This is my favorite Apple Watch fitness feature you're probably not using

A photo of the Apple Watch Ultra
(Image credit: Future)

For the most part, every Apple Watch user knows the device is a great tool for tracking activity of all kinds. Seriously, with dedicated tracking for dozens of different sports, there’s no shortage of inspiration to get moving.

As a big believer in closing my Apple Watch rings — I even closed them every day for an entire week — we could all use a little extra motivation sometimes. That’s why I started paying attention to the underrated limited-edition challenges feature in the Fitness app. 

Most recently, I earned the Earth Day Challenge badge on my Apple Watch Ultra. This challenge required me to do any workout for 30 minutes or more, either with the Apple Watch’s native fitness tracking or with any of the compatible third-party Apple Watch apps.

Completing limited-edition challenges will earn you badges that, as the name implies, are only accessible for a brief period of time. Some challenges, such as the Lunar New Year challenge, grant you a few weeks for completion. Others, like the International Women’s Day Challenge, are only available for one day. You can check for new limited-edition challenges in either the Activity app on your Apple Watch or in the Fitness app on your iPhone.

A little gamification goes a long way 

Apple Watch Ultra badges

(Image credit: Future)

In most cases, the mission of these challenges is to exercise for a certain amount of time, usually between 20 and 30 minutes. But some, like the Yoga Day Challenge, require you to track a specific activity to earn the badge.

You should’ve seen me grooving along to an Apple Fitness Plus dance workout to get my International Dance Day Challenge reward — it might’ve looked like I have two left feet, but I appreciated switching up my normal workout routine.

If anything, it’s a fun excuse to try new sport types. You should’ve seen me grooving along to an Apple Fitness Plus dance workout to get my International Dance Day Challenge reward — it might’ve looked like I have two left feet, but hey, I appreciated switching up my normal workout routine.

So, not only is this a good way to step outside of your comfort zone in terms of activities, but it might nudge you to get active on a day you didn’t plan on exercising, too. A little gamification goes a long way, after all.

Once you earn a badge, it takes a permanent place in your awards library. Your awards library is also where you can track badges for your monthly challenges, movement records and sport-specific achievements. Even if you switch to a new Apple Watch, such as the Apple Watch Series 8, your badges stay with you. Mine date back to 2019. 

But in the 4-ish years of my Apple Watch activity, the badges for limited-edition challenges remain my favorite lesser-known feature and source of inspiration.

That said, there are good Apple Watch running features you should try regardless of badges, as well as other ways to make the most of using your Apple Watch

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Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.