Tag Archives: Google Fit

Level up your apps with the latest features from Android Health

Posted by Breana Tate - Developer Relations Engineer, Android Health

Android Health’s mission is to enable billions of Android users to be healthier through access, storage, and control of their health, fitness, and safety data. To further this mission, we offer two primary APIs for developers, Health Connect and Health Services on Wear OS, which are both used by a growing number of apps on Android and Wear OS.

AI capabilities unlock amazing and unique use cases, but to be ready to deliver the most value to your users at the right time, you need a strong foundation of data. Our updates this year focus on helping you build up this data foundation, with support for more data types, new ways to access data, and additional methods of getting timely data updates when you need them.

Changes to the Google Fit APIs

We recently shared that Google Fit developer services will be transitioning to become a core part of the Android Health platform. As part of this, the Google Fit APIs, including the REST API, will remain available until June 30, 2025.

Health Connect is the recommended solution for storing and sharing health and fitness data on Android phones. Beginning with Android 14, it’s available by default in Settings. On pre-Android 14 devices, it’s available for download from the Play Store. Health Connect lets your app connect with hundreds of apps using a single API integration. To date, over 500 apps have integrated with Health Connect and have unlocked deeper insights for their users. Check out the featured list to see some of the apps that have integrated.

We’re excited to continue supporting the Google Fit Android Recording API functionality through the Recording API on mobile, which allows developers to record steps, and soon distance and calories, in a power-efficient manner. In contrast to the Google Fit Android Recording API, the Recording API on mobile does not store data in the cloud by default, and does not require Google Sign-In. The API is designed to make migrating from the Fit Recording API effortless. Keep an eye on d.android.com/health-and-fitness for upcoming documentation.

Upcoming capabilities from Health Connect

Health Connect will soon add support for background reads and history reads.

Background reads will enable developers to read data from Health Connect while their app is in the background, meaning that you can keep data up-to-date without relying on the user to open your app. This is a departure from current behavior, where apps can only read from Health Connect while the app is in the foreground or running a foreground service.

History reads will give users the option to grant apps access to all historical data in Health Connect, not just the past 30 days.

With both background reads and history reads, users are in control. Both capabilities require developers to declare the respective permissions, and users must approve the permission requests before developers can make use of the data protected by those permissions. Even after granting approval, users have the option of revoking access at any time from within Health Connect settings.

Both features will be released later this year, so stay tuned to learn how to add support to your apps!

Updates to Health Services on Wear OS

Health Services on Wear OS is a set of APIs that makes it simple to create power-efficient health and fitness experiences on Wear OS.

In Wear OS 5, we’re introducing 2 new features:

    • New data types for running
    • Support for debounced goals

New Data Types for Running

Starting with Wear OS 5, Health Services will support new data types for running. These data types can help provide additional insights on running form and economy.

The full list of new advanced running metrics is:

    • Ground Contact Time
    • Stride Length
    • Vertical Oscillation
    • Vertical Ratio

As with all data types supported by Health Services on Wear OS, be sure to check exercise capabilities so that your app only uses metrics that are supported on the devices running your app, creating a smoother experience for users. This is especially important for Wear OS, as there is a strong ecosystem of devices for consumers to choose from, and they don’t always support the same metrics.

// Checking if the device supports the RUNNING exercise and confirming the 
// data types that are supported.
suspend fun getExerciseCapabilities(): ExerciseTypeCapabilities? {
   val capabilities = exerciseClient.getCapabilitiesAsync().await()
   return if (ExerciseType.RUNNING in capabilities.supportedExerciseTypes) {
   } else {

. . .

// Checking whether the data types that we want to use are supported by
// the RUNNING exercise on this device.
val dataTypes = setOf(
Checking exercise capabilities with Health Services on Wear OS

To make this easy, we’ve introduced a sensor panel, available starting in Android Studio Koala Feature Drop, which is currently in Canary. You can use the panel to test your app across a variety of device capabilities, experimenting with situations where metrics like heart rate or distance aren’t available.

The Health Services sensor panel
The Health Services sensor panel

Support for debounced goals

Second, Health Services on Wear OS will soon support debounced goals for instantaneous metrics. These include metrics like heart rate, distance, and speed, for which users want to maintain a specified threshold or range throughout an exercise.

Debounced goals prevent the same event from being emitted multiple times—every time the condition is true—over a short time period. Instead, events are emitted only if the threshold has been continuously exceeded for a (configurable) number of seconds. You can also prevent events from being emitted immediately after goal registration.

This support comes from two new ways to better time goal alerts for instantaneous metrics: duration at threshold and initial delay:

    • Duration at threshold is the amount of uninterrupted time the user needs to cross the specified threshold before Health Services sends an alert event.
    • Initial delay is the amount of time that must pass, since goal registration, before your app is notified.

Together, these features reduce the number of false positives and repeated alerts surfaced to users if your app lets users set fitness goals or targets.

Duration at Threshold

Initial Delay


The amount of uninterrupted time the user needs to cross the specified threshold before Health Services will send an alert event.

The amount of time that must pass since goal registration, before your app is notified.


Prevent false positives.

Prevent repeatedly notifying the user.

Counter starts

As soon as user crosses the specified threshold

As soon as the monitoring request is set

The differences between Duration at Threshold and Initial Delay

A common use case for debounced goals involves heart rate zones. Heart rate continuously fluctuates throughout an exercise, especially during cardio-intensive activities. Without support for debouncing, an app might get many alerts in a short period of time, such as each time the user’s heart rate dips above or below the target range.

By introducing an initial delay, you can inform Health Services to send a goal alert only after a specified time period has passed–think of this like an adjustment period. And by introducing a duration at threshold, you can take this customization further, by specifying the amount of time that must pass in (or out) of the specified threshold for the goal to be activated. In practice, this would be like waiting for the user to be out of their target heart rate range for 15 seconds before your app lets them know to increase or decrease their intensity.

Check out the technical session, “Building Adaptable Experiences with Android Health” to see this in action!

Your app’s training partner

The Health & Fitness Developer Center is your one-stop-shop for building health & fitness apps on Android! Visit the site for documentation, design inspiration, case studies, and more to learn how to build apps on mobile and Wear OS.

We’re excited to see the Health and Fitness experiences you continue to build on Android!

Evolving Health on Android: Migrating from Google Fit APIs to Android Health

Posted by Chris Wilk – Senior Product Manager, Android Health

At Google, we're committed to empowering developers to create innovative health and fitness experiences on Android. Over the past few years, we've been investing heavily in establishing the Android Health platform, making significant improvements to build a more unified, secure, and user-friendly health ecosystem. Our goal is to provide developers with a powerful, integrated health platform that reduces fragmentation and streamlines the development process.

What is changing

As a result of these advancements, we're excited to announce that Google Fit developer services will be transitioning to become a core part of the Android Health platform. This change allows us to better serve developers and users, providing a seamless experience across the platform.

As part of this transition, Google Fit APIs, including the REST API, will remain available until June 30, 2025, giving developers ample time to migrate to Android Health. Starting today, new sign-ups for the Google Fit APIs will no longer be accepted as we focus on enhancing the Android Health platform.

What this means for developers

Developers Using Google Fit APIs for Android

If you are a developer using Google Fit APIs for Android, we recommend migrating to Android Health products now to ensure uninterrupted service for your users. Android Health APIs offer several advantages over the Google Fit APIs for Android, including:

    1. Recording steps, distance, and calories: In the near future, Android Health will provide the Recording API on mobile, which doesn’t require a Google user account or the need for you to request access to API scopes. And it is more battery-efficient than using Android SensorManager (ASM). The Recording API will launch with steps, and soon support distance and calories.

    2. Accessing recorded data: The Recording API on mobile will enable developers to access up to 10 days of recorded data.

    3. Storing and sharing data between apps: By integrating with Health Connect, your Android app can access data from a growing ecosystem of apps with just one connection. Plus, data is stored on-device, ensuring the user is in full control of their data.

To help you get started with the migration process, we've created a comprehensive migration guide. This guide will walk you through the steps needed to transition your app from Google Fit APIs to Android Health products, primarily Health Connect, to ensure a smooth experience for both you and your users.

Developers using Google Fit REST APIs

Our Android Health API offerings have moved to an on-device model, so there will not be an alternative to the Fit REST API. Where possible, we encourage Fit REST API users to migrate to Android Health APIs.

In addition to Fitbit which supports Health Connect today, partners like Withings, Signos, Oura, Peloton, and Lifesum are already building innovative experiences with Android Health products. As more developers embrace this powerful set of APIs, we anticipate a thriving ecosystem of connected health and fitness apps that empower users to take control of their wellbeing.

We're committed to supporting you throughout this transition and can't wait to see the innovative solutions you'll create. If you encounter issues, have proposals for features you would like to see, or have any feedback, please provide them here.

We will share more details about what’s next for Android Health at Google I/O on May 14, 2024. Stay tuned for updates and announcements during the event.

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!

Take a pulse on health and wellness with your phone

Mobile devices have become essential daily tools for people all over the world — from staying connected to taking pictures and accessing information. Thanks to sensors that are already built into smartphones — like your microphone, camera and accelerometer — these devices can also be helpful for daily health and wellness.

Heart rate and respiratory rate are two vital signs commonly used to assess your health and wellness. Starting next month, Google Fit will allow you to measure your heart rate and respiratory rate using just your phone’s camera. These features will be available in the Google Fit app for Pixel phones, with plans to expand to more Android devices.

An image of a phone showing how you use Google Fit to monitor your respiratory rate.

Measure and monitor respiratory rate directly in the Google Fit app.

To measure your respiratory rate, you just need to place your head and upper torso in view of your phone’s front-facing camera and breathe normally. To measure your heart rate, simply place your finger on the rear-facing camera lens. 

While these measurements aren’t meant for medical diagnosis or to evaluate medical conditions, we hope they can be useful for people using the Google Fit app to track and improve day-to-day wellness. Once the measurements are made, you can choose to save them in the app to monitor trends over time, alongside other health and wellness information.

Developed to work for more people in real-world conditions

Thanks to increasingly powerful sensors and advances in computer vision, these features let you use your smartphone’s camera to track tiny physical signals at the pixel level — like chest movements to measure your respiratory rate and subtle changes in the color of your fingers for your heart rate.

We developed both features — and completed initial clinical studies to validate them — so they work in a variety of real-world conditions and for as many people as possible. For example, since our heart rate algorithm relies on approximating blood flow from color changes in someone’s fingertip, it has to account for factors such as lighting, skin tone, age and more in order to work for everyone. 

With continued advances in hardware and software, sometimes the device that could be most helpful to your health and wellness is already in your pocket. Our team of researchers, engineers, and clinicians are exploring how everyday devices and inexpensive sensors can give people the information and insights they need to take control of their health. 

You can learn more about our work in this area by tuning in to The Check Up, a virtual event showcasing how Google is working to tackle some of the biggest challenges in health.

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!

iPhones just got more helpful with Gmail, Drive and Fit widgets

When iPhone 12 was released a few weeks ago, we launched helpful widgets for your favorite Google apps on iOS. Over the next few days, we’re adding more for Gmail, Drive and Fit—and Calendar and Chrome widgets are on their way too.


With the new Gmail widget, you can search your inbox, start a new message and check for unread messages at a glance.
Gmail widget

Google Drive

The new Drive widget helps you access files you’re most likely to need—and lets you search for any file from your homescreen.

Google Drive widget

Google Fit

For those of you keeping track of your activity with Heart Points and Steps in Google Fit, this helpful new widget puts those numbers front and center on your iOS device.

Google Fit widget

Coming soon 

Finally, we’re pleased to announce that in the coming weeks we’ll launch a Calendar widget and in the new year a new widget for Chrome. Calendar will put your upcoming appointments on your homescreen and give you quick access to your full calendar.

Calendar widget

The Chrome widget will give you quick access to search, open a new tab or incognito tab, voice search and QR code scanning— and the smaller widget comes with a little prehistoric surprise. If you have Chrome Beta you can try widgets today, and we’ll be bringing them to everyone early next year.

Chrome widget

To install any Google widget on iOS, first make sure you have the latest corresponding app downloaded from the App Store. Then follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold  on the home screen of your iPhone or iPad

  2. Tap the plus icon on the upper left corner to open the widget gallery

  3. Search for & tap the widget you’d like to install

  4. Swipe right/left to select the widget size

  5. Tap “Add Widget”

  6. Place the widget and tap “Done” at the upper right corner

Source: Drive

New tools for a healthier, more active life

Health and fitness apps and device trackers can be incredibly motivating, but keeping track of all the information they provide can also get overwhelming. On your journey to improving your wellness, you might want to monitor your sleep, see if you’re meeting your workout goals and keep an eye on your heart rate. We wanted to make it easier to find all of this quickly, and more easily in one place.  To do this, we’ve made a few new updates to Google Fit and Wear OS by Google that make tracking and understanding all of your wellness information easier.

A single hub for all your health and wellness information

We’ve revamped the Google Fit app on Android and iOS to bring all of this information across your different connected apps and devices into one easy-to-view hub. In addition to being able to view a summary of your metrics at a glance on the homescreen, you’ll be able to see if you’re meeting your daily and weekly goals for Heart Points and Steps, view your most recent workout and keep track of your heart rate, weight and blood pressure trends over time.

As part of our ongoing effort to provide you with bedtime tools, we’ve also brought more sleep information into Google Fit. If you have a connected device like the Fossil Gen 5E Smartwatch, Oura Ring or Withings sleep tracking mat, or use a sleep-tracking app like Sleep As Android or Sleep Cycle, you’ll be able to track your nightly activity, view sleep stages, set a goal for your bedtime schedule and more. Look out for more supported devices and apps as we expand this feature. 

Google Fit homescreen and sleep

Tracking your favorite workouts just got easier

Staying active and achieving your weekly Heart Point goals can help you stay healthy through the holiday season. In the Google Fit Workouts Tile on Wear OS by Google smartwatches, we added shortcuts to take you to your most recent workouts so you can get moving faster. And while you're working out, you'll be able to see all your metrics in one view on your screen. You can set goals for your workouts and receive pace alerts to know if you’re staying on track.

Wear OS workouts tile

The Google Fit app on Android or iOS lets you view a summary of your walk or run on a map, along with pace and mile markers. To celebrate your accomplishments and encourage friends and family to get active, you can now share stats, routes or photos from your favorite Google Fit journal entries to social media or by messaging apps.

Google Fit social sharing

A breath of fresh air

If you’re anything like me, you’re growing a little weary of indoor workouts (or just the inside of your home in general). Getting a little fresh air can be rejuvenating, and also give you more energy and mental focus. To help, we’re updating the weather experience on Wear OS by Google smartwatches with a bolder design that’s easier on the eyes and provides you with more relevant forecast details, including precipitation and weather alerts.

Wear OS weather tile

And whether you’re outside or indoors, the new Breathe Tile helps you decompress with easier access to guided breathing sessions. Once it’s finished, you can view a summary that includes how your heart rate changed between the beginning and end, and you can also see a recap of your breathing sessions for the week.

Wear OS Breathe Tile

These updates will be rolling out over the next few days. We hope these tools give you everything you need to improve your wellbeing at home, or on the go.

How to be healthy at home

Right now, your home could be an office, a gym, a playground or even your own personal restaurant where all of your friends (virtually) hang out. While we’re all trying to figure out how to stay well and adjust to health routines at home, search interest in “exercise” and “handwashing” have reached an all-time high. Since health and wellness are top of mind right now, here are a few resources to help you be well.

Make the most of your time at home

YouTube is encouraging the world to Stay Home #WithMe by featuring videos from creators that help you promote mental and physical wellbeing while you’re at home. Check out topics ranging from “Meditate With Me” to “Work Out With Me” and “Dance With Me.”

Stay Home and help those who can’t.

Staying healthy can mean breaking a sweat while exercising or sitting still and calming your mind. Google Play has created a collection of special deals and free content for “Workout & wellness” and “Mindfulness & meditation.” Google Play also has feature roundups of apps by category for when you’re at home to help you “Sleep well & find balance” and “Stay healthy & work out.” 

Google Play Offers (1).png

Google Play is featuring special offers on helpful apps while you’re at home.

Also on Android TV, Google Play is adding new collections to help you find useful apps for your smart TV quickly.  Starting with the “Stay mindful & fit” collection in the U.S., you can easily find apps like Peloton, which offers workouts that can be done with or without equipment, to help you get moving right in your living room. “Stay mindful and fit” will be rolling out to Google Play on Android TV devices starting this week.


New app categories for Google Play on Android TV surface useful apps for your TV.

You can also kickstart a workout by asking Google Assistant, “Hey Google, show me workout videos” and follow a YouTube tutorial on your Smart Display, like Nest Hub Max, or on your phone.


Performance at a glance

Whether you're in the middle of your at-home workout, yoga session or taking a quick jog around the block, the latest Google Fit update on iOS and Android app bring bold text and bright visuals to the design, making it easier for quick check-ins on your activity goals. You’ll also start to see tips from WHO for reducing the risk of catching or spreading infections.

Fit update.png

Google Fit redesign makes it easier to check progress towards activity goals.

On Wear OS by Google smartwatches, we've made it easier to keep track of your at-home workouts and see how you’re doing throughout the day or week at a glance. The latest design includes visual updates to the Heart Points tile which now shows your progress toward the World Health Organization-recommended amount of physical activity. We’ve also added a new Workout tile to start tracking your go-to workouts with just one tap.


Wear OS by Google tiles bring quicker access to the best of Google Fit.

Help washing your hands

WHO recommends washing your hands for 40 seconds, which might be longer than you’re used to. Over the last month, search interest for "hand washing songs" spiked 850 percent in the U.S. To stick to 40 seconds, simply say, “Hey Google, help me wash my hands” and Google Assistant will play a song on your Smart Display, smart speaker, phone (Android and iOS) or Wear OS by Google smartwatch with speakers. If you want to skip the tunes, Google Assistant can set you up with a 40 second timer, or on Wear OS you can now add a hand-wash timer as a tile or as a shortcut on your watch face.

Get help washing your hands for 40 seconds.

These new features are all currently available, or rolling out in the coming weeks. We’re also always adding more apps and content to our collections, so stay on the lookout for more ways to stay healthy.

Putting your heart first on World Heart Day

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.

Meeting weekly Heart Point goals improve overall wellness and health

Meeting weekly Heart Point goals improve overall wellness and health

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.

7 minute workout with kids

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.

How tech can make health science accessible to everyone

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. 

The Google Fit team realized the need to convert the highly technical scientific guidelines for physical activity into actionable information that people can understand and incorporate into their lives. The scientific report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and American Heart Association (AHA) that underpins their physical activity guidelines is 700 pages long! So to start, we worked with the WHO and AHA to get the guidelines accurate from a technical perspective. 

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.