watchOS 11 finally lets you pause your Activity rings

I remember when Apple first introduced Activity rings on Apple Watch. Closing your rings became an obsession for a lot of us. Every day, you just had to close the Move, Exercise, and Stand rings to feel like you had actually accomplished something.

Close Your Rings is, like, a thing. There’s even an entire page on the Apple website called Close Your Rings that goes into how to close each and why it’s important to do so.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m really glad this whole concept exists. It actually keeps me motivated to ensure I move every day. Even if I don’t make it to the gym, I’ll at least get two or three walks in every day to ensure I at least close my rings. Apple really did succeed at creating something that nudges you without much effort to get some activity in every day.

However, closing your rings has always been a double-edged sword. While it’s been motivating to close those rings day after day and see your streak grow and grow, just one missed day could destroy all of that progress and crumble that motivation you were feeling.

Apple Watch running award
An award on the Apple Watch. Image source: José Adorno for BGR

I’m sure almost all of us have found ourselves on a streak with closing our rings. You’re seeing the number of days in the streak grow and your Apple Watch is even sending you notifications congratulating you on your progress. You’re feeling unstoppable and super motivated! And then, you get sick. You’re laid out on the couch for a couple of days, and, just like that, your streak is over, and you’re starting over from scratch.

Your Activity rings, instead of motivating you, just punished you for getting sick and took away all of the progress you were making. It’s a brutal thing to happen, especially if you’ve been riding the wave of a streak for an especially long time.

Apple is finally fixing this with watchOS 11

We’ve been asking for Apple to let us pause our Activity rings for, well, forever, and Craig Federighi and the team seem to have finally decided to hear our cries. At WWDC 2024, the company announced that, with watchOS 11, you’ll finally be able to pause your Activity rings.

The company says, “Whether users are planning a rest day during their training, have an injury, or just need a day off, they can pause their rings for a day, week, month, or more — without affecting their award streaks.”

Every day, Activity rings keep Apple Watch users motivated to sit less, move more, and get some exercise — and with watchOS 11, they’re even more customizable. Whether users are planning a rest day during their training, have an injury, or just need a day off, they now have the ability to pause their rings for a day, week, month, or more — without affecting their award streaks. Users can also customize their Activity ring goals by the day of the week, so the rings provide the right amount of motivation at the right moments.

This is awesome. This is exactly what we’ve been waiting for. I’m actually surprised that the company will let you pause your rings for so long. At first, I was expecting maybe a day or three at most. However, being able to pause them for more than a month is great. I think the company realized they should put this decision in the hands of the users, not themselves.

You can finally pause your Activity rings in watchOS 11.

Of course, pausing your rings will mean that you won’t continue to accrue towards your award streaks, and, for awards that require you to close your rings within a certain period of time, you likely won’t get credit for those awards if your rings are paused. However, it does mean that your long-term streaks are now safe from a short hit of sickness or anything else that requires you to take some time to rest.

So, going forward, if you get sick, have a 20-hour flight, or anything else that stops you from closing those rings, you don’t have to feel bad about yourself missing a day. So, close those rings! Or pause those rings! Whatever you want, athlete.

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