I purchased my first Apple Watch a few months ago when Apple announced the new Apple Watch SE. For me, a major motivation for purchasing the watch was improving my fitness through the Activity rings.
I quickly found that two of the rings were fairly easy to close. The first was the Stand ring; all I had to do was stand when my Apple Watch told me to stand, and I’d meet the goal each day.
The Exercise ring wasn’t too difficult either; I’d simply do my normal thirty-minute workout, track it with the Workout app, and close my ring early in the day.
The Move ring, on the other hand, gave me a significant amount of trouble for several weeks, and it wasn’t until the last month that I got a handle on this ring.
In this post, I’m going to share with you everything that I’ve learned about closing the Move ring on Apple Watch every day.
Let’s get started.
What does the Move ring on Apple Watch measure?
I wrote an in-depth post on the differences between the Move and Exercise rings not too long ago, which you can read for a deeper analysis of the Move ring and what it measures.
To summarize what I wrote there, the Move ring measures active calories. You burn calories all day long, even in your sleep. Apple Watch tracks these, but they don’t count towards your goal. Instead, Apple Watch only uses active calories, or calories you burn while moving, as progress towards your Move ring.
If you didn’t realize this, then it could quickly explain why you’ve had trouble closing this ring. For instance, if you do a plank or ride a bicycle without turning on the Workout app, then your Apple Watch probably won’t count any of this progress towards your Move goal because your wrist isn’t moving during either exercise.
Why the Move ring is so important
The Move goal is important for two reasons. First, if you want to lose weight (and let’s be honest, most of us could stand to lose a few pounds), the Move ring increases your calorie deficit every day. Think of it like eliminating half a burger from your diet each day.
Second, and more importantly, meeting your Move goal increases the amount of exercise you get each day. Closing your Exercise ring is great, but it’s over in thirty minutes. And while this does go a long way towards improving your health, it’s just one step.
The Move ring, on the other hand, encourages you to be active throughout the day, not just for a thirty-minute chunk. Even if this activity is less intense than your exercise time, it helps you become a less sedentary person, which has a massive impact on your overall health.
6 tips for meeting your Move goal on Apple Watch (without cheating)
So, with this understanding of how the Move ring works and why it matters, it’s time to get into closing it. We’ll cover “cheats” for closing the ring later, but for now, we’re going to focus on “real” ways to close your rings. I’ve tried to pick things that are reasonably achievable daily, so you should be able to incorporate most of these into your routine.
1. Set a Move goal that’s right for you
In my opinion, this is the most important factor in closing your Move ring consistently. When I first got my Apple Watch, I set it to the recommended Move goal and didn’t touch it for the first two weeks. And what I found was that I never even came close to closing it. I couldn’t seem to do enough in the day to get past 75% of what my ring was asking of me.
This led to me kind of giving up on this ring and not taking it seriously, which is not what you want. It’s better to start with a goal you know you can hit and then slowly increase it as you get in the habit of hitting it.
When setting your Apple Watch Move goal, look at your Move history and try to pick the lowest number on a good day (i.e., don’t choose a Move goal based on a day where you were on an airplane the entire time). For me, this was around 400 calories each day.
2. Switch to a standing desk
At the time of writing, COVID-19 is still at large, forcing a decent chunk of the global population indoors. This can make it hard to find time to move during your day since you’re probably confined to a home office or bedroom.
Fortunately, you can reduce the sedentary nature of your home desk by switching to a standing desk. As it sounds, this is a desk where you stand instead of sit. This is not only healthier, but it makes it easier to pace, wiggle, and move while you work.
Purchasing a standing desk can be a bit pricey, so I recommend starting with items you have around the house. I found a lightweight end table in my apartment and placed it on my desk. You can also buy “standing desk converters”, which are just stands for your desk that bring your computer screen up to standing height.
3. Do 30 minutes of exercise every day
This is a must. It going to be a serious challenge to close your Move ring each day if you aren’t also doing your daily thirty minutes of exercise. For me, I’ve found that thirty minutes of yoga covers about half of my Move ring. If I miss this, then I’m not going to meet my Move ring.
Even a lightweight workout, such as a walk around the block, can go a long way towards meeting your Move goal. Make sure to not miss this time and to track it with the Workout app on your Apple Watch.
4. Do a handful of HIIT exercises throughout the day
While thirty minutes of exercise should get you much closer to meeting your Move goal, it shouldn’t close it on its own. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep using exercise to close your Move ring. That’s where HIIT exercises come in.
HIIT exercises, short for High-Intensity Interval Training, refer to fast-paced exercises that consume a lot of energy in a short amount of time. Jump rope, jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges, running in place – anything that will make you breathless in a minute.
These exercises aren’t necessarily the best for building muscle, but they are good for quickly knocking out chunks of calories throughout the day. And since they’re only for a few minutes at a time, you can squeeze two or three HIIT sessions in throughout your day on top of your thirty minutes of daily exercise.
5. Listen to your Apple Watch’s smart coaching
Near the end of each day (5 pm and later) you should start getting notifications about your Apple Watch Move ring if you haven’t closed it yet. When you tap on these notifications, you’ll see a message giving you advice on how to close your Move ring before bed.
Generally, this advice is specific and practical. Mine often look something like, “Take a 17-minute walk to finish closing your Move ring.”
When you get these notifications, listen to them! They’re tailored to you and take all of the guesswork out of closing your rings. If possible, follow the advice they offer.
6. Walk when you can
Lastly, a tried and true method of closing your Move ring is walking as much as possible. This is something that has become more difficult during the pandemic, but is still possible and will be possible again in the future.
Walk to work, walk to the grocery store, walk to the coffee shop. Walking is good for your mental and physical health, so you’ll be closing your rings while also incorporating a positive activity into your day.
If you’re stuck at home, walk around the house for five minutes each time you go to close your Stand ring.
Can you cheat the Move ring on Apple Watch?
Yes, you can cheat the Move ring. Honestly, it’s not even that hard. You can manually add workouts in the Health app on your iPhone. You can also choose a workout from the Workout app (such as Other) and just let it run while you sit at your desk. Both of these will artificially rack up calories.
If you’re cheating on this ring, you probably don’t need a lecture on why you shouldn’t be doing this. Still, I feel obligated to say that this defeats the purpose of getting an Apple Watch. I’m not sure why you would want to do this, and I recommend not doing it; you’re only hurting yourself.
Remember to go easy on yourself
The Activity rings on Apple Watch are a great introduction to fitness and can make a big impact on your health if you stick with them.
However, it’s important to remember that having a machine strapped to your wrist doesn’t make you a machine. You will have days where you simply don’t have time to close your Move ring, or are just too tired. Maybe you’ll lose a long streak or fail to start one in the first place.
This is ok. Like many things in life, making the goal is almost as good as completing it. After all, you’ll be much closer to completing the goal once it’s set than you would if you never set it at all. Trying for the goal is as much an accomplishment as seeing it through.