Apple Fitness, Exercise Streaks and Health

I really enjoy exercising. I commit to being active every day. While there are days when my energy levels feel low and exercise feels like the last thing I feel like doing, I always feel better after. I’m also a user of Apple Fitness. And one of the things it does to encourage regular activity is create monthly challenges. And the user community, particularly on Reddit, is into focussing exercise streaks. But are these effective tools?

Good health is about more than being active. Being healthy is about good nutrition, regular activity and rest. The quest to close exercise rings, walk 10,000 steps, spend 30 minutes on a treadmill or maintain exercise streaks is admirable. But where is the motivation to rest?

Last month, my March challenge, according to Apple Fitness, as to close my rings 29 times. That’s means I needed to burn at least 800 calories during activity, spend 30 minutes exercising and at least one minute standing during 12 hours each day. Most days, this is quite achievable. My daily routine is to start the day with a walk or run which knocks at least half the active calories off before breakfast. And with active dogs, I get another walk in the afternoon.

But there are days I run further, do some strength training or go for a bike ride. And that means there are days when rest is a higher priority than exercise. Yet, I’ve not encountered an exercise program that prioritises, or even gives real attention to, rest.

I monitor my sleep reasonably closely and try to get to bed and wake at the same times each day – with limited success – but there’s no motivation built into tools like Apple Fitness to incentivise rest. Why is that?

As humans, we are generally inclined to taking action. But there are times when rest is better than activity. We know this when we are unwell. But the same goes for when were are in good health. Rest and sleep are used by our bodies to replenish and repair.

While there are plenty of people on Reddit and other social platforms humble-bragging about their hundreds or even thousands of days on an exercise or ring-closing streak, I want to encourage people to simply go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day and have had six to eight hours of solid rest.

Good, regular rest will do as much, or perhaps even more, for your well-being as a healthy diet and regular exercise.