How to change the Move goal on your Apple Watch

Apple Watch
(Image credit: DMstudio House / Shutterstock)

The Activity app is the main hub for tracking your fitness and exercise on your Apple Watch, and completing the three 'rings' is a handy way to make sure you're moving enough each day.

The activity rings are in three sections: Move, Exercise and Stand. Each has its own goal for the day, which you can complete alone, or in competition with a friend. However, choosing the goal has to fit with your needs each day. If they change due to working from home or as a new year's resolution to get fitter in 2021, then it only makes sense to change these three goals.

Here’s how to change the most important of the three: the Move goal.

What is the Move goal?

Apple measures your fitness based on the data that you give it in the Health app, including: 

  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Wheelchair use

Once this data is entered, your Apple Watch calculates how many calories you burn each day, and sets a default target for you. This is the Move goal, and is represented by the pink circle in your iPhone's Fitness app, and in the your Apple Watch's Activity app.

Most of your daily movement is added to both the Move and Exercise rings, including walking and short exercises. Every Monday a summary appears on your Watch of how much you did the previous week, and the Watch recommends a new goal based on what you achieved.

Apple Watch for running

(Image credit: Kanut Photo / Shutterstock)

What are Active Calories?

Your Apple Watch uses your daily activity data and your Health profile to calculate a metric called basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body uses when at rest.

The Watch can then use this to accurately predict how many calories will be needed to complete the Move goal every day.

If you open the Activity app of your iPhone and tap the widget showing the three rings, the Move section shows a detailed breakdown of your calories burned so far, plus total calories. Apple uses this to work out your Active Calories for the day: Active Calories = total calories - BMR

How to change the Move goal

Your current Move goal may be 500kcal, but you can raise it if you're aiming to get more active. When the ‘Summary’ notification appears on a Monday, you'll be given the option to change it manually, or change it to a value that the Watch recommends. However, there's another method that allows you to change it whenever you wish:

  1. On your Apple Watch, go to the Activity app.
  2. Swipe to the bottom of the screen using your finger or the Digital Crown.
  3. You will see an option called ‘Change Goals’.
  4. Select it and you will be able to reduce or increase the ‘Move’ goal to whatever you wish.

You can reduce the goal to as few as 20 calories, but this may skew your previous fitness summaries, and may erroneously give you a trophy for achieving 400% in one day. Make sure that it’s set to a value that’s realistic for the day (you can always tweak it again if it's not quite right).

Fitness should never feel like a chore, so it helps to have something like the ‘Activity’ app that gently pushes you to go that extra mile when needed.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time, he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider'. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a newsletter, 'Springboard'. He's usually found playing games old and new on his Steam Deck and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.