Hey, Apple – The Activity App Needs Rest Days Like Right Now

My friend Gedeon Maheux wrote yesterday about how he would love for Apple’s Activity app to start offering rest days as part of its goal for helping users becoming more healthy over time.

Contrary to what the folks on Apple’s Activity team may tell you, this isn’t actually healthy. It’s important to give your body (and mind) a break to recover and rebuild every now and then. Which is why iOS desperately needs to build in the concept of rest days into its Activity app.

Let’s just set aside the fact that the Activity app doesn’t even allow you to keep your streaks alive if you become sick or injured. That’s bad enough. But not to be able to give myself a much-needed break after many months of filling my rings is a poor decision on Apple’s part. I had really hoped iOS 13 would introduce Rest Days or Rain Checks or something that would allow us to take a day or two off a month and keep streaks alive, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The concept is simple – For every perfect month of activity award I complete, give me one rest day that I can use at any time to take an activity break and recuperate. Over time they would accrue like vacation days and I could even apply them for actual vacations so I don’t have to worry about filling my rings when I’m laying on the beach or waiting in line at Disney World.

I couldn’t agree more. One of the Activity awards I am most proud of achieving is my Longest Move Streak, which I let lapse at 1,000 consecutive days on December 31, 2018. I ended it for several reasons, and one of the biggest ones was ending the streak on my terms, and not losing it due to a sick day. You’ll enjoy the irony here: on January 2nd, 2019, I got the flu and was so weak I barely moved, aside from the frequent trips to the restroom to throw up.

So yeah, if I hadn’t ended my streak on my terms, just two days later I would have had it ended anyway.

A system for rest days would have saved my bacon if I had continued my streak. In fact, another streak I have maintained was saved by the app’s inclusion of rest days. I currently have 1,397 day streak going in Pedometer++. The system “Underscore” David Smith created for Pedometer++ (and Activity++) for rest days is well-balanced, and useful. From the settings screen of Pedometer++:

When enabled, activity streaks will not be broken by a single day missed after six consecutive days of reaching your goal.

I like this system. You have to earn the rest day, but it isn’t an arduous amount to earn it. You could conceivably take one day off each week and maintain a streak. It’s really similar to the idea of a Sabbath — a day of rest. And, of course, you don’t have to use it. But it doesn’t carry over and stack up, as Ged wants for vacations.

Either way, rest days are important for everyone, and sorely needed in Apple’s approach to healthy living in the Activity app. While I still try to complete my Move ring every day, I don’t sweat it if I just need a rest from it now that I’ve sealed away my Longest Move Streak at 1,000 days. For those still striving to keep that streak going, I hope Apple gives them a break with rest days in a future update.