You just got your first Apple Watch. Or it’s New Year’s Day. Or maybe you’ve just had enough. You’re ready to start closing your Apple Watch rings, and you want to do it every day.
For some, this “goal” comes easily. I have relatives who have never missed a day. I thought they were kidding until they shared their activity with me. They weren’t joking.
This article is not for those people. This is for the people who, like me, don’t enjoy exercising all that much. Who work a desk job and don’t have too many opportunities during the day to work out. You don’t have time – you have to make it.
I’ve had my Apple Watch for about two years now, and while I’d be lying if I said I’d closed my rings every day of those two years, I’ve had streaks that lasted for months. And in this post, I’m going to tell you what I was doing right during those streaks, and what I did wrong that broke those streaks.
This is about sustainability. If you’re here prepared to blow your mind with a grueling workout, this is the wrong article. Instead, we’re going to look at simple exercises that you can do every day to keep your Apple Watch rings closed. We’re going to have easy days as well as hard ones, and we’re going to approach this strategically, not manically.
Let’s start with the basics.
Understanding your Apple Watch rings
The first thing we’re going to cover in this post is what each of your Apple Watch rings covers. You have three of them, and the way you close each one is not going to be the same for everyone. To make this work, you’re going to need to take a three-pronged approach.
Let’s look at what it takes to close each ring and then cover some specific tips to keep in mind for each one.
The Move ring
The first ring is the red one – the Move ring. You close this ring by burning “active” calories. Active calories are different from regular calories because they require you to be actively (not passively) burning them. Everyone’s heard that they burn hundreds of calories in their sleep each night, and some even while sitting during the day.
While this is true, these calories aren’t being burned actively. Instead, you burn active calories by moving – hence the name of this ring. That means doing the dishes, laundry, or walking up the stairs. You can burn these calories by exercising, and that’s where the bulk of your progress will be.
But during the day, a large chunk of these calories are going to be moved by the little things you do each day. That means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from the front of the store, and getting up to move from your desk every twenty minutes or so.
The Move ring is what I call an “all-day” ring. You can close your Exercise ring in the last thirty minutes of your day, right before midnight. And you can skip doing the Stand ring for 8 hours in a row and still finish strong. But the Move ring requires your attention all day, every day. Keep checking it each day!
The Exercise ring
The next of the Apple Watch rings is the Exercise ring. This is the green ring. It fills up whenever you’re doing exercise, and it measures minutes rather than calories. By default, it’s set to 30 minutes, and I recommend keeping it there unless you’re a more ambitious type.
The easiest way to close your Exercise ring is to start a workout with the Workout app on your Apple Watch. Just tap the workout you want to complete and it’ll start tracking your workout.
You do need to bear in mind, though, that just tapping a workout isn’t enough to make this ring close. You also need to get your heart rate up past a certain point. Otherwise, the Exercise ring won’t move. That’s why you may have noticed that it doesn’t move as much as you would expect during easier exercises like walking or biking.
This ring will technically close without you selecting a workout, but it won’t be as reliable. You should always choose a workout whenever you’re intentionally exercising. Otherwise, you’ll find it hard to close this ring.
The Stand ring
Lastly, there’s the Stand ring. This can be the most confusing ring for people to get the hang of, as it doesn’t necessarily close just because you’re standing up. Additionally, I’ve found that the tracker that detects whether or not you’re standing is the least reliable of the three rings.
This ring fills up once per hour, and you have to close it for twelve hours during the day. To close the ring, you need to be standing and moving for at least a full minute of each hour. You can lay down and sleep for 59 minutes, but for that last minute, you need to be up and moving.
I’ve found that the best way to close this ring is to consciously swing my Apple Watch arm back and forth while I walk. I’ve had times where I walked in circles for five minutes and still not managed to close this ring. So really swing that arm and make sure your Apple Watch gets the idea!
How to close all three Apple Watch rings each day
Alright, now that you have an idea of what each ring does, you’re ready to start picking up strategies that will help you close your Apple Watch rings each day. Again, these are, by design, not going to be big and exciting strategies. Instead, we’re going to focus on small ways that you can close your rings and build up a sustainable habit. That way, you don’t find yourself burning out after just a few days.
Don’t be afraid to start small
First on our list of strategies for closing your Apple Watch rings is to start small. Don’t increase the defaults for your Stand and Exercise rings, and keep your Move ring around 350 to 400 calories. Do even less if your Apple Watch recommends it.
Certainly, the more you exercise and the more calories you burn, the better shape you’re likely to get in. But if you’re new to working out, then the basics are going to be pushing your limit already. There’s a lot of shame involved in “healthy” culture, whether it’s tied to losing weight or keeping up with others.
When it comes to closing your rings, push all that away! This is about you and nobody else. There’s no shame in starting small. After all, you’re going to be doing this every day. So just like riding a bike, writing a story, or learning to sew, you’re going to start easy and gradually build up your stamina and pace.
Start early in the day
Next, it helps to start early. It helps a lot, actually. Even though it’s technically possible to close most of your rings later in the day, it adds a serious challenge that is, in most cases, completely avoidable.
Your Stand ring is especially harder to close if you wait till later in the day. You have to at least have gotten one point on this ring by noon. After that, you can get it every hour and you still won’t close the ring. Try to get at least three or four before noon to give you a head start in the second half of the day.
For the Move and Exercise rings, try to exercise earlier in the day if you can. That includes going for a walk or something else simple. You don’t have to completely close both rings right away – even a fifteen-minute walk or jog will give you a head start.
Nine times out of ten, you’ll miss a day because you started too late. You either don’t have the energy or the time to finish anymore. Remember, you have sixteen hours (that’s how long you’re awake if you sleep eight hours) to close your rings. That should be plenty of time – but you have to use all of that time.
And for you night owls, you can start early in the day too. Just start in the hours after midnight instead of before noon.
Break up your exercises during the day
Another strategy to close your Apple Watch rings is to break up your exercises. This is one of the best ways to ensure you consistently close them, at least for me.
I have the kind of personality where if I think about how much I have to do, I give up. I have to take it one piece at a time. So instead of saying, “I have to write six pages today,” I’ll say, “Ok, in the next hour, let’s write one page and take a short break.” This gives me more downtime than the average person, but it helps me stay just as productive.
The same kind of thinking works with exercise. Let’s be honest – deep down, no one wants to exercise except for a handful of freaks. The rest of us would much rather flop on the couch and sleep or eat. So when you’re weighing the decision to flop for thirty minutes or exercise for thirty minutes, your brain might not let you make the right decision.
Fortunately, your brain is dumb and easy to trick. All you need to do is tell yourself that you’ll just work out for ten minutes, then flop for thirty minutes. And then do that! Then, later in the day, do another ten minutes, then play a game or read a book or watch your show. Then a few hours later, do your last ten minutes.
Seriously, it is so much easier to close your rings this way. Especially in the beginning. Over time, you might develop the discipline to do more. But for now, if you don’t have that discipline, work with what you’ve got. Thirty minutes spaced out is far better than no minutes, or ten minutes that made you quit because you got sick of it. Anybody can do anything for ten minutes, so use that to your advantage.
Have a variety of exercises to do each week
The next tip on closing your Apple Watch rings is shaking up your exercises. I used to do yoga every single day to close my rings. And while I love doing yoga, let’s be honest – nothing is fun when you do it every day.
So mix it up! Have an “intense” exercise, an easier exercise, and a cool-off exercise. The reason “intense” is in quotes like that is that it should be intense for you. For me, that’s yoga. Would someone who goes to the gym each week find yoga intense? Probably not. But I sit at my desk all day, so stretching and balancing and doing some core work gets me to sweat.
For my easier exercise, I bike, and for my cool-off, I walk. All three of these exercises are activities I enjoy doing. I love my bike, and I love the town I live in, so biking gives me a relaxing way to explore my town. It’s technically exercising, but it doesn’t feel like it. The same goes for walking; I’ll walk to the local comic book store, bring my laptop to the library to get some work done, or just go sit out at the park.
My point is, don’t run or do strength every day. Not only is this not as good for your body, but it also puts you in a bad headspace to keep your streak going.
Find exercises you enjoy doing
I already touched on this in the last point, but to reiterate, you need to find exercises you enjoy doing. I know you might be thinking that there are no such exercises, and I used to feel the same way. Running used to be my go-to workout, and one day I realized that I hated it. It hurt my legs, I hated being out of breath, I felt self-conscious doing it, there was nothing about it I enjoyed.
Don’t do that to yourself. Experiment! Grab Apple’s Fitness+ subscription (review here) and try one of each of the exercises. They have dance, yoga, core, cycling, strength, meditative walks, and they’re adding more all the time.
I tried yoga on a whim and for the first time found myself excited to work out. We’re physical beings, and the odds are pretty good that there’s something out there you enjoy doing with your body. Find that thing and stick with it!
Don’t let missed days defeat your Apple Watch rings aspirations
This is a big one: Don’t give up if you miss a day. In fact, be prepared to miss days. Right now, consider how you’re going to handle it. It might be after a week, or it might be after several months. But eventually, you’re going to be too tired, something’s going to come up, or maybe you’ll just forget about it one day.
It’s ok. Seriously. Don’t stress over it, and more importantly, don’t let it defeat you. Streaks can be a bad thing in that they feel pointless when they end, as if they’re over. But your streak doesn’t end just because you take a day off, it just has a gap day. And that’s fine.
It’s far worse to miss weeks or months of exercise and calorie-burning than it is to miss a day here and there. It happens, it’s normal, and it means you’re human. Shake it off, don’t let it stick, and don’t make unclosed rings your new streak.
Commit to one week, then one month, then two months…
Following the same logic as the previous point, try to set your timeline goals reasonably. If you’re reading this on New Year’s, you may have the idea to land every day for the next year. That’s an exciting goal! But it also might be unrealistic and overwhelming. And if there’s one thing about goals, it’s that making them unrealistic and overwhelming is a bad idea.
So start small! Commit to closing your Apple Watch rings each day for the next seven days. If you’ve never done that before, you may be surprised by just how challenging that can be.
Once you’ve managed to complete one week, aim for two, then three, then a month, then two months, and so on. This is a more sustainable and attainable way to start closing your rings regularly.
Wear your Apple Watch as often as possible and use an Activity watch face.
Our last tip is a fairly obvious one, but it’s still worth noting. You need to wear your Apple Watch all the time. Try to charge it at times when you know you aren’t going to be doing any activity. That means when you sit down to do some work and you’ve just gotten in a Stand hour.
Otherwise, you’re likely to find yourself missing goals because your Apple Watch is at home or on the charger.
Speaking of chargers, carry a spare! Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I missed a goal because I was away from home and didn’t have a charger. Keep one in your bag so that you’re never without a charge.
Also, use one of the activity watch faces. They’re not very stylish, but they’ll ensure that your mind is on closing your rings throughout the day.
Is closing your Apple Watch rings every day worth it?
As we close out this article, I wanted to add in some expectation setting. After all, no one wants to start working out expecting to get ripped, only for that to not happen. Below is an idea of what you can expect from closing your Apple Watch rings each day as well as what not to expect.
Don’t expect to get in life-changing shape
First, don’t expect to get in insane shape. Unless you’re pairing this with a program like P90X, the regimen offered by Apple Watch is pretty basic. In many ways, it’s a healthy minimum. And that’s not a bad thing! Doing the healthy minimum will still set you up pretty well, especially compared to others.
But it’s just that: The minimum. You probably won’t get abs, huge biceps, or hot quads. You’ll get a bit leaner, have a lot more energy, experience less back pain, and not run out of breath so easily. These are great things to strive for.
If you do want to get in crazy good shape, however, then you’re going to need to pick up another regimen. Your Apple Watch will be there to help you track that regimen, but it won’t necessarily encourage it. Just make sure to follow a trusted routine and stay safe! Injuries and overexertion aren’t going to get you the body you’re after.
You will probably feel better, though
While you aren’t likely to get in life-changing shape, you probably are going to feel better. Maybe even a lot better. I know that when go long periods without exercising, even doing a daily walk has a huge impact on the way I feel.
You’ll sleep better, have more energy, get into a more regular bathroom routine, feel less hungry and anxious, and build up your confidence. For most of us, that’s more than enough motivation to give daily exercise a go.
It’s one of the reasons yoga has become my go-to exercise. It’s relaxing, meditative, challenging, and it improves my flexibility and strength. Find your yoga and let it improve your well-being!
Your long-term health will be glad you closed your Apple Watch rings
Lastly, your long-term health will thank you for closing your Apple Watch rings. Though you might not feel massive changes in the short term, setting a healthy routine for yourself will result in lifelong benefits.
It’s one of the reasons that you shouldn’t let a missed day here and there get you down. Focus on the big picture, which is maintaining and improving your health, your lifespan, and building a happier life along the way.
Closing your rings isn’t necessarily the most robust and surefire way of attaining these goals, but it’s a step in the right direction and one that many of us wouldn’t take otherwise.
Start closing your Apple Watch rings each day
And that’s it! That’s all the advice there is on closing your Apple Watch rings every day. By following these guidelines and appropriately setting your expectations, you can start building a healthier lifestyle.
For more insights, news, and guides on all things Apple, check out the rest of the AppleToolBox blog.
See you next time!