By using the default apps on your phone, you can train more

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Google Fit is (as the name suggests) Google’s own fitness tracking app, and it comes preinstalled on Android phones—if you don’t have it for whatever reason, then you can install it from the Google Play Store. Unlike Apple’s offering, it’s cross-platform, and you can find the iOS version here. While Google Fit isn’t the most advanced health and fitness app you’ll ever find, it covers the basics well enough.

To get active and achieve your health objectives, you don’t require a brand-new wearable. Take a look at your existing smartphone. The majority of us have dozens of third-party apps on our phones, but you might be surprised by how much your Apple or Android phone can do out of the box, including tracking your health and fitness. You don’t need to look around for applications or make an immediate purchase of a new gadget if you want to start working on your physical fitness—perhaps following the disruption of a global pandemic—because everything you need to get started is already on your phone.

Highlights

  • Google Fit records activity in terms of heart points. DAVID NIELD VIA GOOGLE. Before you do anything else, set yourself some goals for each day: Tap Profile, and tell Google Fit how many steps you want to do every day and how many heart points you want to aim for. On the same screen, you can enter your birthday, your weight, and your height, which means the app can more accurately assess and calculate your stats.

  • The home screen of the app is dominated by two rings, showing heart points (which are earned through any kind of moderate activity) and steps. Scroll down that main screen and you’ll see everything else that Google Fit can monitor, from sleep to weight. You might eventually want to install some third-party apps to track these metrics, but you can also enter data for them manually (or just ignore them for the time being).

Further down the line, you can buy extras like smartwatches and chest straps to track other kinds of activity, but when you’re just getting started you can add these workouts manually. From the front screen of Google Fit, tap the plus button (lower right) and choose Add activity. You’re able to specify the type of activity you’ve completed and how long it took, and give an estimate of how hard it got your heart working.

When it comes to walking and running, Google Fit should automatically log your movements—if this doesn’t seem to be happening, go to the Android Settings screen then tap Apps and notifications, See all apps, Fit, and Permissions to make sure the app is allowed to keep track of your physical activity through movements detected by your smartphone. Just make sure you keep your phone with you, and you’ll start to build up a picture of your daily exercise.

Google Fit does an impressive job of collecting up all the data it amasses and presenting it in a clean and easy-to-read way. Tap on the Your daily goals tab from the home screen to see steps and heart points broken down by day, by week, or by month. You can also open up the Journal tab to see all of your activities broken down one by one—in the case of walks and runs, you can see how long they took, how many heart points you earned, and even where you went on a map. Switch to the Profile tab, tap the cog icon at the top, and then go into Coaching messages if you want to change how Google Fit gets in touch with you. From this screen, you can enable or disable reminders about hitting your daily goals, for example, and switch on recommendations from the app about different activities to try, if you want them.

You might not have realized it, but Google Calendar is actually a handy companion to Google Fit, because it lets you set activity goals and get reminders about them. In Google Calendar, tap the plus button in the lower right-hand corner, then choose Goal and Exercise. Pick the type of exercise you want to do and how often you want to do it, and Google Calendar will try and keep you on track with a schedule and reminders. If you have an iPhone, then Apple Health is built right in. It’s more comprehensive than Google Fit in terms of what it can track, and in terms of what it’s trying to do—it’ll store all kinds of information about your health records and medical history if you want it to, besides everything from how many times you brush your teeth to the types of food you’re eating each day.

A lot of this data can be piped in through third-party apps, but you don’t have to add these straight away. From the beginning, Apple Health will keep an eye on your walks and your runs through the day: If you tap on the Health entry in the main iOS Settings app, then choose Data Access & Devices and your iPhone, you can set the types of data the app is allowed to record, from the flights of stairs climbed each day to the steps you’ve taken.

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