Apple Watch Breathe app

3 reasons the Breathe app is that 1-minute timeout you need

(And how to delete the app just in case you'd prefer that choice instead.)

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The Breathe app is a standard fixture on the Apple Watch, a blue flower that expands and contracts when tapped, reminding you to, yes, take a minute and just breathe. That's certainly a good reminder, but the app also delivers a few other reasons that make it a great one-minute timeout worth the very short time investment.

A focus on the breath can help to bring about what Harvard Medical School calls a relaxation response which can be a way to combat stress. A 2018 study found that breathing exercises can boost attention, and the University of Michigan notes that deep breathing can help to reduce stress in your body.

All of this suggests that taking one minute to tap Breathe may be worth the time.

Mindful minutes

You can't escape the idea of mindful minutes if you spend even part of your daily life online. The concept is to pull yourself out of your head, out of the stress or angst many of us spend thinking of the past or even the future. The goal here is to focus on the immediate, and in meditation one tool is just to focus on the breath.

Breathe does just this by creating a visual cue to breathe in, with the flower expanding, and to breathe out with the flower contracting. You can also just close your eyes and breathe using the haptic feedback — the tapping from the Apple Watch — that tells you when to breathe in and out.

Every minute using Breathe gets catalogued into your Mindful Minutes, hidden in the Health app under "Show All Health Data." You can even link other meditation apps to count towards these minutes, including two popular apps, Calm or Headspace.

Apple Watch Breathe appThe Breathe app also shows your heart rate after finishing a one-minute sessionGearBrain

Heart rate

After your one minute mini-meditation, Breathe displays your heart rate as it is picked up by your Apple Watch. The wearable takes readings of your heart rate throughout your day. But you can push for a reading by using the Breathe app, which will then record the end rate when you've finished the exercises. Optimally your heart rate will lower — yes, even after one minute of slow breathing.

If you're looking to lower your heart rate, or you've been tracking it for health reasons, the Breathe app can help you follow this metric, and potentially bring your heart rate down.

Heart rate variability, which the Breathe app captures, is being studied as a possible metric that can detect early Covid-19 infectionGearBrain

Apple Watch Breathe app

Heart rate variability

Like your heart rate, the Apple Watch tracks this metric as well. But heart rate variability is a bit different than the heart rate in that it detects the intervals between heart beats. Why should you care about this piece of data?

Heart rate variability is one data point athletes read to tell them about their fitness levels. There are studies too that are looking at this data to potentially detect early Covid-19 infection.

The Apple Watch captures this metric periodically, on its own, throughout your day. But you can push for the information to be pulled — like a heart rate — by launching the Breathe app. And the number may go up, which for this metric is the direction you want, after you finish a one-minute session.

You can customize the Breathe feature inside the Watch app on your iPhoneGearBrain

Still want to delete it?

You can not only delete the Breathe app, you can also customize it, changing how often you want the feature to ping you during the day and even.

In the Watch app on your iPhone, you can create preferences by clicking on Breathe. There, you can choose how often you want to be reminded to use the app, from 10 times a day to none. You can even choose to mute the reminder for single day, and you can also personalize how fast or slow you want the Breathe app to guide you to breathe. Standard is about 7 breaths a minute, but you can slow that down to four and up it to 10. And you can choose to keep haptic notifications fairly strong, soften them, or also eliminate them completely.

And finally, there is always the permanent option which is going directly to your Apple Watch, pressing the crown to bring up apps, and then pressing hard on the Breathe icon itself until the images vibrate, and then press once to delete that app.

Before taking that step, it might be worth trying the Breathe app for one minute — and seeing it that takes the edge off instead.

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