Amar Sagoo

16 April 2024

Introducing Exercised

Like many people, I like to have an idea of whether I’m phsically active enough to maintain my health. I used to rely on my phone’s automatic step counting, with the well-known (and in my case aspirational) goal of 10,000 steps per day in mind.

However, when I went swimming – one of the more conscious efforts I’ve made to stay fit – my phone would never find out, sitting oblivious in a locker while I breathlessly flailed up and down the pool.

A smartwatch can be with you more of the time, but I’d have to remember to start recording a session before I begin, choose the type of activity, etc. Perhaps a watch might detect a swim automatically, but what about when I do archery? My device would think I’m mainly standing around for a couple of hours, when in fact I’m using about 3 times more energy than that. And all of this assumes that I’d even be willing to buy and wear a smartwatch in the first place, which, as it happens, I’m not.

In short, more comprehensive fitness tracking seems to make greater demands on your memory and your patience than I’m sure many of us are able to muster.

Why should we have to remember?

What if tracking your workouts was nearly as easy as having your steps counted automatically? No need to tell your device what you’re going to do before you do it. No need to even remember to enter it afterwards. Your phone just works quietly in the background and tells you what it thinks you did.

That’s the premise of Exercised, my latest app for iOS. You just tell it the places you usually go to exercise and what you do there. It will then detect visits, record the timings and remind you afterwards to add a workout to Apple Health, estimating the calories you burned. That’s it.

Exercised screenshot

You can make adjustments before adding a workout, for example if the timings aren’t quite right. But Exercised uses many techniques to try and guess the details correctly. For instance, it can check how your device moved during a visit. So if you left your phone in a locker, this stationary period narrows down the possible times you were exercising, allowing a better estimate. The app also remembers any adjustments you make, to try and guess better next time. Everything aims to minimise the boring effort it would otherwise take to record your workouts.

Exercised can estimate calorie usage for 66 different types of exercise. For many of these, you can also choose an intensity level to improve the estimate. Once you’ve added a workout to Apple Health, it also flows through to Apple Fitness (and any other app you’ve allowed access, such as Google Fit) and counts towards any move goal you’ve set there. Your daily progress towards your move goal is also shown right inside Exercised.

Adding workouts manually

Because the app assumes that a visit to a place corresponds to a workout, it can’t automatically detect when you’ve exercised otherwise, for example while at home.

However, even when adding your workout manually for those occasions, Exercised tries to make this as painless as possible. For example, it will remember what type of activity you do on different days of the week and use this to try and save you from specifying it every time.


In order to function and to employ all its tricks for minimising effort, Exercised asks for a number of permissions, such as Apple Health, location and device motion. One of the greatest design challenges was to ask for these permissions at the right moments, to explain why it’s asking for them, and to convey that the data is not used for any questionable purposes, only to maximise convenience. In fact, Exercised never even transmits any data off your device, so everything stays fully private. The privacy policy explains it all in more detail – I hope I succeeded in making this clear and easy to understand as well.

Change your tools, not your habits

Ever since I started using early versions of Exercised myself, I’ve had a much clearer picture of how much I move, and getting credit in Apple Fitness has helped keep me motivated. And, just as I’d hoped, I haven’t had to change my habits to track my fitness. Instead, technology is now doing what it’s meant to: getting out of the way and adjusting to me, rather than the other way round.

Exercised is availble on the App Store. Feel free to get in touch with any feedback or questions by emaling

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