In recognition of Heart Month in the U.S., Apple has announced that it will be offering a new Apple Watch Activity Challenge along with a series of new Today at Apple sessions that are focused on monitoring and improving cardiovascular health, in order to encourage and educate healthier and more active lifestyles.
The new Apple Watch Activity Challenge will reward users with a special badge and iMessage stickers for closing their Exercise Ring seven days in a row between February 8–14, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
However, Apple notes that the Activity Challenge will only be available to users running the latest versions of iOS and watchOS — 12.1.3 and 5.1.3, respectively.
Users will need to ensure that they’ve updated in order to participate, and unfortunately will exclude anybody who is still using the original Apple Watch.
Cardiovascular disease takes many forms and some are fully preventable through lifestyle changes like increased physical activity and better nutrition. It’s always great to see patients make those positive changes, especially with the help of Apple Watch.Sumbul Desai, MD, Apple Vice President of Health
In New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, Apple will also be hosting Heart Health with Apple, a series of special Today at Apple sessions that will feature special guests including celebrity fitness trainer Jeanette Jenkins, Apple VP of Health, Sumbul Desai, MD, and American Heart Association CEO, Nancy Brown, along with other employees from Apple’s fitness and health teams.
The sessions will include a discussion about heart health along with the opportunity to participate in a new Health & Fitness Walk program co-created with Jeanette Jenkins. Only one session will be held in each of the three cities; users interested in attending can register on Apple’s Today at Apple page.
While Apple has promoted better health and fitness through Activity Challenges almost since the Apple Watch was first released, this year the company is also putting a stronger emphasis on hearth health through awareness and early diagnosis of conditions such as Atrial fibrillation (AFib), with new features on the Apple Watch Series 4 able to identify irregular heart rhythms, alerting users of indications that would suggest a visit to a doctor’s office is needed. As Apple notes, AFib is an extremely common form of irregular heart rhythm that often goes untreated and can ultimately result in stroke.
Apple continues to receive letters from customers who explain Apple Watch has helped them identify heart conditions, seek medical treatment, lose weight and get more active.Apple
The new heart monitoring features on the Apple Watch have been credited with improving health and even saving lives. Many users have reported that their Apple Watch provided early notifications of potentially life-threatening heart conditions, in many cases among younger users where no other symptoms had presented themselves; the heart sensors on the Apple Watch have resulted in discoveries of not only AFib, but also hyperthyroidism, blood clots, and even rare congenital heart conditions that could otherwise go undiagnosed.
Although Heart Month is also recognized in other countries such as Canada and the U.K., it would appear that Apple’s is focusing primarily on the American Heart Month in the U.S., with the Today at Apple sessions being held only in three U.S. cities. It’s unclear, however, whether the new Activity Challenge will be available for Apple Watch users in other countries. Apple’s ECG app is also still awaiting regulatory approval outside of the U.S., limiting the wider availability of Apple’s newest diagnostic tool.