Google's Revamped Fitness App Turns Activity Tracking Into A Game

Henrietta Brewer
August 22, 2018

But Google Fit hasn't really caught on like that. Which is why the new Google Fit is built around two pretty simple activity goals the update bases on recommendations it got from the AHA and WHO about how people can improve their health - those goals are called Move Minutes and Heart Points. You can see more at the Google Fit site too.

Google's blog post says, "It takes just 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week to reach the AHA and WHO's recommended amount of physical activity, which is shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve sleep, and increase overall mental well-being".

This new experience will be rolled out to users around the world starting this week. This will be easier to track if you have a smartwatch with a heart rate sensor, but if you don't Google will use a combination of accelerometer and (if available) Global Positioning System data to predict the intensity of your movements.

"The AHA has had the scientific guidelines since 2008 and people don't understand them, doctors don't adopt them", said Patrick Wayte, senior VP at the Center for Health Technology & Innovation at the American Heart Association. A minute of "moderate activity" such as quick walking yields one Heart Point, whereas more intensive tasks like running, swimming, or playing sports will double those returns. It's also proven a key area for partnerships between Google, Apple and the growing industry of health and wellness apps that rely on smartphone sensors to track activity. You can also manually choose activities such as gardening, pilates, rowing, or spinning in the app. And it integrates with other fitness apps such as Strava, Runkeeper, Endomondo, and MyFitnessPal so that you can get credit for activities you track elsewhere.

The new app will behave a little differently on iPhone, which doesn't have a standalone Fit app.

According to the AHA and World Health Organization, 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week will get you enough exercise to hit the recommendation for your weekly exercise.

Fit will be available for all Android devices and any watch that has Google's Wear OS, such as those from Fossil, LG and Huawei.

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