10 awesome Activity app secrets [Cult of Mac Magazine No. 293]

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Get ready to get ripped with these hidden Activity app features.
Get ready to get ripped with these hidden Activity app features.
Cover: Graham Bower/Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Dig into Apple’s slick Activity app and you’ll find some advanced metrics that can help take your fitness to the next level.

Get the lowdown on 10 features hidden inside the app — plus the week’s best Apple news, reviews and how-tos — in this week’s issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. It’s free and it looks the perfect way to enjoy some weekend reading on your iPad. Or use the links below to read the stories on our website.

10 hidden Activity app features that will take your fitness to the next level

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Discover the secrets of the Apple Activity app.
Discover the secrets of the Activity app.
Photo illustration: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At first glance, the iPhone Activity app seems pretty simple. It’s basically just a calendar to keep track of your daily Activity Rings. But if you know where to look, you’ll find a surprising number of pro features buried beneath that slick, simple interface.

So check out our top 10 iPhone Activity app tips and discover some indispensable stats that will help take your fitness to the next level.

How to win Apple Watch Activity Competitions every time

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Let the battle commence with Apple Watch Activity Competitions.
Let the battle commence with Apple Watch Activity Competitions .
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch Activity Competitions are a perfect way to fall out with friends and colleagues. Simply send a challenge via the Activity app on your watch and, if they accept, a seven-day grudge match commences.

With Activity Competitions, a new feature in watchOS 5, it’s not the taking part that counts. It’s the winning. The winner receives a shiny virtual medal to add to their awards, while the loser gets zip.

Fortunately, when you know how Activity Competitions work, you can maximize your chance of winning every time. Here’s how.

Get fit with Apple Watch and nail your New Year’s resolution

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How to get in shape with Apple Watch in 2019
How to get in shape with Apple Watch in 2019
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If your New Year’s resolution is to get fit with Apple Watch in 2019, maybe I can help. I know from personal experience that it’s never too late to get in shape.

I’m a middle-aged guy, and up until a few years ago, I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. I never exercised, I only ate junk food, and I was seriously overweight. Today, I have a six-pack, I run seven miles a day, and I even write about fitness for Cult of Mac.

The secret to my transformation is something I call “The Ratchet.” It’s a way of running that makes it so easy to get started that pretty much anyone who can walk can do it. All you need is your Apple Watch and a pair of running shoes.

So if you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions for 2019, why not give The Ratchet a try? Here’s how.

How to start swimming with Apple Watch

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Apple Watch Series 4 loves getting wet
Apple Watch Series 4 loves getting wet.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

While many of us learn to swim at school, plenty of people never return to the pool as an adult. If that sounds familiar, but your shiny new Apple Watch Series 4 is tempting you to dip your toe in the water again, this guide to swimming with Apple Watch is for you.

We’ll take a look at what equipment you’ll need, how to use your watch for swimming, how to structure your workouts for maximum fitness gains, and how to track your progress in Apple’s Activity app.

Let’s dive in and start swimming with Apple Watch.

How to sync your Apple workouts to Strava automatically

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Sync Apple Workout app with Strava to get the best of both worlds.
Using Apple's Workout app with Strava gives you the best of both worlds.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Your shiny new Apple Watch is great for logging workouts. But it comes up short when you want to review your training progress and share your workout history with friends. Everything gets bundled in the Activity and Health apps on your iPhone, which are pretty basic.

That’s where third-party apps like Strava come in. Strava offers all the essential fitness analytics that Apple overlooks. The trouble is, Strava’s watch app sucks for logging workouts.

If only you could have the best of both worlds: logging your workouts with Apple’s excellent built-in Workout app, then syncing the data automatically to Strava. Well, thanks to a brilliant indie app called HealthFit, you can.

iOS 12 accidentally removes select Apple Watch Activity badges

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Activity badges for Apple Watch challenges
iOS 12's collection of "limited edition" Activity challenge badges is missing a few awards.
Screenshot: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

With the release of iOS 12 earlier this week, Apple made broad sweeping improvements to the OS. Unfortunately, the update also came with a small bug for fitness zealots sporting a cabinet full of limited edition Activity challenge badges. If that just described your Apple Watch badge collection, you can cool your cycling shorts, everything will be ok.

Apple Watch Move ring vs. Exercise ring: What’s the difference?

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Don't get your Move and Exercise rings mixed up
Don't get your Move and Exercise rings mixed up
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Closing your Apple Watch Activity Rings can become such an obsession that it’s easy to forget why you’re doing it. It’s not just to keep Tim Cook happy in his giant, ring-shaped office in Cupertino. So, what does it really mean to close a ring?

The Stand goal is obvious. We all know we shouldn’t sit around on our asses all day. But how about the Move and Exercise rings? Aren’t they kind of the same thing? Actually, no. They’re very different, and understanding that difference is massively important if you want to achieve your fitness goals.

Go the extra mile with Nike+ Run Club [50 Essential iOS Apps #23]

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Nike+ Run Club app run tracking
Nike+ Run Club offers detailed run tracking whether you're new to running or an experienced marathon runner.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Nike+ Run ClubRunning is a great form of exercise, regardless of your fitness level. Getting motivated to run is a different story. Some running apps are designed for run tracking, others offer training, or make exercise a game. Nike+ Run Club blends all three to get you started and keep you moving, from your first run to your thousandth mile, and beyond.