You Can Now Tweak Your Goals in watchOS 7 — Here’s How to Do It

Apple Watch Set Goals watchOS 7 Credit: Jesse Hollington
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Ever since the release of the first Apple Watch, there have been three specific fitness goals presented in the form of activity rings: Move, Exercise, and Stand, and while you’ve always been able to adjust your move goal, which was presented in the form of calories burned, the other two have been fixed in stone since the very beginning.

Until now, that is. It looks like Apple snuck a subtle feature into the final release of watchOS 7 that finally allows all three of the Apple Watch fitness goals to be customized to your liking.

The default Move goal began at 500 calories by default, but you could adjust it upward or downward from there, and in fact, the Apple Watch would gently nudge you to increase it slightly each week during the Monday morning weekly summary notification.

The Move goal was basically Apple’s version of step tracking; rather than presenting a count of actual steps taken, which many experts now believe is an arbitrary measurement at best anyway, the Apple Watch would show you actual calories burned through your everyday movement, whether that was just walking or doing household chores.

Unlike the Exercise goal, however, the move goal didn’t require an elevated heart rate or any kind of rapid movement to accumulate calories. On the other hand, the Exercise ring, which was previously fixed at 30 minutes per day, required that you get your heart rate up so that what you were doing would actually count as “exercise” and not just moving around. It’s unclear exactly what the thresholds for this are — and there are some workouts that don’t require actual exercise to count Exercise minutes — but for all intents and purposes, it basically required at least a brisk walk to trigger it.

Meanwhile, the Stand goal, which was perhaps the most original idea of all among fitness trackers at the time, required that you spend at least a minute standing each hour, with a fixed goal of 12 hours per day required to actually close the blue ring.

Again, there’s a bit of a grey area to what constitutes “standing” but obviously the Apple Watch had to sense enough of the right kind of movements to actually know that you were standing up — or to at least to make it think so, as swinging your arm rapidly back and forth while sitting down can qualify for a minute of standing up, while on the other hand simply sauntering from one room in your home to another, or getting up to grab a coffee often wouldn’t be enough to trigger it.

Moving the Bar

Either way, however, if you’ve been upset at Apple’s rather arbitrary choice to peg these goals at 30 minutes and 12 hours, respectively, the good news is that watchOS 7 will finally allow you to change them to whatever values you like. Here’s how.

  1. Open the Activity app on your Apple Watch (although this is now called “Fitness” on the iPhone, the Apple Watch version still uses the original name).
  2. Scroll down to the very bottom.
  3. Tap “Change Goals”
  4. The Move Goal will be shown first, as before. Adjust it to your liking, or leave it as-is.
  5. Tap Next. You’ll be taken to the Exercise Goal.
  6. Adjust this to the number of minutes you’d like to exercise each day using the digital crown or plus and minus buttons.
  7. Tap Next to move on to the Stand Goal.
  8. Adjust this to the number of hours you want to stand each day using the digital crown or plus and minus buttons.
  9. Tap OK to save your new goals.

If you change your mind at any point during the process, you can tap Cancel in the top left corner instead. This will leave all three goals unchanged — the values aren’t saved until you tap OK on the final Stand Goal screen.

Also keep in mind that you won’t be able to go completely crazy here, as Apple is still enforcing minimum and maximum values. For the Stand Goal, that’s between 6 and 12 hours, while the Exercise Goal has a range of 10 minutes to 60 minutes.

Of course, some may find this a bit disappointing, as the Exercise and Stand goals were the only two you couldn’t cheat on before, but as our teachers used to tell us in school, you’re really only hurting yourself if you decide to go that route.

At the end of the day, the Apple Watch should be about helping you to meet your own personal fitness goals, so it makes sense that you should have more control over what those goals are, and whether you actually want to close your rings every day, or recognize those days where you just weren’t as active as you should have been.

It’s also unclear how changing these goals will affect things like Apple Watch Competitions, as we haven’t had a chance to try this one out yet.

In the past, Competitions on Move goals could be somewhat unbalanced since they were based on the percentage completed, and not the total calories burned. This meant that somebody with a Move goal of 10 calories (the minimum value possible) could easily dominate the charts, as they’d have no problem not only meeting their goal, but doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling it.

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