According to World Health Organization, more than 37 million people each year require medical attention due to a fall, leading to more serious health conditions and a loss of independence for the affected individual.
To tackle this issue, Apple has expanded its Mobility Metrics section in its Health app in iOS 15+ and launched a feature called “Walking Steadiness score” and a related notification.
You don’t need an Apple Watch to activate the Walking Steadiness (walking asymmetry) feature. It uses your iPhone’s motion sensors and Apple’s custom algorithms to assess your balance, stability, and coordination.
Apple offers this feature on iPhone 8 or later updated to iOS 15 and above. Whenever you walk with your iPhone, your phone tracks your mobility metrics, including your walking speed, step length, double support time, and walking asymmetry.
Apple then uses all of these walking and mobility metrics to determine your walking steadiness and then classify it.
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- 1 About Apple’s Walking Steadiness feature
- 2 How to set up walking steadiness score and notification feature in iOS 15+
- 3 How to review your Walking Steadiness history
- 4 Interpreting Walking Steadiness level scores in Apple Health
- 5 Walking Steadiness Score low or very low?
- 6 Share your walking steadiness information with others, including family or caregivers
- 7 Walking steadiness grayed out or shows no data source?
About Apple’s Walking Steadiness feature
The Walking Steadiness feature on the iPhone is an industry first, providing insight into fall risk by capturing important mobility data as users walk with their iPhones.
Since iOS 15 also introduced the concept of Health sharing, a feature that you can use to monitor the health of your loved ones, one could use it to monitor the walking steadiness score of an older adult in the family to mitigate risks associated with falling.
The new Walking Steadiness feature is helpful to the user and especially insightful for primary caregivers of folks prone to accidental falling due to health reasons.
You only get a notification if your walking steadiness level is low and the algorithm determines you are at risk for a fall within the next year.
How to set up walking steadiness score and notification feature in iOS 15+
Setting up and using this feature is fairly easy with the iOS 15+ Health app.
- Start by launching the Health App on your iPhone running at least iOS 15
- Go to the Summary tab and scroll to the Walking Steadiness Notifications prompt, then tap Set Up.
- You also find these settings in Browse > Mobility > scroll down and click Walking Steadiness Notifications.
- If you still don’t see Walking Steadiness, choose the Summary or Browse tab at the bottom and tap your profile icon or picture at the top and choose Health Checklist. Scroll down and tap Walking Steadiness Notifications.
- The Setup process is easy and starts with confirming your basic health data such as sex, age, weight, and height. ( Required for estimating a person’s walking steadiness score)
- The next setup screen helps you turn on the notifications for walking steadiness.
- By Turning On the notifications, your iPhone alerts you when your walking steadiness score is low or very low.
- You can add the Notifications /score to your favorites so that it shows up on the main screen
Can’t find Walking Steadiness in your iPhone’s Apple Health app?
There are several places to look for turning on notifications for walking steadiness.
- Check Browse > Mobility > scroll down and select Walking Steadiness Notifications.
- Or choose the Summary or Browse tab at the bottom and tap your profile icon or picture at the top and choose Health Checklist. Scroll down and tap Walking Steadiness Notifications.
How to review your Walking Steadiness history
- Open the Health app and tap Browse.
- Tap Mobility and choose Walking Steadiness or another mobility metric.
- Scroll down to see your history and tap on any item to see more details.
- You can also add Walking Steadiness to your Health app’s Favorites section, so you see it immediately when you open the Health app in the Summary tab.
- If you don’t see your walking steadiness score under your Favorites, tap Edit and add it!
Interpreting Walking Steadiness level scores in Apple Health
Apple provides three labels for this metric. These are:
- OK, meaning you do not have a risk of falling in the next 12 months
- Low, meaning you are at an increased risk of falling in the next 12 months and
- Very Low, suggesting that your walking is precarious and you have a high risk of falling within the next 12 months.
During the Walking Steadiness setup process, you can turn on notifications to alert you when this score becomes low or very low.
It is important to remember that these notifications mean that you’re more likely to fall overall, not that you’re about to fall in that moment.
Walking Steadiness measurements are taken over the course of seven days.
This is an important detail. If your score is low and you start performing some of the suggested exercises, you can monitor changes to your walking steadiness score every week.
Walking Steadiness Score low or very low?
As per Apple, the low or very low walking steadiness score notifications mean that you’re more likely to fall overall, not that you’re about to fall in that moment.
That being said, Apple provides the following resources that a user can leverage to improve their score.
- Tap on ‘Browse‘ at the bottom of the Health screen.
- Next, tap on Mobility and scroll down until you locate ‘Exercises That May Improve Walking Steadiness.’
- Tap on it and scroll down, and you find a series of exercises that help improve this score.
- Improving this requires the following exercises as outlined by Apple in this section.
- Sit-Stand exercise and Calf Raises to increase strength
- Hip Abduction and Heel-Toe Walking for improving Balance
- Walking exercises
Users can also download a PDF and print more details about these exercises from this screen. Please spend some time reading through the exercise guidelines and the safety precautions before trying out these exercises.
The main takeaway is that if your walking steadiness score is low or very low, you can use these exercises to improve your score and discuss it with a healthcare professional or your primary caregiver so that they are equally aware of the fall risk.
You can learn more about the new Health features Apple unveiled with iOS 15+ by clicking on Apple’s announcement.
Using your iPhone’s Health app’s health sharing feature, you can automatically share your walking steadiness information and notifications with friends or family.
To use this feature, you first need to set up Health Sharing with each person you wish to share your data with. Tap the Sharing tab at the bottom to set up and start sharing with family, friends, and caregivers.
Learn how to set up health sharing in our step-by-step article How to share your iPhone’s Health app health data with family and caregivers.
You must invite each person to share your health information with them, and they must accept your invitation.
- To share with someone, you must list them in your Contacts app.
- That person must use an iPhone with iOS 15 or later. You cannot share with Android folks at this time.
You only need to set this up once. From then on, your family and others get all your walking steadiness notifications and other data.
Walking steadiness grayed out or shows no data source?
If you don’t see any data on walking steadiness, make sure you use a supported iPhone mode (iPhone 8 and above) and update that phone to iOS 15 or above.
Then, walk with your iPhone over a series of days keeping your iPhone near your waist, like in a pocket, purse, bag, or waist pack.
After walking with your iPhone, check and see if your Apple Health app now shows data. Remember, you only receive a notification if Apple determines your walking steadiness score is low and that you are at a risk of falling over the coming year.