Beyond counting steps. Use Google Fit’s Paced Walking feature to get more out of your walks

Counting steps was made popular with Fitbit. Pedometers were a novel fitness gadget not too long ago. After all, Walking is one of the best exercises one can do. Not only does walking help one’s cardio fitness levels but it also helps with reducing stress and keeping your muscles relaxed and healthy.

But..All steps measured and accounted for are not same.

Google Fit’s Paced Walking feature helps you in increasing the “intensity” of your walk.

As Google puts it “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 walking faster.”

Walking has the potential to play a key role in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease according to several studies. [1].

Researchers conducted an extensive study and examined data across seven years on 474,919 people in the UK, during which time 12,823 of them died.[2] The subjects had defined their own walking pace as slow, steady/average or brisk. The brisk walkers had longer life expectancies, on average.

According to Rob Harle, a research scientist at Google Fit “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. 

How to Use Paced Walking in Google Fit

  1. Lunch Google Fit on your phone and plug in some headphones
  2. Tap on ‘Try Paced Walking’Google Fit Paced Walking feature
  3. Set the pace that you want to use ( Brisk walk is estimated as 100 steps per minute)

    Set the pace goal for your walking
    Try to set it at 100 steps per minute in order to get the heartpoints
  4. Walk to the beat in the background ( The beat sounds like a faint metronome)
  5. A map icon helps track your route while you use Paced Walking

    Map your walk when using Paced walking on Google Fit
    Tapping on the maps icon at the bottom of the screen shows you your route.
  6. The Pause and resume buttons help you with pausing the activity ( While at a traffic light) 
  7. Tap on the stop button once you have completed your walk

The feature automatically tracks all the essential metrics related to your paced walking activity.

Google Fit Paced walking metrics
Use the report on Google Fit to check your metrics and share.

From your Google Fit home screen, you can see the active time, distance, calories, move minutes, elevation, and the cadence associated with your walking exercise.

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.

Google Fit’s heart points are in line with the American Heart association’s recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which translates to 150 heart points.Google Fit team for Paced Walking feature

The team led by Google’s Kapil Parakh, MD and Robert Harle was instrumental in launching this Google Fit feature.

Next time, you are going on a leisurely walk around your neighborhood or walking to the store to pick up a gallon, plug your headphones and give the Paced Walking activity on Google Fit a try!

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.

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