Owning an Apple Watch is great for getting active. That’s because the biggest pillars of the smartwatch’s experience are the Apple Watch rings, which are meant to motivate you to move every day with visual progress updates. But what does it mean to actually close all your rings, and what happens when you do so every day?
There are several fixtures in place to help you close your Apple Watch rings. Not only will your Apple Watch send you notifications encouraging you to make progress, but the Fitness app also offers badge incentives. When you achieve monthly goals or close your Apple Watch rings with consistency, you’re rewarded with a new badge for your virtual collection.
I love a reward, even if it’s just a little icon in a library. So when I learned I could gain up to four badges in exchange for a perfect week — 7 days straight of closing all three rings — I set out on a mission. I needed to reach my designed thresholds for active calories burned, minutes of exercise and hours with at least one minute of standing.
As someone who’s generally active, I had at least a little bit of confidence in myself for the challenge. And while I ultimately succeeded, some things definitely surprised me.
Closing the rings becomes an obsession
I’ve been tracking my Apple Watch rings ever since I’ve owned an Apple Watch, but I never understood the obssession with closing them until I started a streak. After the first few days of closing all my rings, the gamification of maintaining a streak set in.
Wanting to close my rings led me to get more movement in than I normally would. For example, when I was in the airport one of the days during the week, I paced around the terminal while waiting to board instead of sitting at a cafe.
Similarly, closing my stand ring meant I didn’t want to spend hours inactive. When I got the nudge to stand 10 minutes be the end of the hour, I would get up, even while I was working or watching TV. On the weekend days, I kept my naps shorter than usual, too.
Downtime isn't really an option
While getting more active is usually a good thing, recovery and rest is important. The incentives to close my rings don’t accommodate much down time. Whether I've had an intense workout, suffered from a poor night of sleep, or might be getting sick, recovery is important.
I found that if I don’t get at least 30 minutes of real exercise each day, I don’t stand a chance at reaching my move goal. That meant that I had to make time for workouts, even on days with a packed schedule.
Ultimately, I’m glad that I had the motivation to workout every day for the week, and took as much care as possible to mix up my modalities. I did a Peloton Bike ride one day, an Apple Fitness Plus yoga class the next, a Lululemon Studio barre class the day after, and bunch of long outdoor walks.
But I know that there are some days I need to take a rest to let my body recovery and prevent injury. Luckily, Oura Ring recently made Apple Watch complications available, so I can now see my readiness score on my Apple Watch face at a glance.
Next stop: Perfect month?
Once I earned the perfect move week, perfect exercise week, perfect stand week and perfect stand week badges, the next frontier is a perfect month badge. This means closing all of my rings every day for an entire month.
Now that I’m on a streak, I’m going to attempt to complete a perfect month. That said, I might lower my ring goals to better position myself for success. I'm more likely to keep my motivation to earn a perfect month (while preventing injury) with thresholds that better suit my busy lifestyle. I don't want my only personality trait to be closing my Apple Watch rings, after all.