Samsung S Health is dead. Long live Samsung Health. The company rebranded its fitness platform in April this year, presumably just to make it a bit more straightforward, but beyond some other small improvements, this is still the familiar app. The S always felt a bit redundant anyway, didn't it?
Names aside, Samsung's platform is better than ever, rolling together a bunch of great features to help you get fit. Last year the platform was made available on Android, while there's also some integration with third-party activity tracking apps from Withings, Strava and more.
Health is compatible with all Samsung devices such as the Gear S3 where connected wearables will automatically sync data; Android Wear users can still sync some data from their wearables, but only through select 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.
Create training plans
Under 'Manage items', found by tapping the top-right menu icon on the dashboard, you can find a selection of training programs for running (yeah, you're forgiven if you didn't find it until now). You can pick from 'Baby steps to 5K', 'Run 5K', 'First attempt at 10K' and 'Run 10K'. 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, head into the options icon at the top right of the dashboard, where you'll see 'Goals' along the top. Tap it and you'll see three of them: 'Be more active', 'Eat healthier' and 'Feel more rested'. The first lets you choose how many active minutes per day you want to set as your target – adults are recommended to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, and 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity.
Read this: The best wearables for real-time coaching
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 'Add' at the top right and 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, Jawbone 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.
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 options 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. There aren't a lot, and it's worth adding that not all data can move freely between the platforms. For example, you'll have some more granular fitness data in Strava that won't be shown in Samsung Health – and same for sleep with Fitbit. However, if you do happen to use these other platforms regularly, and also use Samsung Health, it's a good idea to make sure they're connected so you don't get short changed on those daily goals.
To connect them, tap on the options icon at the top right of the dashboard, then hit Settings. Then look down to 'Connected services' and tap it, at which point you'll see a list of available connected services, each describing what data will be shared.