Google Fit adds heart rate moniter

Google just revamped its fitness app, offering new features to help users better track progress with their health and fitness goals. Google Fit now includes “move minutes,” which track how much movement you are doing throughout the day, and “heart points” where you can assess your overall heart rate through different activities.

According to a company blog post, Google Fit designed its app around these two features as a way to help people move more and sit less. Recent studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can be more dangerous to a person’s health than smoking, so many are tracking their movements through step counters, watches, and phones to make sure they move more often.

Google Fit gives heart points when you add an extra level of intensity to your movement – say by taking the stairs or running. These changes elevate heart rate, which is shown to “reduce the risk of heart disease, improve sleep, and increase overall mental well-being,” according to a blog post announcing the redesigned app.

But unlike other fitness apps, Google Fit doesn’t track individual types of exercise like running, biking, or walking – but rather, the overall movement and intensity change. So if you’re walking in the morning, but then decide to run or pick up your speed for a few minutes, the app will track this change and add more points to your score. (Activities like boxing and running give you double points.) The appeal for users is the ability to focus on the end goal – how much movement you’re doing in a given period and whether or not you’re raising your heart rate – two key factors in improving health.

The new app also counts steps, but this is secondary to its main goal of tracking the number of minutes per day you’re in motion.

Google worked in partnership with the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association in designing the new app. Users will see how their health scores compare to the experts’ recommended number.

Google Fit integrates with other fitness apps like Strava, Runkeeper, Endomondo and MyFitnessPal, and has a coaching feature that provides customized tips to increase your heart points, according to Gizmodo.

The redesigned app is meant to give Apple Health a run for its money. Both companies are improving their fitness app offerings in order to help sell wearable devices. (The Google app will track movement through both phones and watch sensors, as does the Apple fitness app.)

The update for Google Fit is expected to roll out the end of August.