Looking after our health is probably the most important thing we can do, so it's useful that Apple includes an app to achieve precisely that in iOS 13. Simply named Health, the software can track activity, monitor the food we eat, and keep a record of our sleep patterns when paired with an Apple Watch. We show you the general features of Health, so you can use it to help keep in tip-top shape.

Setting up the Health app

The first thing you'll need to do is enter your details and preferences so that Health can monitor your progress. Launch the app and tap on the profile icon in the top right corner, then select Health Profile and enter your name, date, gender and other details.

How to use Apple Health: Setting up the app

When this is completed, tap Done and ensure that the Summary tab at the bottom of the screen is selected. Tap the Edit button in the top right corner and you'll be presented with a list of activities that you can choose to be the ones Health reports on the Summary page. These include Exercise Minutes, Stand Hours, Step, Heart Rate and a wide range of others. Tap Done once you're happy with the selection.

Entering exercise data manually

If you don't have an Apple Watch or other compatible fitness tracker, you can still record your runs, walks and other sporting activities by manually entering them into Apple Health.

To do so, open the app and tap the Browse option at the bottom of the screen. Next, choose an option that matches what you want to record (Activity for example) then select a more specific category (such as Walking + Running Distance).

How to use Apple Health: Entering exercise data manually

You'll see a report of any progress you've made so far, but to enter new sessions tap the Add Data button in the top right. Now you'll be able to tell the app when you exercised and for how long, or how far. When you're done, tap Add.

Linking other apps

Apple Health is a good depository for data, but it's not the easiest to use. Thankfully, if you're already invested in another fitness app then there's a very good chance you can link them together so that the data you enter into that app will then appear in Apple Health.

How to use Apple Health: Linking apps

To do this go to Apple Health and select the Summary tab. Next, tap on your account icon in the upper right corner, then choose Apps from the Privacy section. You'll now see a list of apps installed on your device that are compatible with Apple Health. Tapping on one will show all of the different metrics that they share, any of which can be enabled or disabled via the toggle switches on the right.

Recording data with an Apple Watch or fitness tracker

The easiest way to record your workouts, steps and other activities is to use a fitness tracker or Apple Watch. These usually detect when you start exercising, meaning there's little chance of you missing out on those health goals just because you forget to enter the session into the app.

Obviously, the perfect fit is the Apple Watch, as once it's paired with your iPhone it automatically records your exertions directly into the Apple Health app. The device also features a number of health-based goals that can help you achieve your fitness aims. For more details on how this works, read our How to get fit with iPhone and Apple Watch guide.

There are many fitness trackers now on the market, making it hard to know which ones to choose. Each will connect to Apple Health differently, usually through their own dedicated apps. To be sure you're getting one compatible with iOS, read our guide to the Best fitness trackers that work with Apple's Health app.

Measuring your progress

So, now that everything is up and running (including yourself) you'll want to see how all of your efforts are turning out. This is where Apple Health shines. On opening the app, the Summary page shows you reports of the items you marked as favourites in the setup stage. There are also Highlight sections that that give you an overview of your progress and how it compares to previous weeks.

How to use Apple Health: Measuring your progress

Tapping on any of these will open up pages showing more data, with the option to view them by Day, Week, Month or Year by tapping the options along the top of the screen. Scrolling down will show how your current performance compares to previous years (assuming you've had your devices that long), while also suggesting additional apps that might help you make gains in these areas.

That's it. You're now ready to make those gains and improve your fitness. If you want to take a holistic approach, then you can also check out our Best meditation and mindfulness apps guide.