It is no surprise that each activity tracker winds up having their own metric for how to measure overall health and fitness. Google Fit is no different, as they default to a “Heart Points” score.
These are American Heart Association heart points, which are a way to measure total activity over the course of a day, week, or month, based on the amount of time you spend doing activity with an elevated heart rate.
The basic concept is simple, the heart is a muscle that needs to be trained and as with any other muscle, putting some amount of activity on it on a regular basis is a good thing. So how do Heart Points compare to other activity metrics, and what is a good Google Fit heart points score?
In general the AHA guidelines on activity are for a total of 150 minutes weekly of moderate exercise. They caveat this that vigorous exercise effectively counts as 2 to 1, so the target for vigorous exercise is only 75 minutes. These same guidelines also have activity targets for children, which maybe unsurprisingly are actually higher than the guidelines for adults. Since you wind up getting 1 point per moderate minute of activity the total weekly target for Google Fit heart points is only 150 points per week. This means that if you are someone who cycles or runs for distance you very well may be able to achieve your total weekly goal with a single workout since a 1 hr 15 minute run will total 150 heart points. If you are someone who prefers HIIT workouts, a single 12 minute intense session every day will also result in 168 points over the course of the week.
Heart Points Daily Target
The recommended heart points per day target as defined by the American Heart association is only 21 points, The default setting within the Google Fit app though is nearly double that at 40 heart points per day. While this might be misleading it is in line with the idea that not everyday is meant to be a maximum output day. Heart point scores are cumulative and the intuition is to believe that more is always more, but that is not always the case since the body still may need rest.
There is an ability to blow a target out of the water on a single say. A long workout event like a half marathon or a marathon can easily produce 150+ points in just a little over an hour. Most recomendations on training plans will encourage a day off after such an event, but sadly the Google Fit app does not dynamically change the daily target.
In this respect it is unlike things like a Stryd or Whoop score, or even the Strava freshness score, which is designed to showcase when you have hit peak training and may want to consider a day off. Google Fit heart point targets are the same everyday, regardless of how many points you have gathered in the previous few days. This explains why the weekly target is not the same as just taking the daily target and multiplying by 7.
This is also different than other goals like the Apple Watch monthly challenge. Those are dynamic and grow monthly based on your past activity.
Heart Points Vs. Steps (and Other Activity Metrics)
Google Fit heart points vs. 10000 steps daily goal. Standard step trackers are often tied to the simplistic idea that you should gather 10000 steps everyday. While there is limited data suggesting this number ties to an actual study, the 10k number is nice and round. From this standpoint the AHA’s guidelines goes a bit further that ties the activity you do to an elevated heart rate. For someone who walks at a casual pace, it is possible to achieve 10k steps and still not have a single heart point in a day. For those that are concerned about the accuracy of their step tracker, this is good to know since it is slightly harder to get inaccurate heart rate readings for an extended period of time (so long as you are wearing your tracker correctly).
Heart Points vs. Strava Relative Effort. As mentioned above the heart points do not take into account the historical context of how hard you are training. It is similar in this respect then to the Relative Effort and Fitness score within Strava. However the context that is missing is something like the Strava fatigue rating, which effectively goes up each day that you accrue a lot of activity points. If you are trying to just maximize heart points, it is worth considering a counter metric that encourages you to take some more time off and rest.
Heart points vs. Health Mate Fitness Level. When comparing heart points to other metrics it is important to understand when things that feel similar, are not really. A health mate fitness level is a value that should change minimally day to day. It is designed to measure overall fitness, using Vo2 max as a proxy. This is fundamentally different to just showcasing how much activity is happening on a day to day basis. The upside is that taken together these two types of metrics can help influence for long term success. As a result of daily good activity scores the long term fitness measurement metrics should increase. For many runners and cyclists this will be familiar since training plans often focus on a lot of “Zone 2” style workouts. These are low level intensity activities that put the body under a bit of stress but leave plenty of opportunity to quickly recover.
Is Google Fit Not Track All Your Heart Points?
A lot of people seem to have issues with Google Fit missing some heart points. This is more common if you are using a non google (or non Fitbit) tracker.
When using an Apple Watch and Google Fit, only tracked workout activities will get the data to pass for heart points. Even moderate walking, without a tracked activity will often not be counted as heart points. This likely has something to do with the heart rate threshold that Heart points have to be counted which needs to be maintained over time.
If Fit is not counting your Hearst points, make sure you are wearing you tracked correctly. Ensure that the heart rate readings you get make sense too. If you are working out and your heart rate looks to be your minimum you might be wearing the tracker wrong.
Sadly there is often inconsistencies about how heart points are earned with Google Fit. Identical workouts (walks or runs) can vary in how your heart rate is measured. This may mean the same intensity and time of workout but simple measurement errors from the sensors, or different smoothing from the readings by software.
It is important to remember that any “points” system for fitness trackers is there to motivate but is not the end goal. There is no magic health benefit to achieving your heart points or missing it by 2% some day. Streaks of random points also are not a big deal. Try to get consistent counts, but focus on the end goal of wellness over points.