How to Use the Apple Health App

Set up and customize your iPhone Health app

Two doctors looking at an iPhone.

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The Apple Health app is the single source for all of your digital health data on your iPhone. Whether you're trying to track your exercise, lose weight, manage chronic conditions, improve sleep, or do any number of other health-related activities, the Health app has the tools to help.

What Is the Apple Health App?

The Apple Health app, sometimes also called the iPhone Health app, is an app that comes pre-installed on all iPhones running iOS 8 or higher. It's a one-stop app that combines all kinds of health data from other sources into a single location where you can easily view that data. It tracks things like your daily exercise activity (steps, exercise minutes, stand hours, etc.), meditation sessions, heart rate, vitals, medical records, sleep quality, and much more.

The Health app is a little different from other pre-installed apps in that it doesn't have a lot of features of its own, other than displaying your health data in charts and graphs. For the most part, the app is a framework for displaying and reporting on data coming from other sources.

Which Sources Supply the Apple Health App With Data?

The Health app doesn't generate data on its own, for the most part. Instead, it imports data from other sources to display in the app.

Some of the most common data sources for the Health app are your iPhone and Apple Watch. Those devices can supply things like steps walked, heart rate (and on the Apple Watch Series 4 and up), stand hours, exercise types and times, and much more.

But the Health app can also accept data from a much wider range of sources. It can read data from compatible apps, such as diet apps that track your calorie intake, meditation apps that track your sessions, reproductive health apps that track women's fertility cycles, and more. There are even some electronic health records systems that are integrated with the Health app.

Beyond that, there are third-party health devices that work with the Health app. For instance, you might have a heart-rate monitor that you wear while running, a blood-sugar meter to help you monitor diabetes, or a device that measures the depth, consistency, and quality of your sleep. If those devices support Apple's Healthkit framework, any readings that they capture are sent to the Health app.

There's more about working with and managing these data sources in the "Using the Apple Health App: Sources" section later in this article.

How to Set Up the Apple Health App

Screenshots of adding vital data to the Apple Health app

To start using the Apple Health app, you need to add a bit of data about yourself to the app. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Health app to open it.

  2. Tap the silhouette icon in the top right corner.

  3. Fill out the data on this screen screen. This provides basic health information for the app to use.

  4. When you're finished, tap Close.

With that done, you should also see if you have any apps that can share data with the Health app. To do that, follow these steps:

Screenshots of data source options in the Apple Health app
  1. In the Health app, tap the Sources tab.

  2. The Apps section lists all of the apps already on your phone that are Health-compatible. Tap one to see its options.

  3. This screen lets you known what data the app can send to Health and, for apps that support it, what data the app can read from Health. Move the sliders to on/green for the options you want to enable.

Most sections of the Health app include suggestions for apps that can track the kind of data covered in that section. So, if you're looking to track a certain thing, check out the section of the Health app that covers it and you should find recommendations for apps that can help.

Using the Apple Health App: Today

Screenshots of Activity data in the Apple Health app

When you open the Health app, it defaults to the Today tab. This tab provides the main overview of your activity data for the current day (and all previous days, weeks, months, and years that you have data for). The exact data shown here depends on what data you're getting from various apps and health devices, but common sorts of data listed here include:

  • Steps walked for the day.
  • Activity rings from the Apple Watch Activity app.
  • Flights of stairs climbed.
  • Exercise minutes.
  • Mindful minutes spent meditating.
  • Heart rate data.

Virtually every part of the Health app, and every kind of data tracked in it, has the same set of options for viewing and charting historical data. So, the features described in this section apply to the entire app, in all tabs.

You can view more detail on any of the data displayed on the Today view by tapping it. When you do this, you'll see the data for the item you tapped shown as a graph and numbers. You can view all of your data for this item that's stored in the app by day, week, month, or year by tapping the D, W, M, or Y buttons across the top of the screen.

This screen also offers a handful of other options:

  • Add to Favorites: Move this slider to on/green to favorite this data and have it appear at the top of the Today tab.
  • Show All Data: Tap this to view all data in this category stored in the app, and drill down into the specifics of how and when it was recorded.
  • Data Sources & Access: Tap this to see all of the apps and devices that are recording the data used to get this total.
  • Units: If a piece of data can be shown in multiple units (for instance, Walking Distance can be shown as either miles or kilometers), tap this and make your choice.

Need to add data that wasn't tracked yet (like a workout you forgot to log, for instance)? From the data type screen, tap the + icon in the top right corner and add the date, time, and data, then tap Add.

Using the Apple Health App: Health Data

Screenshots of the Health Data section of the Apple Health app

While the Today tab tracks your activity, the Health Data tab tracks, well, health data like like your body measurements, nutrition, and vitals. Shortcuts at the top of the screen take you to sections focused on Activity, Mindfulness, Nutrition, and Sleep, and recommend apps that can help track those items.

Want to start tracking your sleep data without buying any hardware accessories? The Bedtime feature of the Clock app that comes with the iPhone can help. Check out this article from Apple on how to set up and use Bedtime.

Other sections of Health Data track Body Measurements (height, weight, Body Mass Index), Reproductive Health (menstrual cycle and related data using third-party apps; iOS 13 adds native support for this, so extra apps won't be needed), Results (blood glucose, insulin, blood alcohol, etc.), and Vitals (blood pressure, body temperature).

The Health app calculates your Body Mass Index (BMI) for you. Just go to the Body Measurements section and add your height and weight. Then go to Body Mass Index and tap + to add a value. Your calculated BMI will be preset. Just tap Add to record it.

Two particularly interesting sections of Health Data tab are Health Records and Heart. They offer the following features:

  • Health Records: If your doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider uses an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system that it compatible with Apple's Healthkit framework, and if you're running iOS 11.3 or higher, you can connect to it here and download your medical records. Follow the onscreen instructions and log into your account to access your records, where available. Check Apple's website to see if your healthcare provider supports.
  • Heart: Get data about your heart rate, electrocardiagram (ECG), blood pressure and other key data from a heart rate monitor, Apple Watch Series 4, or other devices. For more about getting an ECG with your Apple Watch, read How to Use an Apple Watch ECG.

Using the Apple Health App: Sources

The Sources tab lists all of the apps and hardware devices that send data to the Health app.

In addition to apps and devices you're currently using, this may include all previous iPhones, Apple Watches, and other devices that ever recorded data for the app. You can't add sources from this section of the app (the options for controlling apps were covered earlier in the article; you'll add hardware sources when setting up those devices), but you can remove these if you want. You may prefer not to do that, since it also removes the data from those devices, but if you want to do, follow these steps:

Screenshots of removing data sources from the Apple Health app
  1. Tap the App or Device you want to remove.

  2. To remove an app, tap the app, then tap Data, and tap Delete All Data. In the pop-up, tap Delete.

  3. To remove the hardware device, tap the device, then tap Delete All Data. In the pop-up, tap Delete.

The iPhone gives you specific and powerful controls over the privacy of your health data through the Privacy options built into the Settings app. To learn how to use those features to protect your data, read How to Protect Private Info Stored on Your iPhone.

Using the Apple Health App: Medical ID

The last element of the Apple Health app is the Medical ID. This is the digital equivalent of emergency medical data that first responders and others can use in situations when you're not able to provide this key information.

The Medical ID can be accessed from the Emergency Calling screen of the iPhone, so if you've been in an accident, it's still accessible. It provides basic data like your name, date of birth, emergency contacts, medical conditions, allergies, and more.

We've got a whole article about how to create and use the Medical ID. Check it out at How to Set Up and View an iPhone Medical ID.

How to Back Up Health App Data

It should go without saying, but it's important to back up your Health data. After all, if you've been tracking your exercise, or weight, or blood sugar, or other health data for years, you don't want to lose that data when you upgrade to a new iPhone or have to restore your iPhone from backup.

Your Health data can be automatically backed up to iCloud. To do do that, follow these steps:

Screenshots of backing up Health data to iCloud
  1. Tap the Settings app to open it.

  2. Tap your name at the top of the screen.

  3. Tap iCloud.

  4. Move the Health slider to on/green.

Apple encrypts your Health data during backup and transit to iCloud. If backing up sensitive data in the cloud makes you uncomfortable, you can back up your data to a computer. Learn more by reading How to Backup Your iPhone.