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watchOS 9 preview: A hearty upgrade for workout and sleep tracking

watchOS 9 preview: A hearty upgrade for workout and sleep tracking

Apple may have the best smartwatch around, but there are still some areas where it lags the competition, particularly in exercise and sleep tracking. With watchOS 9, the company is bringing a robust slate of Workout updates, alongside new watch faces, redesigned apps and the ability to detect sleep zones. Now that the public beta is here, we can get a first look at whether the company can close those gaps.

To install the watchOS beta, you’ll need to have an Apple Watch Series 4 or newer, as well as an iPhone running the iOS 16 beta. That means if you don’t want to risk losing your data, you might want to wait until an official release before updating.

Hearty changes in Workouts

Some of the most impactful updates are in workouts. Apple added pages that present more data when you’re logging an activity, so you can easily keep track of things like your segments and splits or elevations. Of these new screens, my favorite is the Cardio Zones view, while I found the Activity Rings page the least helpful.

It was satisfying to see where my heart rate was during a 45-minute HIIT session, and the Apple Watch displayed that information clearly. There were five zones in different colors on screen, and the one I was in was highlighted. Afterwards, I learned through the Fitness app’s new summary page that I had spent most of the time (about 22 minutes) in Zone 4, and Apple also helpfully displays the heart rate range for each zone.

watchOS 9 preview: A hearty upgrade for workout and sleep tracking

Screenshots

The Cardio view is supposed to be available for all workouts, but I didn’t see it in activities like Yoga, Dance or Cooldown. They do all support the new custom workout feature, though, which lets you create specific goals to focus on during your session. This is much more useful in distance or endurance-related activities like running, cycling, rowing or HIIT, where Apple offers suggested templates like 8 x 400m repeats, 1 mile repeats or 20 min of 20 sec / 10 sec. You’ll get haptic and audio alerts when you hit your target heart rate, distance, calories or time.

You can scroll all the way down to set up your own, but this experience is pretty inconsistent across different workout types. For some activities, you’ll have plenty of options like Pacer, Distance, Calories or Time. For others, like Open Water Swim or Rower, you’ll only see Calories and Time, along with a Custom option that lets you set specific periods of work and recovery.

Not every activity is going to be compatible with distance or pace, so this inconsistency is understandable. Just don’t expect the custom workouts feature to behave the same way for all your exercises.

Six screenshots showing the new custom workouts in the watchOS 9 beta.

Screenshots

Runners will find a lot of the watchOS 9 tools helpful, though. Apple also added new running form metrics like stride length, ground contact time, vertical oscillation and something it calls Power. That last one measures your responsive energy demand and is displayed as a number of watts. These new metrics are automatically calculated, and are only available during Outdoor Run workouts. You’ll need to be using an Apple Watch Series 6, Watch SE or newer, too.

If you tend to run or bike along the same routes, watchOS 9 can also let you race against yourself in the new Race Route feature. When you complete Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycle or Wheelchair Run Pace workouts, your iPhone will use on-device processing to group similar routes. The next time you start one of these activities, the Route view will tell you if you’re ahead or behind your typical time, how much distance is left and alert you if you go off your usual path. Apple also added a new Pacer mode that lets you set a target time to complete a distance you specify, and will then guide you to hit the required pace to meet that goal. Garmin and Samsung watches have similar features, so Apple isn’t breaking new ground here, but it’s nice to see come to watchOS.

I don’t usually bike, swim and run within one session, but for triathletes, the new Multisport workout mode makes it easier to switch between the three activities so you don’t have to fiddle with your watch. Apple also added support for Kickboard as a stroke type, and swimmers can see a SWOLF efficiency score on their summaries.

New watch faces and interface

One of the nicer things about each watchOS update is the new faces, which offer a way to refresh your device. This time, Apple not only added the ability to change the background color of existing options like Modular and X-Large, it’s also introducing new Playtime, Metropolitan and Lunar designs. The company redesigned the Astronomy screen, too, and it’s similar to the iPhone version where you can choose between views of the earth, moon or the solar system. Meanwhile, Lunar lets you pick from the Chinese, Hebrew or Islamic calendars to display around the clock.

<img src="https://mysterio.yahoo.com/api/res/1.2/TOdOrq85rV6poF1qWzRZWg--/Zmk9Zml0O3E9MTAwO3NzPTE7dz02NzU7YXBwaWQ9ZW5nYWRnZXQ-/https://s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2022-07/454b8df0-02e1-11ed-bdcf-e99e94de28f6.cf.webp" alt="Three screenshots showing, from left to right, the new Modular, Astronomy and Lunar watch faces in the watchOS 9 beta." data-uuid="0500d91e-ecfc-3d05-a419-9720ea8f0550" loading="lazy"/>

Screenshots

I never knew how much I’d appreciate having the Chinese Lunar calendar within reach until I added this face. It has Mandarin characters telling me it’s currently the fifteenth day of the sixth month, and I can use this to count how far we are from the next Lunar New Year or my grandmother’s birthday (which my family bases on the Chinese calendar).

Apple also redesigned the calendar app, making it easier to add new events from your wrist. Siri also no longer takes over your whole screen when triggered, instead appearing as an orb floating over the clock.

Because I had set up Medications on my iPhone on the iOS 16 preview, I also received an alert on watchOS 9 when it came time to take my supplement. I could easily log that I had taken my meds, skipped them or snooze the reminder.

Sleep zones and other updates

Speaking of snoozing, Apple also added sleep stage-detection to watchOS 9, using data from the accelerometer and heart rate monitor. It’ll detect when you’re awake, and distinguish between zones like REM, Core or Deep sleep. This feature is way overdue, considering Fitbit has long been able to do this with even its midrange trackers. But while I didn’t get around to testing Apple’s system in time for this preview, I look forward to seeing how it compares when I do a full review.

A screenshot and a picture showing, from left to right, a Siri symbol floating on the watchOS 9 home screen, and a Medications reminder.

Screenshot / Engadget

There are some other updates I’d like to spend more time with, too, like the additional metrics when doing a Fitness+ workout. So far, my experience with the watchOS 9 beta has been smooth, and honestly the cardio zones workout view alone has made the installation worthwhile (for a gym fiend like me, anyway). If you’re comfortable with the risk involved in running beta software, and can’t wait till a stable release to get these new features, you’ll likely enjoy what Apple has to offer today.

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‘I Did Natalie Portman’s ‘Thor’ Arm Workout For A Month’

‘I Did Natalie Portman’s ‘Thor’ Arm Workout For A Month’

I've always been self-conscious about my arms. I have broad shoulders and build muscle quickly, so I generally shied away from lifting weights in the past. An outdated refrain echoes in my head: You don't want to get *too* big and muscly. It didn't help that I was once told during a high school swim practice that I had "man shoulders"—whatever that means.

Still, when WH fitness editor Jennifer Nied asked if anyone wanted to try out Natalie Portman's arm workout from her movie Thor: Love and Thunder, in theaters July 8, I quickly volunteered. I surprised myself by how fast I said yes, as I had very limited knowledge of the movie, or Natalie's starring role as Thor. But in that moment, I wanted to try something different and revisit my relationship with training my upper body.

This was totally out of my wheelhouse. Running is my go-to exercise—but years of cross country, treadmill sprints, and looong races have taken a toll on my knees. I knew I needed to find new ways to move and make my body stronger. Why not try an A-lister's workout?

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Once I got the training regimen from Natalie's trainer Naomi Pendergast, CPT, director of RPX fitness, it was just Natalie Portman and me, grinding our planks, Arnold presses, and more for three days a week. At least that's what I imagined in my head. (Spoiler: Building Marvel-worthy arms is so much more than biceps curls.) Here's how the 30 days of *intense* arm-strength training went and what I learned along the way.

The Thor Arm Workout, From Natalie's Trainer

Let's start with the basics. And, yes, this is ~the same~ workout Natalie did with her trainer to build muscles and prep for stunts in her Marvel role. "Our typical weekly routine would consist of three strength training sessions a week and two sessions of mobility, agility, and stability work," Pendergast tells me.

"Starting five months before shooting gave us the opportunity to make sure Natalie's body was well conditioned before we upped the weights to build muscle bulk," says Pendergast. "Consistency is the most important thing in changing your shape and reaching your goals." (Fun fact: Pendergast says Natalie's an avid runner, so we had that in common.)

And Natalie was very determined. "I was lucky because Natalie is an extremely focused, hard working, and determined person so she turned up every day and gave 100 percent," Pendergast says.

Here's the exact arm routine Pendergast programmed for Natalie to hit her goal Marvel physique. It includes four parts: an upper bod warm-up, arm strength combos, cardio bursts, and a core circuit.

Upper-body warmup:

30 seconds marching arms

30 seconds lat stretch

30 seconds beast crawl

10 repetitions roll down walk outs

25 repetitions power band kneeling reverse fly

    Arm Strength Workout: (rest for 90 seconds between sets)

    Off-set push up followed by a 1 minute elbow plank (4 sets of 10 reps)

    Straight arm raise with palms up followed by 1 minute reverse plank (4 sets of 20 reps)

    Dumbbell Arnold press followed by a 1 minute side plank (4 sets of 10 reps)

    Dumbbell bicep curl followed by a power band kneeling rotation (4 sets of 12 reps)

    Dumbbell tricep press followed by 1 minute squat jump (4 sets of 12 reps)

      Cardio: 2 minutes boxing + 1 minute skipping (complete 3 rounds with 90 seconds rest in between)

        Core circuit:

        Basic abdominal crunch, feet down (1 set of 20 reps)

        Abdominal crunch, feet up (1 set of 20 reps)

        Abdominal crunch with a twist (1 set of 20 reps)

        1 minute weighted overhead arm raises (3 sets)

        The Journey

        ‘I Did Natalie Portman’s ‘Thor’ Arm Workout For A Month’

        Jewelyn Butron / Currie Engel

        Week 1: I had to get creative with how to fit the workouts into my crazy schedule. Consistency off the bat was key.

        I started doing Natalie's routine in mid-May, and I was out of town almost every weekend for various events—a college reunion, my brother's graduation, a wedding in Ireland, the list goes on. So, I had to get creative with my workouts, whether that was miming the jump rope sections, adjusting the weights, or wandering my way through hotels to find their tiny workout rooms.

        The first day of the routine was hard. And I mean really hard. Training for a Marvel role is no joke. I followed all the directions as precisely as possible, and it took me a whopping hour and 17 minutes to get through all the circuits. The first round of push-ups and one-minute planks left me shaking, and I collapsed on my mat every time the timer went off, dreading the next round.

        <img alt="thor arm workout" title="" class="lazyimage lazyload" src="https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/0623-thor3-1656065892.jpg?resize=480:*"/>

        Using 12 pound weights for the bicep curls

        Currie Engel

        I started using 10-pound weights and graduated to using 12-pound weights for the Arnold presses and bicep curls. Pendergast suggested resting for 90 seconds between each set, but I actually found that I didn't always need this long to recover and often took 60-second breaks.

        The first few workout sessions, I spent a lot of time checking my phone to make sure I was doing everything exactly right, and the whole thing seemed to take forever. I was exhausted at the end of each set, and my back sometimes hurt (I learned to stretch more and worked on my form).

        Week 2: The workouts started to feel easier, and I had enough energy leftover for my beloved cardio.

        natalie portman thor workout

        Jewelyn Butron / Currie Engel

        It didn't take long before all the exercises began to feel a little easier. Well, almost all of them. The straight arm raises continued to be a challenge. I had to adjust my weights and could never quite make it to 20 reps without taking a break.

        The four rounds of one-minute squat jumps left me hands-above-my-head gasping for air. After a particularly exhausting round of squat jumps, I began counting to help me mark how much time was passing, and realized I was doing roughly 55 per minute. To catch my breath and steady my heart rate, I'd walk in circles around the gym during the rest period.

        I also started incorporating a very quick, short three-to-five minute treadmill fast run (anywhere from 8.5 to 9 mph) into the warmup to get my heart rate up, and found that it helped wake my body up better during early morning sessions so I could mentally and physically handle the moves to come.

        I didn't stay still on my off days, either. I kept up some of my favorite regular workouts (read: cardio) like a long run on the West Side Highway or a 45-minute elliptical circuit. I did some yoga. I stretched, which felt incredible, and also was in line with Pendergast's guidance.

        Week 3: My endurance improved and my competitive nature kicked in.

        I really started noticing that my all-around stamina had improved. When I watched my form in the mirror, I noticed some definition, especially with my shoulders and biceps.

        Knowing how hard Natalie worked definitely motivated me during especially busy days or sweaty combinations that seemed never-ending. I'll be the first to admit it: I'm very competitive. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

        Week 4: I memorized the exercises and saw physical results.

        thor arm workout challenge

        Currie Engel

        A big benefit of following the same circuit each week was perfecting the moves. It took a while, but I finally didn't have to check my phone every time I switched exercises. On top of that, I increased the weights. Instead of grabbing the ten pound dumbbells, I went for the 12 pounds. The planks didn't hurt as much, either.

        By day 30, I graduated to 15 pound weights for the triceps press. I saw big gains in my cardio endurance (yes, thanks to the strength training). The squat jumps didn't knock me out the way they used to.

        My Biggest Takeaways

        thor workout challenge natalie portman arms

        Currie Engel

        This challenge pushed me mentally and physically. More than a few times my alarm would go off in the mornings, and all I wanted to do was roll back over and sleep. I'm so glad I stuck with it. Here's what I learned about myself, exercising, and my body during those 30 days.

        I didn't need to be perfect to reach my strength goals.

        I usually work out every day, but I am certainly not used to working out for nearly an hour and a half each time I step in the gym. And as I struggled to wake up extra, extra early in the mornings before work, or attempted to fit in a nighttime sesh, I had to remind myself that unlike Natalie, this is not my full-time job. I gave myself permission to skip a few exercises or cut it short to, you know, make it to work on time or finish my laundry.

        I'm a rule-follower, a planner, and a perfectionist, so that was tough. I probably missed a workout or two when life got in the way (I had to make it to a wedding one afternoon and I had to skip the last two circuits.) But I gave myself grace, keeping in mind I was doing my best. It wasn't about perfection, it was about committing to the challenge. And I still felt and saw a big difference after just 30 days.

        Sharing my progress with friends and family helped keep me accountable.

        I'd be lying if I said I always looked forward to the hardcore training sessions. Sometimes, I actually dreaded the long, tough routine. As cheesy as it sounds, I got through it thanks to accountability and support from my fam and friends.

        My family really enjoyed following along with my progress. I am the only daughter in a family of all boys, and my brothers and dad loved asking about the workout. One of my brothers also thought I was doing the workouts with Natalie, and I am sure he was heartbroken when I corrected him.

        I wanted to have new progress reports every time they checked in about my workouts. Skipping a sesh or quitting the routine altogether wasn't an option.

        I learned a lot about my body—about how it moves, and what it needs.

        thor arm workout challenge

        Forearm plank for ’Thor’ arm workout challenge.

        Currie Engel

        My body didn't need long cardio sessions every single day. My knees thanked me for more off days. My lifting fears—getting bulky or big or developing whatever "man shoulders" are—never came true.

        My body responded in ways I never expected to the new routine. In fact, I have definition in areas I struggle to tone (my tris). And I didn't just see a change in my arms, I felt it in my core, too. That's what dozens and dozens of body-shaking planks will do in a month.

        The best part is, I feel really strong, and that feels so good. It's been years since I did real-deal strength training, and I've never done a trainer-programmed routine before.

        Even now, I find myself gravitating toward those dumbbells. I definitely am not opting for the full 75-minutes arm circuits after a run, but I'm keeping some of the strength moves in my regular routine because I really, really love feeling so strong.

        Currie Engel
        Currie Engel is the associate news editor at Women's Health.

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Expert Offers Advice on Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle Before, During and After Cancer Treatment

Kristie L. Kahl: Can you explain how maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps before a diagnosis, during treatment and beyond that?

Dr. Navya Nair: Absolutely. So maintaining a healthy lifestyle is just so important in all stages, cancer prevention, and even after a diagnosis and while someone's undergoing treatment. So a healthy diet. So well balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, getting regular cardiovascular exercise, avoiding toxins like tobacco, limiting alcohol use can reduce your risk of ever getting a cancer diagnosis. So for example, we know that tobacco use is directly linked to lung cancer risk. Having a healthy BMI reduces your risk of getting endometrial cancer. So these are how some of these healthy lifestyles can prevent you from getting a cancer.

Now, you also asked how this can help once someone has a diagnosis and they're in treatment. You know, having a healthy body allows you to get through some of these really tough treatments. And, you know, I often explained to my patients that a big cancer surgeries often is like running a marathon and having a really fit body before allows you to get through that better and have less complications. And much like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, these are all things very tough on the body that having a strong body. And the other important part that I didn't talk about yet is having a healthy mind and having strong support systems outlets for stress and anxiety. In some kind of practice of reflection, whether you do yoga meditation, is mental health is just as important as physical health, especially when dealing with cancer.

Kahl: Absolutely. So from the exercise standpoint, we know exercise is good. But can you give some examples of how people can stay active because I think there's always a misperception that you know, we you need to run a mile or two miles but I think we can go simpler than that. So can you give us some examples for our patients?

Nair: Absolutely. Yes, so it's important to get a heart rate up. So however you like to do that. So for some people they like to run. Some people hate to run maybe you prefer to swim or both. Go for vigorous walks. Go for a bike ride. The goal is to get your heart rate up for 30 to 60 minutes about three to four times a week.

Kahl: Absolutely. And then similarly with diet, why is diet important when it comes to when you're in treatment, but also those long-term effects? And are there examples of the types of diets that our patients should be seeking?

Nair: So really, it's a well-balanced diet with, you know, balance of the different food groups. And certain things like if we're looking at patients, risks and outcomes related to surgery, having a healthy amount of protein in your diet improves your ability to recover from surgery. But the goal is really having a well-balanced diet and maintaining that as much as you can during and after treatment.

Kahl: Absolutely. And so to bring it all together, what is your biggest piece of advice for a patient with a gynecologic cancer who is maybe interested in making changes toward a healthier lifestyle, now that they've received a diagnosis?

Nair: I would say my biggest advice would be to pick one or two things that that you want to try to change. Don't try to change everything at once. Because it's too hard on any one person. So pick one or two things that you're interested in changing. Try to do that. It often works better when people make a change as a family unit. So if you are trying to eat healthier, or go for more regular exercise, try to make that a family activity, because it's more likely to stick if you do that together.

Transcription edited for clarity and conciseness.

6 Trampoline Exercises for Weight Loss

6 Trampoline Exercises for Weight Loss

6 Trampoline Exercises for Weight Loss

Ever jumped on a trampoline ever
since you became an adult? It is fun, isn’t it? So many of us classify
trampoline jumping to be a kid’s activity. But it is not! Working out on a
trampoline is an effective way to lose all those extra pounds and fats. Jump away,
and you’ll shape and tone your body in no time.

Many exercises, some of which are
performed with trampoline accessories, strengthen organs, improve blood
circulation levels and elevate your heart rate
You stay in constant motion when on the trampoline, which increases your
endurance levels and helps you get rid of stubborn fat.  And by the way, all this jumping and moving
your arms and legs add excitement to an otherwise dull workout. Pair up with a
friend or maybe your partner, and it would be even more fun!

So which exercises are the best to
perform on an 8ft trampoline and would you need any trampoline accessories with
it? Here are some of our favourite trampoline exercises that increase your adrenaline, elevate your
mood and make you feel so much better after the workout.

The Warm Up -
Bouncing and Stretching

Stretches are essential before and
after the workout as they prevent potential injuries. How do you do this on a
trampoline? Stretch both arms out together and bounce on an 8ft trampoline.
Initially begin by stretching your arms at the side and then take them upwards
in the air. Perform 5 to 8 reps and then try touching your toes.

Now get off the trampoline, and
use it as a supportive prop. Lie down on the ground and stretch your legs up as
high as you can. Now bring them down on the trampoline and then lift them in
the air again. Repeat.

Ensure that your legs are straight
throughout and don’t stop or rest in between.

1. Basic Jogging

Probably the simplest exercise to perform on 8 ft trampoline. Get on it and begin jogging.
Start slowly and then increase your pace after 3 to 4 minutes. When jogging, move your arms upwards and
downwards in sync with your legs. This improves the effectiveness of the
workout. Jog for another 3 minutes at a faster pace and then take a 1 minute
rest in between.  Then jog for another 3
minutes and rest. Repeat one more time.

2. Basic Bouncing

Basic bouncing is an exercise for
the newbies. Get on the trampoline and bounce your heart out! You burn calories
and reduce those pounds. When bouncing, reach as high as you can. Do 30 reps
and then take a short rest of 10 seconds. Perform 30 more bounces, and then
rest again.

3. Bounce Paired with Kicks

Great, so you’ve completed your
bouncing. You’ll now be bouncing again, but this time, you’ll be adding kicks
in between. Lift your right leg and kick as you bounce on the 8ft trampoline.
Now lift your left leg and kick again while bouncing. Continue lifting
alternate legs for at least 8 reps.

A point to note here is that this
exercise is hard and may exhaust you – so if you feel short of breath or tired,
do stop and try again the next day. But once you get the hang of this one,
you’ll increase your strength and flexibility and also burn plenty of calories.

4. Jumping Jack Bounces

Let’s spice things up a bit.
Jumping jack is a simple exercise, but when you do this on an 8ft trampoline,
it can be challenging. Get on the trampoline and perform jumping jacks you
normally do. Be sure that you stay in the middle throughout the workout. 

Jump for 30 times, and then take a
20 second break before you jump again.

5. Push-Ups

Lie down with your stomach on the
trampoline’s surface and legs extended. Now place your hands and raise yourself
upwards, engaging the core. Your body should be parallel to the surface. Bend
the elbows and lower your upper body towards the surface, but don’t let them
touch the surface. Raise your body again, and repeat.

6. Oblique Twists

Sit on the middle of the
trampoline such that your knees are bent and hands are placed on the side of
your body. Now lean backwards until you feel pressure in the core. Raise your
feet from the surface such that they form a V with your body. Remain in this
position and twist your torso to the right with your hands tapping on the right
side. Now twist all the way to the left, tapping your hands on the left side.
Continue this for at least 45 to 60 seconds.

The Cool Down

Great, so you are done exercising.
Time to cool down. Walk slowly on the trampoline until your heart rate returns
to normal. Do this for 5 minutes at least.

So there it is— a
complete workout on an 8 ft trampoline. Try it out and let us know if you
enjoyed it or not!

About Author:

Bec is a wife and mother of two
who works part-time in the childcare industry. Bec has over 20 years in
childcare and a real passion for helping children develop their motor skills.
Being a busy mum, Bec is always looking for new outdoor activities to keep her
and her family entertained and is a big fan of teaching children & how to use
trampolines.