Tips and tricks for your Samsung fitness tracking app
Samsung S Health is dead. Long live Samsung Health. The company rebranded its fitness platform this past April as it introduced its new Galaxy S8 phones. The app is a little more straightforward than its predecessor, with some small improvements, but it’s generally as familiar as ever.
It’s also a lot better, rolling together a bunch of great features to help you get fit. Last year the platform expanded on Android, and there’s growing integration with third-party activity tracking apps from the likes of Nokia, Strava, Under Armour and more.
Health is compatible with all Samsung devices, from the well-known likes of the Gear S3 to the new Gear Sport, and where all your data will live. Android Wear users can still sync some data from their wearables, but only through a select few third-party services, which we’ll touch on later.
The Samsung Health app also offers a decent selection of features for planning, tracking and reviewing your workouts. If you’re a beginner runner prepping for a marathon, weight lifter or yoga enthusiast, chances are Samsung Health has a tool for you along with helpful tips to stay active.
Here’s how to use Samsung Health to its full potential.
Measure your vitals
Just as we recommend with Fitbit and Garmin Connect, customising your info will help get you the most accurate training data – and make more of the experience.
Samsung Health isn’t as comprehensive as the other two platforms but it does let you enter heart rate from your wearable or mobile device (if you’re using a Samsung phone with a heart rate sensor it will let you use the one on the back). There’s also an oxygen saturation monitor which measures heart rate to determine the concentration of oxygen in your blood.
Stress, blood pressure and blood glucose are other data points you can manually enter or use heart rate tracking to glean information. Plus, if you have a third-party device that can obtain that information, you can plug it into Samsung Health as well.
Create training plans
To create a training plan, head to ‘Manage Items’ right down under the dashboard. You’ll find a selection of training programs for running, which is in a much easier place to find than before, where it was buried in a menu. You can pick from ‘Baby Steps to 5K’, ‘Run 5K’, ‘First attempt at 10K’ and ‘Run10K’.
All pretty self-explanatory, and by tapping on one you’ll be told how many weeks you’ll need to reach the end, and the total number of workouts that will be involved. This is where you can choose the start date for the program and which days of the week you want to work out on.
Tip: Tap ‘View Workout Schedule’ before adding your program to see exactly what the breakdown will look like. You’ll be able to see which days you’ll be running on, how far you’ll be running on each, and generally get an idea of how your routine will progress over the allocated time.
Once added, you’ll then have your workout program visible on your dashboard, showing you the day’s plan (which may just be a rest day) and what upcoming days you have workouts scheduled on.
It would be nice to have more plans to choose from here, especially for cycling and other activities, but if you’re aiming for a 10K run in a few months time, the Samsung Health app can be handy for keeping you on schedule.
Set goals for basic workouts
Even if you’re not working towards a big marathon, you can set yourself goals for activity, eating and sleep.
You may be prompted to do this when you first set up the app, but if not, just click one of the three goals circles in the dashboard. The green running man is for being active, the blue fork and knife are for eating healthier and the purple crescent moon is to feel more rested. Click on them and you’ll be taken to a more specific goal screen. In the corner, hit “more” and you’ll be able to edit your goal – adults are recommended to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, and 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity.
For your eating goal, it’s a case of choosing your target daily calorie goal, and we’d recommend also setting up a water intake goal too, which can be done as a separate tile on the dashboard either with Samsung’s own hydration tracker or a third-party one.
Thirdly, the sleep goal lets you select a target bed time and wake-up time, which, like the other three, will then be displayed on your dashboard each day.
Set your pace
When it comes to doing workouts, be it running, cycling or walking, you have the option to choose what type of target you want to work towards. This might be distance, duration, a specific route, or a number of calories to burn.
When running, you can also choose to work to a pace, and if you do, you’ll see there’s a selection of different paces, from ‘Light walking coach’ to ‘Speed endurance coach’, and for each a description of how intense they are.
However, you should also know that you can set a custom pace – just tap click the left arrow in the center until the ‘Add pace-setter’ option arrives. From there you can customise your workout with distance, duration, and even whether you’re looking for a cardio workout or to burn fat specifically. You can then give it a name and then add it to your list of pace setters.
When it comes to cycling, also know that you can select a ‘Route target’ from the menu of workouts and import GPX files that will then show in the app.
Like most other fitness apps, Health will let you manually input food. The app will also let you know what a good target is, based on your personal stats and how much you exercise, or you can set your own.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner options are available, as well as a range of snacks. After you specify what kind of food and the portion you had, Health automatically adds these calories to your day’s consumption. If you forgot to add something, edit at any time by changing the date and time to when you had the meal – or add on the meal itself. Also, once you add a meal, it will remain listed so you can easily hit the + icon when you want to add another portion, saving you searching for it again.
All of this will help ensure you don’t overdo it, which is especially helpful if you’re trying to lose weight, or on a diet plan for marathon training and trying to reach a caloric intake goal. As you add food, you’ll see your total calorie intake for the day displayed on your dashboard, so long as you’ve enabled the food tile.
It’s great motivation and more fun knowing you’re not alone in trying to stay active, so it’s no surprise Samsung has added a little friendly competition to its app. Fitbit and others have seen great success with the addition of communities and communal challenges, and Samsung Health lets you set targets with friends, check their statuses and compete.
You’ll see ‘Together’ along the top of the dashboard. Head into there and you’ll immediately see a leaderboard graph showing how your average step count compares to people in your age group. Tap on ‘My age group’ and it will switch to show how you compare with your connected friends, and again to see how your fare against all other users.
That’s neat, but better is what’s below: Challenges. Here you can set up individual step challenges against friends, choosing the target goal and who you want to take on. We wish you could compete on more things than just steps, but at least it’s one way to encourage yourself to keep fit.
Ask an Expert
This is the one big new feature in Samsung Health, nestled away in the ‘Experts’ tab. Basically, you get a video call with a doctor where you can ask questions and such things. It’s covered by “many top health plans” in the US, China and Korea and can even refill your prescriptions at local pharmacies.
Now, Samsung isn’t exactly creating some kind of virtual hospital here. Instead, they’re partnering with American Well to provide this service. You’ll have to register with them first, and then choose your doctor, and then just call them up. The service is apparently available 24/7, and you won’t have to make a reservation or appointment either.
While it’s cool to automatically connect to your doctor remotely, it’s a little difficult seeing many people actually using this. Doctors are, of course, very personal choices based on comfortability and cost, and it might be difficult to switch services just so you can use Samsung Health to connect to them. Either way, it’s a neat service that’s there if you’re interested.
It’s already been mentioned that Samsung Health can connect to third-party apps, and that number has grown considerably since the app arrived. You can access ‘Partner apps’ by tapping the ‘More’ button at the top right of the dashboard. That opens a menu where you can browse through the partner apps, and hitting the download button will take you to the Play Store.
Afterwards, you can add the various apps to your dashboard (Health even gives you a little prompt). Not all partner apps can be added, but some, such as Hydro Coach, can be allocated a tile. Obviously you’ll need to have an account and be logged into the apps for any data to show on the dashboard.
From here, you can download many more apps to make your Health dashboard into a unified hub.
While you may notice that Fitbit, Strava and some other apps aren’t available to add to the dashboard, you can still integrate them to share some information. For example, you can connect Fitbit to share sleep data, while Strava can share some of your exercise data. Misfit does both.
Now, this is important if you’re an Android Wear user who wants to have that precious tracked information sent from their wearable to Samsung Health, but bear in mind you’re limited here by whichever app you use.
You’re limited to Fitbit, Jawbone, Microsoft Health, Misfit, Runkeeper and Strava. To add these services, you’ll have to click the ‘More’ option up in the right corner, then click ‘Settings’ then scroll to ‘Connected Services’. Here, you’ll be able to add these services into Samsung Health. It’s worth noting a lot of the data won’t move freely between platforms. For example, there’s some granular Strava data and Fitbit sleep data that won’t show up. Either way, it’s a good idea to keep ’em connected for continuity sake.
…and accessories, too
Samsung Health doesn’t just rely on your Samsung products to keep track of your health. You can also tap into Bluetooth and ANT+ accessories to expand your understanding of your health. To do so, just click the ‘More’ tab in the corner and click ‘Accessories’.
You’ll be greeted to what seems like a never-ending list of things you can connect to. They’re broken into categories. Activity trackers (only Samsung ones) are at the top, with bike sensors, blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, smartwatches (Samsung only, again), and scales following.
This is where you’ll be able to connect to services. It also doubles as a place that lets you know which devices you can use if you’re interested in one of those metrics. You’ll get a sparse information page about each accessory, general tips about how to use it and a link to the product website if you’re in the mood for a purchase.