Author Archives: Kapil Parakh

A change of pace: Get more from your walks with Google Fit

Everyone wants to be healthy and stay fit, but some days, it can be incredibly difficult to get a workout in. But there is something many of us do everyday that has huge health benefits: walk. 

For years, walking has been measured by the number of steps we take. While seeing this count can be motivating, not all steps are equal. Think about it this way: There’s a difference between wandering through the garden and dashing to catch the bus. That difference is intensity, and scientists have found increased health benefits associated with walkingfaster.  Everyone has a preferred walking speed — a pace that feels natural — and picking up that pace has health benefits similar to riding a bicycle. Plus, if you start walking faster, your natural pace will get faster over time. 

I learned a lot about this from Rob Harle, a research scientist for Google Fit. In fact, we worked together and used this research to introduce a new Google Fit feature called Paced Walking, which is already available for most Android phones now. “The idea is simple: Pop in some headphones during a Paced Walking session and we’ll play an audio beat — a gentle background tick — for you to fall in step with,” Rob explains. “You can use the app to change the beat speed and vary the intensity of your walks. The beat plays on top of other audio, so you can still play music or podcasts while you walk. 

Another motivation for launching Paced Walking was to meet people where they are. “Studies show there is a lot of disparity when it comes to fitness; many people don’t have access to gyms or workout studios, or can’t afford equipment or online classes,” Rob says. “Walking is something almost everyone has access to, and picking up the pace can increase the health benefits.”

Once you start picking up the pace using Paced Walking, you’ll earn more Heart Points in Google Fit — for every minute that you walk at a pace of over 100 steps per minute, you’ll earn one Heart Point. This will help you get the American Heart Association® and the World Health Organization recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, all while you are doing something that you routinely do — walking. And a bonus to using Paced Walking? You’ll arrive at your destination a little sooner!

Tackle your health goals in 2021 with Google Fit

It’s the beginning of a new year, and for many of us, it’s also time for a renewed approach to our health. Maybe you want to figure out a new fitness routine that doesn’t require a gym or finally carve out time for meditation. Whatever your goals are, the most important thing is to get started and stay on course. But it can be hard to stay motivated in our busy lives. That’s why Google Fit is designed to address common challenges we all face in reaching our goals. Here are some simple tips for using Google Fit to set yourself up for success. 

Measure what matters 

Steps, miles, calories. Tracking so many different things can be overwhelming. A simpler, proven way is to follow the science. The American Heart Association® and the World Health Organization recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week to improve your chances of getting better sleep and having more energy, as well as lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease. That’s why we designed Google Fit’s primary metric to be Heart Points, one simple way to measure what matters: You get one point for each minute of moderately intense activity, like walking briskly, and double points for more intense activities, like running.

Heart points on Wear OS by Google

Stay motivated

It's one thing to kick off a new routine, but it's quite another to stick with it. One way to commit to a new healthy habit is to make it social and fun. Sharing your workouts with friends and family helps keep you accountable to your goals, and the new Google Fit social sharing feature makes it easy to share your activity directly from your journal. Have fun with it and include a post-workout selfie or that beautiful snap from your hike.
Google Fit social sharing

Make every move count

No gym? No problem. Even brisk walking earns you Heart Points. If you want to be more adventurous or creative, Google Fit tracks more than 100 activities, from table tennis to sledding. You can also connect your favorite fitness tracking apps and devices with Google Fit so that you get credit—and gain Heart Points—for all of your activity, and it’s tracked in one place.
Google Fit activities

Invest in rest

If you aren’t well-rested, it’s hard to do anything else. Adequate sleep is a significant part of maintaining your health. A number of sleep apps and devices connect with Google Fit so you can collect your sleep data in one place. Check your weekly stats at a glance on the homescreen, and look at a deeper view for insight into your sleep patterns over time. 

Adopting meditation and mindfulness practices can help you find balance. Wear OS by Google watches have guided breathing sessions to help you get started.

Google Fit sleep and breathe

I hope these tips help you get started and stray on track to reach your health goals in the coming year. If you’re new to Google Fit, try the app out on your Android phone or iPhone. Here’s to a strong start and a healthy 2021!