Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

Tips and tricks for your Samsung fitness tracking app
Samsung Health: The ultimate guide
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Samsung Health is the Korean tech giant's portal into all of the health metrics you could ever want. It really comes into its own paired with Samsung's Galaxy Watch,Gear Sport or Fit2 Pro fitness tracker.

For a while, Samsung Health was largely a rebranded and streamlined version of S Health, making it a familiar place, but also a better to check in on your data. Samsung has recently updated Health to version 6.0, and there's some big changes.

It's of course compatible with Samsung fitness trackers and smartwatches on Samsung phones, but Wear users can still sync some data over from their wearables (though it's only one third-party service - Strava). It's also available on iOS, so if you've got an iPhone you get in on the action too.

Read next: Best Samsung smartwatch to buy

The Health app itself offers a decent selection of features for planning, tracking and reviewing your workouts. But it's also got some ambitious ideas about health. Like trying to connect you to a doctor from your phone. So whether you just want an easier way to talk to your physician, prepping for a marathon, or you're a weight lifter or yoga enthusiast, chances are Samsung Health has a tool for you.

Here's your guide to getting the most out of it.

Measure your vitals

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

Like most fitness and health platforms, you'll have to enter some basic information about yourself. You know, like birth date, weight, height and gender. But you'll also get to choose your activity level.

There are four: Sedentary, somewhat active, active and very active. This helps Samsung Health to make sure that quest to get fitter and healthier is best suited for your current activity level.

Health breaks down your health tracking into a number of categories. Right at the top you'll see your step goal, which can be customized to your liking. You'll also see active time followed by exercise, food, sleep, floors, weight, heart rate, stress, water and weight management.

Below that, there's a "Manage Items" option that'll let you add even more tracking. There are even advanced metrics like oxygen saturation, blood glucose, blood pressure and caffeine. Some of those metrics, like glucose and pressure, naturally need third-party devices to track - though you can manually record them too. Sleep tracking requires a device like the Fit2 Pro or the Galaxy Watch.

Oxygen saturation is something you can track with your Galaxy phone, just put your finger on the sensor on the back. It'll ask your activity level at the time and then log it. Stress tracking is done by measuring heart rate and SpO2, doing some math and then telling you how stressed you are. This is also one of the newer features introduced on the Galaxy Watch.

As for exercise tracking, there are a plethora of exercises to choose from. There's the big stuff you expect, like running and cycling and swimming, but there's also stuff you might not expect, like burpee test. There are also specific things, like planks and front arm raises.

Discover Programs and more

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

In Samsung world, training plans are called Programs. There are two ways to get to programs. The first way is from the home screen. Head down to "Manage Items" and then scroll down to the "Programs" section. Tap "Find more programs" and you'll be whisked away to a screen where you can choose from a number of them. You can also head to the "Discover" tab at the bottom, which outlines a number of programs you might be interested in. You can even add your interests so that Samsung better knows what to recommend to you.

In the Programs section, there are programs chosen for you up at the top. Below that, there's a section for new programs to check out. Then you'll see programs split up into sections based on what your goals are. There's a disease management section that includes options for diabetes management, for example. There's also weight loss, muscle building, balance training, endurance training and running. At the bottom, you'll see programs by provider, including WellDoc and Keep.

Be warned about the partners though, as clicking on them can sometimes take you to a website that isn't in your home language.

Regardless, back in the app you'll get a quick an in-depth overview of what the program is about. It'll tell you how many workouts it is, how many days, weeks or months it'll take, how difficult it is, how long the average workout is, whether you need specific equipment, and the category it lives in (for instance, building muscle or improving cardio).

Below the in-depth overview you'll see the workout schedule on a mini calendar so that you get a visual look at how long the workout will take. For example, the toned body program requires a workout every other day for a week.

If all that checks out, you can choose the start and end date of the program and have at it. Your Samsung Health dashboard will be updated with that mini calendar, showing you when your next workout in the program is. Click on it and it'll give you full instructions on how to complete your workout. If written instructions aren't your bag, you can easily click "download", which'll show you a little GIF of that specific workout. When you're done, you just click "mark as done" and move on.

Don't forget to delve into the Discover tab. Not only are there programs for you to partake in, but there are health articles to read, health devices to check out and more.

Set goals for basic workouts

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

Even if you're not working towards a big marathon or looking to lose weight or build balance, 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 - or if you hurriedly skipped past everything - all you have to do is choose your metric in the home dashboard, tap the three dots in the upper right corner and select "set target."

Click on the metrics and you'll be taken to a more specific tracking screen. There are two categories in these tracking screens: there's track and trends. Track will give you all the information you need to know today, and it will even tell you which device the metric came from. Trends will show you your metrics over a number of days or weeks - it'll also point out when you hit your goals.

Each of these screens, of course, has specific metrics for each category. For instance, food tracking will recommend how many carbs, fats and proteins you should eat in the day. The rested section will show you sleep consistency. The activity section will give you calories burned, distance and the longest time you've been active.

Read this: The best wearables for real-time coaching

By the way, you can also set your targets for other metrics. For instance, you can set a blood pressure or blood glucose target in those corresponding screens. You can also set targets for caffeine and water intake. We'd recommend setting as many targets as possible so that you can use Samsung Health to get as full of a picture of your health as you can. All you have to do is click on those metrics, which are all listed down in the dashboard and, once again, click the vertical three dots in the top right corner.

If you're looking for some guidance on where you should set your targets, be sure to click "more info" in those goal screens. They'll let you know useful stats, like that adults are recommended to do 150 minute of moderate-intensity activity a week and 75 minutes of vigorous intensity.

Set your pace

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

When you're doing a cardio-based workout in Samsung Health, like running, cycling, or walking, you can choose the type of target you want to work towards. It can be distance, duration, calories, route if you're cycling, or even just a basic workout.

However, when you're running you get a special target: Pace. And when you choose a pace target, you'll then be given several options. These include "Light walking coach," "Brisk walking coach," "Light jogging coach," "Light running coach," "Power walking coach," "Calorie burning coach," "Endurance jogging coach," "Endurance running coach," "Speed increasing coach," and "Speed endurance coach."

Each of these paces increases in difficulty. There's a little bar below the target that'll show you how hard it'll get, colored in with green, yellow, red, and dark red to indicate how your pace will shape out.

If you're more of a hands-on type and want to create your own pace, you can do that to. All you have to do is tap the left arrow until you get to "Add pace-setter." Here, you'll have to choose between two workout types: burn fat or cardio. Below that, you'll see how your choice affects the pace graph.

The pace graph shows you the intensity of the workout, from warm up to cool down. A fat burning face, for instance, will see you warm up for five minutes, workout for 20, then cool down for five minutes. That workout will be a consistent pace, set at 6mph. Cardio, on the other hand, will see you slowly increase a mile an hour every three to five minutes until you hit 9mph. Then, you'll decrease your miles per hour by one every minute until your done.

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

Once you choose the type of pace, you can choose your target type. Do you want to run for a distance or a duration? And within that target, how long or how far are you aiming to run? There are some options laid out, but you can also add your own.

At the very bottom, you'll see three metrics: Estimated intensity, maximum speed and average speed. These are Samsung's guesses for how this pace will work out for you. For instance, the intensity could be four out of five fire emojis (seriously, it uses fire emojis to measure intensity). Your maximum speed could be 8.5mph, and your average speed could be 4.9mph.

Sorry cyclists, you don't get pace setting - but you do get route targets. All you have to do is choose route target as your target in the cycling screen, then click "import" to add GPX files (GPS data) right there into the app.

Monitor food

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

Like most other fitness tracking apps, Health will let you manually input food. The app will also let you know what a good target is. For instance, it can recommend that your daily diet consists of 55% of carbs, 25% of fat, and 20% protein.

However, where Samsung Health differs is the power of Bixby Vision. Point your Samsung Galaxy phone camera at your food, let Bixby scan it, and then it'll add it to your log. All the nutritional information will be noted in Samsung Health.

If you want even more detail, it can do that too. It can break down recommendations into stuff like fiber, potassium, Vitamin A and C, calcium Iron, sodium, and saturated fat. Next to these metrics, it compares how much you've actually ingested versus how much it recommends.

To add food via Bixby Vision, you're going to need to pop open your camera. Click on the Bixby Vision icon and then point at your food. Little food icons will pop up. Choose the one that matches the best and then click "food tracker". You can then add it to your food log from there.

Read this: The best food tracking apps and wearables

To add food the old fashioned way, click on the Food section in the home dashboard. Then choose your meal, from breakfast to lunch to dinner to snacks. From there, you can just search for your meals or create your own.

Once you click a meal you'll get to add your food, which you can do in one of three ways. You can search for food, choose from a menu of your favorite meals (if you've used Samsung Health before) or create your own food in the "My Food" section. Here, you'll be able to add the nutrients for your food manually. This is especially good for food brands that might not show up in the search.

Once you add your food, Health will automatically feed it into its system. If you forget to add something, you can always add it later. And remember, once you make a meal, you can easily re-add meals if you eat the same thing more than once. Just hit the + icon. Of course, your caloric intake will be placed in your dashboard for you to see, and it'll measure it up against your goals so that you can keep things in line.

Social motivation

Fitbit and others have seen great success with the addition of social features, like communities and communal challenges. So why wouldn't Samsung add a little friendly competition to its health ecosystem?

The "Together" tab is where all of this goes down. First, you'll be greeted by a big ol' steps leaderboard. This will show you how all Samsung Health users are doing in their step count, broken down by your age group, all users and friends. It'll show you the average and where you rank in the pile, which in turn becomes added motivation for getting out and walking.

Below that, it'll show you your rank. We all start out as newbies, but you can level up by challenging your friends to step battles. There's also a button next to that to check out your friends, and another button next to that to check out the current challenges. You choose the target goal and who you want to take on. We wish you could extend this to running, cycling and even caffeine in take and better sleep, but at least it's one way to keep yourself fit and motivated. One note: To activate this feature, you will have to verify your number.

Below the step count leader board, you'll see the current worldwide step challenge Samsung has going on.

Ask an Expert

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

The most ambitious feature in Samsung Health is nestled away in the "Experts" tab. Basically, this allows you to get a video call with a doctor, giving you a telehealth experience.

This is a Samsung partnership with Amwell, with all doctors being based in the US and specially trained in telehealth programs. To get started, you just have to enroll by inputting your health insurance information.

Samsung says this feature is covered by "many top health plans" in the US, China and Korea. It can even refill your prescriptions at local pharmacies if you need to. Once you do input your insurance information, you'll be given a deluge of information about potential doctors and clinics you can video call. For instance, you can see the price of a visit (Samsung says these are "affordable"), as well as ratings for both doctors and clinics.

The service is available 24/7, and you won't need to make a reservation or appointment either. You just open it call, choose a doctor or clinic and start it up. These doctors, by the way, come in a range of specialities. If you need a doctor that specializes in psychology, nutrition, cardiology or more you're covered. Samsung also promises that your health information is secure and confidential, and that the service is HIPAA compliant.

While it's cool to automatically connect to a doctor remotely whenever you need, it's also worth noting that, for many people, doctors are very personal choices based on comfortability and cost. You may have a doctor you trust explicitly on your current health care plan, which may make it difficult for you to check in with another doctor - or even switch insurance to use this service.

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

If the service is compatible with your insurance though, and you don't mind talking to another doctor every once in a while, this service is a nice bonus feature that not many other fitness platforms are offering.

There's also a symptom checker in the Experts tab that you can use to self diagnose yourself. This information is provided by Babylon. You'll be asked a series of questions in an AI chat. It's a pretty comprehensive set of questions, going through your medical history and all possible symptoms. The options you have to choose from are fairly robust as well.

Once you're done, you'll get a little health report. We're not exactly sure how accurate this is. We had a cough after some international travel and it told us bronchitis was what we likely had. You can also then discuss your possible condition with an online doctor in the app.

Connecting apps

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

Samsung Health can connect to third-party apps, and that number has grown considerably since the app first arrived. You can take a look at all these apps by heading to the "Manage Items" section, scrolling down to "Featured Apps" and clicking on "Find more apps".

Once you do that, it'll take you to what's basically an app store. Here, you'll be able to view and choose from a whole bunch of apps divided into a bunch of categories. These categories are fitness, nutrition, rest, healthcare, general, and other.

These apps are also labeled with the ways they can help you. For instance, Under Armour Record is labeled with exercise, sleep, sleep stages and step count. These are a good way of letting you know exactly what an app can do for you, taking out some of the guess work in downloading something, signing up and then finding out it can't do what you need.

If you want to download an app, you just have to click on it and Samsung Health will zoom you over to the Google Play Store, where you can download it to your phone.

Once you do that, and sign in to the app, you'll be able to add a good most of them to your Samsung Health dashboard. Health will even prompt you and let you know that you have a new option to add. Not all partner apps can be added to the dashboard, like Hydro Coach, but they can be added to the tiles down at the bottom of the dashboard.

From here, you can download many more apps to make your Health dashboard into a unified hub.

Connect Strava to Samsung Health

Samsung used to connect to a whole bunch of partner services, but as of September 2018 it's removed all of them save for Strava. Huge bummer, we know.

If you'd like to connect Strava, head to the Home Dashboard and click on the three dots in the upper right corner. Select "Settings" and then scroll down to "Connected Services." Here, you'll see Strava. Click on it and get connecting.

Connecting accessories

Samsung Health: The ultimate guide to getting fit with Samsung's app

Samsung Health doesn't limit you to Samsung products to keep track of your health. If you want to see which devices you can sync to Samsung Health, go to the Discover tab and click "Products". Scroll down and click "Accessories".

You'll be taken to a new menu that's separated by device type. These include fitness trackers, bike sensors, blood glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, smartwatches and weighing scales. The only two categories limited to Samsung products are fitness trackers and smartwatches. However, everything else has a good selection of niche devices you can select.

You'll be able to register your device to Samsung Health from these device pages. You'll also be given a link to the website, perhaps to purchase the device for future inclusion into your Samsung Health devices. Most of these devices use either Bluetooth or ANT+. There's not a lot of information in these pages, but it will sometimes give you general tips if you need them.

To connect devices to Samsung Health, you can simply select "Scan for Accessories", which will automatically search for compatible devices near your device.