to a sleep schedule. After ditching my watch, I realized I didn’t have to give up my top tracking rituals as my Apple Health app has the same features, plus a few helpful surprises.

To find any of these functions, simply select the “browse” tab of the health app.

1 A pedometer to track your steps

My phone goes everywhere with me, anyways

Step tracker chart in Apple health app

Even if it’s stashed away in your work tote or backpack, if you’ve been there, your phone has too. And as a New York transplant eager to get everywhere on foot, I average about 9,000 steps a day, and I always want to up my benchmark every month.

My iPhone practically functions as a wearable pedometer by heading to the Health app. Aside from showing daily stats, the app also displays overall trends — showing if your steps are lower are higher than at that time from the day before. Essentially, it tells me when I’ve been lazy. Joking aside, the feature succeeds by displaying current habits and comparing them to old ones so that I have the power to form new, sustainable routines. To access these insights, simply go to your health app and select “steps.”

2 Check headphone levels

An easy way Apple can protect your ears

Headphone levels in Apple Health app

While on-demand audio streaming via wireless headphones is entertaining and convenient, listening to audio at high levels is potentially damaging. I’ve been a fan of earbuds since the days of the iPod — always listening to music at volumes that “accidentally” block out my parents, friends, and co-workers. For those times I want to (or should) be in-tune with both my music and my surroundings, features like transparent mode as opposed to active noise cancellation is great, but I often just turn up the volume even louder.

It may be a quick solution to getting rid of noise, but I know now that exposing my ear drums to consistent trauma will eventually lead to my angry parents’ warning that I will, in fact, damage my hearing someday.


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So that I don’t let this warning fall on deaf ears (sorry, not sorry), I check the “Headphone Audio Levels” setting in the Health app to make sure my listening levels are OK. There’s even a chart that breaks down how much exposure (in dB) it takes to be at risk for permanent damage. I use this as a benchmark to make sure I’m within my parameters as I blast my podcast to block out the screeching of the New York subway rails.

3 Create a bedtime schedule

I sleep better when setting screen boundaries

Bedtime schedule in Apple Health app

Emitting blue light — which has been shown to disrupt circadian rhythms and therefore sleep — phones are best put away before bed. While simple in theory, the quick “I’ll check Instagram” turns into an hour in bed wondering how you suddenly landed on your aunt’s friend’s daughter’s college roommate photos from their Caribbean vacation.


How to limit the blue light from your iPhone or Android phone

Protect your eyes from straining light on your phone with a few taps on the screen.

To combat doom-scrolling, I set up a “bedtime” schedule in which my phone automatically kicks into “do not disturb” mode from 11:00pm to 6:55am. That way, I’m more intentional about unlocking and using my phone and not sucked in to checking Instagram for the millionth time after simply taking the two seconds to respond to the text catalyst.

4 Add medications and reminders

Like setting a timer on your phone, but better

Medication reminder in Apple Health app

Over the past year, I’ve had to start taking different medications — each at specific times. Initially, I set a reminder on my iPhone, but found it disrupting and often forgot what exactly I had set a reminder for. This Health app feature immensely streamlined the process.

With the ability to add consistency and strength (in mg, g, mL, or percentage), this tool in addition to the medical ID feature, is also great for aiding in an emergency when paramedics or doctors quickly need access to medical history and medications. Plus, it helps when I need to recall medication specifics during my annual doctor’s visits.


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Overall, the Apple Health app in iPhone is what I believe to be an underestimated powerhouse that not only tracks, but instills, healthy habits. And apart from physical health benefits, an iOS 17 update also lends itself to improved mental health practices, allowing users to log moods via a questionnaire — almost like a virtual journal.

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