The Apple Watch Activity app is one of the most valuable features in Apple's popular smartwatch. It's not exactly scientific in its measurements of steps taken, miles traveled, calories burned, heart rate or minutes spent exercising, but it does make folks who use the app pay more attention to all of these things. And that, for most people, encourages a healthier lifestyle.
Anyone who owns a fitness tracker, and who uses it regularly, understands that the real value of the wearables is in measuring fitness levels over a period of days, weeks or months, and then increasing goals to challenge themselves to be more active.
Apple Watch Exercise goal of 30 minutes per day
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a set of online recommendations for the amount of exercise adults should receive each week. From WHO:
"Adults aged 18 to 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity … There are multiple ways of accumulating the total of 150 minutes per week. The concept of accumulation refers to meeting the goal of 150 minutes per week by performing activities in multiple shorter bouts, of at least 10 minutes each, spread throughout the week then adding together the time spent during each of these bouts: e.g. 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 times per week."
Can you increase Apple Watch Activity app's Exercise goal?
Apple presumably got the idea to set the Watch Activity app's Exercise goal at 30 minutes from the WHO fitness guidelines. And that makes sense. However, though you can boost the app's Move goals, or the amount of "active calories" you hope to burn each day, you cannot modify or increase the Exercise goal. I've increased my Move goals many times since I started using an Apple Watch, and 800 calories is my "sweet spot" — I typically hit it between four and seven days a week. But it frustrates me that I can't increase my Exercise goal, and based on a number of threads I found online, I'm not alone.
I'm sure Apple is planning some significant enhancements to the Activity app in future software versions, and hopefully the Exercise goal gets some much needed attention. In the meantime, you can easily send Apple a request to let you increase your Exercise goal, using the company's online Apple Watch feedback page. The entire process took me less than two minutes.
Sending a feature request won't necessarily influence Apple (I picture a room full of chimpanzees cackling madly in front of iMacs as they peruse the various feedback submissions), but it certainly can't hurt.