Walking professional man

Google Fit said: 1400 steps, you get 1 heart point

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How does Google Fit count heart points? More than once I have noticed how the correlation between the number of steps and heart points is way more intricate than a linear relationship. I had two questions formalized when I gave this heart point metric some extra thought. They were:

  • How do heart points fit in with a healthy lifestyle?
  • How can I improve my daily heart point score without exhausting myself?

It seems as it is not the distance but the change in pace when walking, or the speed when cycling, that determines the number of awarded heart points.

Of course, the Google Fit app can’t tell if I’m on a Tuk Tuk travelling up and down narrow streets, or a bicycle that I’m pedalling fast with. I proved this when I went by Tuk Tuk while having the Google Fit app active. By the end of the 90 minute tour of the Mediterranean city I was awarded a total of 94 heart points! I can’t say I had earned that. 🙂

What Google says about heart points

I am not using a heart rate monitor but I do use Google Fit to monitor my activity level. To understand how it works, I checked how Google Fit use motion detection to calculate and award heart points. Due to this, I found out that the distinction between walking and bicycling makes a difference (duh) and the app awards one heart point per minute of cycling. Moreover, the app awards one heart point for 100 steps or more per minute. Moreover, if I’m taking 130 steps per minute, that is interpreted as running and I then get 2 heart points per minute. Therefore, my Tuk Tuk ride was then in all likelihood interpreted as running by the app. Read more about the heart points and the calculations in Google Fit Help.

I took my research further and went to heart.org. And it verified that both intensity and the amount of physical activity counts. There we go, that explains the varying number of heart points between walks and bike rides (and in my case, the misinterpreted Tuk Tuk ride). As stated on that page, just by picking up the pace when out for a walk can get them there [number of heart points].

I also took a brief glance at what lifehacker had to say on the topic, and in this post they mention that the number of steps is not as important as the (mysterious?) heart points and move minutes.