World Heart Day is this Sunday, and it raises awareness around the cause and prevention of cardiovascular diseases around the world. As part of these efforts, the World Heart Federation recognizes “people from all walks of life who have shown commitment, courage, empathy and care in relation to heart health” as heart heroes. It’s an honor to have been included this year for my focus on using technology to promote lifestyle interventions such as increasing physical activity to help people lead healthier lives.
Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the U.S., so it’s more important than ever to identify and share simple ways to keep your heart healthy. I have two kids under the age of five and life can get really busy. When juggling between patients, children, work and errands, it’s easy to feel active when in reality, I’ve lost track of healthy habits.
With Google Fit’s smart activity goals and Heart Point tracking, I realized I wasn’t reaching American Heart Association and World Health Organization’s recommended amount of weekly physical activity and I needed to make changes to earn more Heart Points throughout the week.
On busy days, I’ve started to use a 7-minute workout app every evening that provides video overviews and audio descriptions of each exercise. It’s quick, easy and fun. And to top it off, my kids will often join in on a wall sit or climb on me for some extra weight during a plank. I’ve found these exercises to be a quick and efficient way to earn 14 Heart Points, which quickly adds up to help me reach my weekly goal.
Using a workout app may not be for everyone—there are many ways to incorporate incremental changes throughout your week that will help you be more active. Here are a few other things to try out:
Get your body moving and rake the leaves outside or mow the lawn.
Pick up the pace when you’re on a walk, with yourself, your friends or your dog.
Wear sneakers and make it a walking meeting—this way you and your co-workers get health benefits.
Sign up for a workout class! A 45-minute indoor cycling class earns you 90 Heart Points.
Before you shower, take a few minutes to do simple exercises like jumping jacks, squats, wall sits, push ups or planks.
The beauty of it all is that you don’t have to go to a gym or buy special equipment. Just getting moving can have health benefits that add up. For World Heart Day, I challenge you to find opportunities that work with your schedule to earn more Heart Points.
Throughout my medical career I’ve treated patients in vastly different settings—from Zambia, where I went to medical school, to the U.S., where I still practice medicine today. All of these places shared a troubling trend: While we successfully treated people for conditions like malaria or heart failure, they continued to get readmitted for recurrences of these conditions. It became clear to me that even though the medical community has a tremendous amount of knowledge about what it takes to improve health and save lives, we struggle to share that knowledge with everyone.
Decades later, we’ve made some progress, but there’s more to be done. In the nearly 20 years since I left Zambia, prevention efforts have cut the incidence of malaria in half. At Johns Hopkins Bayview, a hospital in East Baltimore where I started as a resident physician and later on became the Director of Heart Failure, I helped lead efforts that eventually reduced the heart failure readmission rates by one third. These successes did not require the creation of a new drug or device, they simply relied on translating the existing science we had into something that people can put into action.
Today, as the medical lead for Google Fit, an app that helps coach people to live a more active and healthy life, this idea still drives me. If we can better share existing scientific knowledge with everyone, then we can help people live longer and healthier lives no matter where they are.
There’s general agreement in the medical community that physical activity improves health. In fact, some studies show that people who meet the physical activity guidelines have 40 percent lower rates of diabetes, 35 percent lower rates of heart disease, 20 percent lower rates of dementia and depression and 20 percent lower rates of cancer. And that’s not all: There are even more short-term benefits linked to physical activity, like lowered stress and improved sleep. But despite all the medical research, people are more sedentary than ever.
Then our designers turned the information into something that was easier to understand, no matter who was looking at it. After all, it’s tough for most people to know the difference between moderate and vigorous activity, or take into account every little bit of your activity throughout the day. To cut through the noise, we created a unique metric for the Google Fit app called Heart Points. This metric helps people incorporate physical activity into their lives so they can reach the recommended levels. The most surprising thing is how simple changes, like picking up your pace while walking on your commute, can have a huge impact. It’s not always about putting on workout clothes or investing money in a gym membership. You can use the Google Fit app on any Android or iOS phone, or any Wear OS by Google smartwatch.
Google certainly isn’t the only company working to use technology to improve wellbeing, and physical activity isn’t the only way to achieve a healthier lifestyle. In fact, we’re at an exciting time when advances in technology can bring new opportunities to promote healthier habits. The next challenge will be to come together across industries and companies to bring science-backed information to people in ways that can affect their day-to-day actions and, ultimately, improve their health.
I recently took up running to improve my overall health and wellbeing. And let me tell you, it's harder than it looks. I've learned that it's not just about building my mileage every week, but it's also about making bigger lifestyle changes like getting more sleep and building healthier habits.
The Google Fit app already tracks my Heart Points and Move Minutes, and I've been monitoring my sleep through apps that I connect to Google Fit so I can make sure I’m well rested for my daily routine. At Google Fit, we understand that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is more than just tracking what you do on the go. It’s also about resting up and powering down. So today, we’re bringing improved sleep insights and dark theme to our Google Fit app.
Catch some ZZZ’s
You can now track your sleep patterns alongside all the other activities you do throughout the day. Connect your favorite sleep app to Google Fit and you’ll see charts that show you your sleep patterns over time. You’ll also be able to add, edit or access your sleep history through the journal.
Paint it black
Now you can enable dark theme to help you wind down at the right time and get a better night’s sleep. Even better, dark theme can be gentler on the eyes and help save your battery life. All you need to do is turn on the feature in your settings.
Now on iOS: See your route
On Android, Google Fit captures a summary of your workouts along with a map of your route, whether you ran, hiked or biked. Now we’re bringing the same useful map routes into the iPhone app for workouts actively tracked on your Wear OS by Google smartwatch, Apple Watch or other connected apps.
We’ll be rolling out these updates on your phone over the next week. If you’re new to Google Fit, try the app out on your Android phone or iPhone.
Being more physically active in your everyday life can help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve sleep and increase overall mental health. When we launched the new Google Fit last year, we translated the science behind physical activity into two simple and smart activity goals: Move Minutes and Heart Points. Now, we're bringing the Google Fit app to more people—starting today, it's available to download on iOS.
Track your Heart Points and Move Minutes earned
Move Minutes and Heart Points help you build smarter, healthier habits throughout your day. The more you move, the more Move Minutes you earn. The more intensely you move, the more Heart Points you earn. And the more Heart Points you earn, the closer you are to reaching AHA and WHO’s recommended amount of weekly physical activity to reap the health benefits. Whether you go biking or pick up your pace while walking to your next meeting to earn more Heart Points, you can check your journal to track progress on these two activity goals and see how small changes can make a big impact to your health.
Connect your apps and devices on Apple Health with Google Fit
Tracking your progress throughout the day should be simple and easy. Regardless of which apps or devices you use to monitor fitness, sleep and general wellbeing, Google Fit has you covered.
Apps you connect to Apple Health, such as Sleep Cycle, Nike Run Club and Headspace, sync with Google Fit to provide a holistic view of your health and show the Heart Points and Move Minutes you earn through other activities. And whether you own an Apple Watch or Wear OS by Google smartwatch, Google Fit keeps track of your workout sessions. With your journal, you’ll get a snapshot of the things that you do to help you get better sleep, be more mindful and get more active.
Get active. Get some extra sleep. Find inner peace. They’re excellent New Year’s resolutions, and they’re also achievable with help from Google. More than 325,000 people with fitness goals for 2019 joined the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge during January to earn as many Heart Points as they could with Google Fit.
After looking at the statistics, Google Fit challengers were a seriously impressive bunch.
In Russia, people went cross-country skiing. In India, people loved their badminton. Brits hit up rowing machines while Americans got into weightlifting. Edinburgh, London and Kawasaki took top prizes for the most active cities around the world—while in the U.S. New York, Boston, and Washington braved the cold and topped the charts.
About four in ten of the people who joined the challenge earned at least 150 Heart Points on average per week and met American Heart Association’s weekly physical activity recommendations. And seven percent of people achieved all the milestones, earning more than 1500 Heart Points during the New Year Challenge.
Just because the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge is over doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. Google is still here to help you stick to stay fit, sleep better, practice digital wellbeing and live mindfully throughout all of 2019. Here are a few final tools and tricks to make sure your resolutions last all year long.
1. Set reminders in Google Calendar.
Keep up with the goals you set in early January by creating recurring weekly reminders in your Google Calendar. Reminders don’t go away until you actually do the activity, which can be a helpful self-imposed guilt-trip to push you out the door for that weekly run you promised yourself you’d do.
2. Embrace the selfie.
Whether you’re looking to eat healthier or get more active, actually seeing your progress is a great way to keep focused on your resolution. Take weekly selfies and keep them in a Google Photos album, so you can scroll down memory lane when you need a pick-me-up. If you’re feeling proud about your progress or just enjoy compliment-fishing, share them with a friend so they can help keep you motivated, too.
3. Set up routines to turn your aspirations into habits.
Do you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning? Or perhaps it takes you ages to unwind after work? Routines with Google Assistant help build healthy habits by doing multiple things for you with a single voice command. You can personalize them to suit your lifestyle and they’re a great way to set the mood for setting aside “me time.”
4. See how you stacked up with the 2019 #GetFitWithGoogle challenge.
For the last four weeks, six teams of influencers from around the world have been competing against each other to earn the most Heart Points during January.
After overtaking Switzerland in Week 2, Colombia just managed to hold on and take out the inaugural #GetFitWithGoogle challenge with a collective total of 17,465 Heart Points. Switzerland had a strong final week, finishing just 530 points being Colombia in second place—the equivalent of just 15 minutes more exercise per team member per week.
Team Belgium had a strong last few weeks to take out third place ahead of the U.S. in fourth.
Check out the top five individual influencers' performances from around the world. Congrats to Melissa Peláez for absolutely killing it, with 6602 Heart Points during January.
We hope you all enjoyed taking part in the #GetFitWithGoogle Challenge. And hey, if you lose your way a bit here and there during 2019, worry not. We’ll be right here cheering you along next January, too.
We all feel it. The struggle is real. Let’s make 2019 different.
Google is here to give your resolutions a boost, with tools and tricks that will help you form good habits to get fit, sleep better, practice digital well-being and live mindfully. Let’s start with some of the most popular resolutions every year: getting fit and eating better.
1. Set your goals in Google Calendar.
First up, set some realistic goals for yourself and make yourself accountable by blocking time in your calendar. Goals in Google Calendar automatically finds time in your busy schedule to go for a run, or prep some healthy meals for the week. If an important clash comes up, no worries: Google Calendar will suggest a better time for you.
2. Track your workouts and earn points with Google Fit.
From swimming to gym workouts, Google Fit works with many of your favorite apps and health devices to give you credit for all your moves. Use Google Fit on your Android phone to earn Heart Points and track how your progressing towards meeting your goals.
3. Blaze new trails on your bike with Google Maps.
For the two-wheel enthusiasts out there, you can find biking routes near you by turning on the cycling layer in Google Maps. Dark green lines on the map show dedicated bike trails and paths without cars, green lines show streets with dedicated bike lanes, and dashed green lines show other streets recommended for cycling.
4. Stick to your diet goals with Google and YouTube.
If your resolution is to count calories as part of your diet, Google makes it easy. If you’re in the mood for French fries at lunch, just search “how many calories in French fries” and you’ll get your answer — 312 calories, plus 23 percent of your daily recommended daily intake of fat. You can also turn to YouTube to learn how to make healthy recipes. Thanks to YouTube creators like Veggie Recipe House, The Serious Fitness, and Health Nut Nutrition, you can create nutritious and delicious dishes all year long.
5. Follow along with the #GetFitWithGoogle challenge.
To get you motivated, we’ve invited people from around the globe to show us how it’s done in the #GetFitWithGoogle global challenge. From January 1-28, teams of four influencers per country are competing against each other to earn as many Heart Points as possible during the month with Google Fit.
Here’s the global leaderboard after Week 1.
Get to know the teams!
Follow their progress with the #GetFitWithGoogle hashtag on Instagram, and see who’s taking part in the challenge around the world. Don’t forget to share your fitness progress using the hashtag and let others know how you #GetFitWithGoogle, too.
January is fast approaching—and that means it’s almost time for New Year's resolutions, even though most people seem to abandon them about a week into the new year. But if 2019 is the year you want to stick to your goals, you may want to get a head start. In fact, our New Year's resolution is to make it easier for you to get healthy, and have fun doing it. Here's how you can put health and wellness first in 2019, with a little help from Google.
Step 1: Get in the game.
Go to the Google Fit app to join a 30-day challenge designed to kick-start your journey to a healthier, more active life. The challenge begins on January 1, but you can sign up starting today (running shoes optional). You’ll earn Heart Points from activities that you log or actively track with Google Fit. Better yet, Google Fit will automatically detect and log walks, runs or bike rides for you. Your goal is to get as many points as possible—and we’ll be cheering you on along the way.
Step 2: Learn the ground rules.
You’ll score Heart Points for any activity that gets your heart pumping. Get one point for each minute of moderate activity, like picking up the pace while walking your dog, and double points for more intense activities like running or kickboxing. Hit 150 Heart Points per week to meet the American Heart Association (AHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO)’s physical activity recommendations shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve sleep and increase overall mental well-being.
Step 3: Get moving.
We hear you: It’s tough to get motivated when it’s cold outside. Here are some ways you can earn Heart Points while you’re going about your winter routine:
Want to involve the whole family? Go sledding with your kids and earn double Heart Points.
Skip the snowblower and grab a shovel. Extra points if you do your neighbor’s yard, too.
You’ll probably make a hot cocoa run at some point. Park at the farther end of the lot and squeeze in a brisk walk.
If you find yourself on the mountain this winter, skiing and snowboarding are all intense activities that can earn you double Heart Points.
If the hot cocoa didn’t warm you up, catch a spin class and earn a Heart Point for every minute you’re on the bike.
Step 4: Find a buddy.
For more inspiration, we’ve teamed up with 36 influencers from nine countries around the globe to show us how they’re earning their Heart Points. Follow #GetFitWithGoogle on Instagram and YouTube to see how others are tackling the challenge, or share your own tips and tricks on how you #GetFitwithGoogle with your favorite Heart Points workout.
Are you up for the challenge? Sign-up today in the Google Fit app. If you’re new to Google Fit, try it here to start the year right with Fit.
Go for a run, improve your game, and explore the great outdoors with Android Wear! Developers are creating a diverse array of fitness apps that provide everything from pace and heart rate while running, to golf tips on your favorite course, to trail maps for hiking. Let’s take a look features of the open and flexible Wear platform they use to create great user experiences.
If your app supports always-on, you’ll never have to touch or twist your watch to activate the display. Running and want to see your pace? Glance at your wrist and it’s there! Runtastic, Endomondo, and MapMyRun use always-on to keep your stats visible, even in ambient mode. When it’s time for golf, I use Golfshot. Likewise, Golfshot uses always-on to continuously show yardage to the hole, so I never have to drop my club. Check out the doc, DevByte, and code sample to learn more.
Runtastic automatically transitions to ambient mode to conserve battery. There, it reduces the frequency at which stats are updated to about once per 10 seconds.
Maps, routes, and markers
It's encouraging to see how much ground I’ve covered when I go for a run or ride! Using the Maps API, you can show users their route, position, and place markers on the map they can tap to see more info you provide. All of this functionality is available to you using the same Maps API you’ve already worked with on Android. Check out the doc, DevByte, code sample, and blog post to learn more.
Endomondo tracks your route while your run. You can pan and zoom the map.
Google Fit is an open platform designed to make it easier to write fitness apps. It provides APIs to help with many common tasks. For example, you can use the Recording API to estimate how many steps the user has taken and how many calories they've burned. You can make that data to your app via the History API, and even access it over the web via REST, without having to write your own backend. Now, Google Fit can store data from a wide variety of exercises, from running to weightlifting. Check out the DevByte and code samples to learn more.
Bluetooth Low Energy: pair with your watch
With the latest release of Android Wear, developers can now pair BLE devices directly with the Wearable. This is a great opportunity for all fitness apps -- and especially for running -- where carrying both a phone and the Wearable can be problematic. Imagine if your users could pair their heart rate straps or bicycle cadence sensors directly to their Wear device, and leave their phones at home. BLE is now supported by all Wear devices, and is supported by Google Fit. To learn more about it, check out this guide and DevByte.
Pack light with onboard GPS
When I’m running, carrying both a phone and a wearable can be a bit much. If you’re using an Android Wear device that supports onboard GPS, you can leave your phone at home! Since not all Wear devices have an onboard GPS sensor, you can use the FusedLocationProviderApi to seamlessly retrieve GPS coordinates from the phone if not available on the wearable. Check out this handy guide for more about detecting location on Wear.
RunKeeper supports onboard GPS if it’s available on your Wearable.
Sync data transparently
When I’m back home and ready for more details on my activity, I can see them by opening the app on my phone. My favorite fitness apps transparently sync data between my Wearable and phone. To learn more about syncing data between devices, watch this DevByte on the DataLayer API.
We are pleased to announce the release of Games in Motion, an open source game sample to demonstrate how developers can make fun games using Google Fit and Android Wear. Do you ever go on a jog and feel like there is a lack of incentive to help you run better? What if you were a secret agent and had to use your speed and your nifty gadget to complete missions?
With Games in Motion, you can enhance your exercise with missions and actions on your Android Wear device, while logging your jogs to the cloud.
Games in Motion is written in Java programming language using Android Studio. It demonstrates multiple Android technologies.
Android Wear bridges notifications from a phone or tablet to a paired Android Wear device. The notifications are stacked so we can show multiple stats at the same time.
Google Fit API collects and processes fitness data and sessions. This allows us to use the fitness data to show user progress. All exercise sessions done in Games in Motion will be recorded to Google Fit as well.
Today, we’re excited to give you new tools to build better apps with the rollout of Google Play services 7.3. With new Android Wear APIs, the addition of nutrition data to Google Fit, improvements to retrieving the user’s activity and location, and better support for optional APIs, there’s a lot to explore in this release.
Google Play services 7.3 extends the Android Wear network by enabling you to connect multiple Wear devices to a single mobile device.
While the DataApi will automatically sync DataItems across all nodes in the Wear network, the directed nature of the MessageApi is faced with new challenges. What node do you send a message to when the NodeApi starts showing multiple nodes from getConnectedNodes()? This is exactly the use case for the new CapabilityApi, which allows different nodes to advertise that they provide a specific functionality (say, the phone node being able to download images from the internet). This allows you to replace a generic NodeListener with a more specific CapabilityListener, getting only connection results and a list of nodes that have the specific functionality you need. We’ve updated the Sending and Receiving Messages training to explore this new functionality.
Another new addition for Android Wear is the ChannelApi, which provides a bidirectional data connection between two nodes. While assets are the best way to efficiently add binary data to the data layer for synchronization to all devices, this API focuses on sending larger binary data directly between specific nodes. This comes in two forms: sending full files via the sendFile() method (perfect for later offline access) or opening an OutputStream to stream real time binary data. We hope this offers a flexible, low level API to complement the DataApi and MessageApi.
We’ve updated our samples with these changes in mind so go check them out here!
Google Fit makes building fitness apps easier with fitness specific APIs on retrieving sensor data like current location and speed, collecting and storing activity data in Google Fit’s open platform, and automatically aggregating that data into a single view of the user’s fitness data.
To make it even easier to retrieve up-to-date information, Google Play Services 7.3 adds a new method to the HistoryApi: readDailyTotal(). This automatically aggregates data for a given DataType from midnight on the current day through now, giving you a single DataPoint. For TYPE_STEP_COUNT_DELTA, this method does not require any authentication, making it possible to retrieve the current number of steps for today from any application whether on mobile devices or on Android Wear - great for watch faces!
Google Fit is also augmenting its existing data types with granular nutrition information, including protein, fat, cholesterol, and more. By leveraging these details about the user’s diet, developers can help users stay more informed about their health and fitness.
LocationRequest is the heart of the FusedLocationProviderApi, encapsulating the type and frequency of location information you’d like to receive. An important, but small change to LocationRequest is the addition of a maximum wait time for location updates via setMaxWaitTime(). By using a value at least two times larger than the requested interval, the system can batch location updates together, reducing battery usage and, on some devices, actually improving location accuracy.
For any ongoing location requests, it is important to know that you will continue to get good location data back. The SettingsApi is still incredibly useful for confirming that user settings are optimal before you put in a LocationRequest, however, it isn’t the best approach for continual monitoring. For that, you can use the new LocationCallback class in place of your existing LocationListener to receive LocationAvailability updates in addition to location updates, giving you a simple callback whenever settings might have changed which will affect the current set of LocationRequests. You can also use FusedLocationProviderApi’s getLocationAvailability() to retrieve the current state on demand.
Connecting to Google Play services
One of the biggest benefits of GoogleApiClient is that it provides a single connection state, whether you are connecting to a single API or multiple APIs. However, this made it hard to work with APIs that might not be available on all devices, such as the Wearable API. This release makes it much easier to work with APIs that may not always be available with the addition of an addApiIfAvailable() method ensuring that unavailable APIs do not hold up the connection process. The current state for each API can then be retrieved via getConnectionResult(), giving you a way to check at runtime whether an API is available and connected.
While GoogleApiClient’s connection process already takes care of checking for Google Play services availability, if you are not using GoogleApiClient, you’ll find many of the static utility methods in GooglePlayServicesUtil such as isGooglePlayServicesAvailable() have now been moved to the singleton GoogleApiAvailability class. We hope the move away from static methods helps you when writing tests, ensuring your application can properly handle any error cases.
SDK is now available!
Google Play services 7.3 is now available: get started with updated SDK now!