Mobile devices with fitness apps that monitor our physiological data which can then be shared on the social networks aren’t just fun gadgets but can also promote widespread adoption of connected health.

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Is the smartphone becoming an essential health and wellbeing accessory?

According to the findings of surveys by CEA, Mobiquity and Nielsen*, the answer is yes. A smartphone is used by its user on average 150 times a day in the USA, and mobile apps account for the majority of these uses.

In the health & fitness category, virtual coaches and fitness trackers are all the rage: Strava has 100,000 new uses a week, according to The Telegraph*; 40 million personal health & fitness products were sold in 2013, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)*, 27 million in North America alone by the end of the year and an estimated 70 million by 2018. Citrix, meanwhile, reports that the use of fitness apps has doubled in two years (see graph below). The RunKeeper app alone, available for iOS and Android, and featuring free and Premium versions, has been downloaded by 30 million people worldwide.

Smartphones and mobile apps have also begun to attract  fitness clubs, such as the Basic Fit chain, which has 355 clubs in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain, and was assisted by Econocom for its digitalisation project (see below). Using the club’s own app, members can customise the services on offer, such as book virtual fitness classes or make an appointment with a real-life coach for personal fitness and nutrition advice and monitoring.

Apple, Google and Facebook get in on the act

In 70% of cases, health and fitness apps are used  one or more times a day – something which did not escape the attention of the digital giants: Apple launched its HealthKit; Google hit back with Google Fit, and Facebook bought fitness-tracking app Moves from the Finnish startup that created it.

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And it’s more than just a tech craze: a growing number of users say they use wearables to reach health and fitness goals and generally achieve a healthier lifestyle. The most popular features used are, starting with the most popular: calorie-counting (most of the surveys were conducted in North America), weight-watching and fitness-tracking (walking, running and cycling).

The more medically-oriented apps (for diagnoses, medication and communicating with healthcare professionals) don’t yet feature in the top 5 but 34% of users say  they would be prepared to monitor their own health and send the information to a medical organisation if their doctor recommended it.

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Health & fitness apps: promoting better awareness of health and well-being

Fitness tracker users are typically in the 25-44 age bracket – unsurprisingly, as these are both the most likely to engage in physical exercise and are mostly tech-savvy.

According to Uwe Dieger, a German entrepreneur specialising in connected health, such technology will encourage people to take a more proactive approach to their health. As he said in an interview with MedCrunch:* “The concept of Quantified Self is defined by people trying to understand their bodies so that they can prevent problems rather than just be subject to them.”  The Consumer Electronic Association, meanwhile, believe the concept goes even further than this: “The empowering aspect of connected health and wellness devices promises to transform the healthcare industry. Regulators, insurers, and care providers are shifting to a patient-centred approach that engages patients as active participants in their own care management.”

Further reading on emedia: Is the Quantified Self useful for healthcare?

Econocom helps Basic-Fit achieve its growth targets via a digital transformation project

Basic-Fit recently financed a large part of the digital technology at its chain of fitness clubs via a leasing solution provided by Econocom Netherlands. The contract includes state-of-the-art fitness equipment, digital terminals to record automatically all incoming and outgoing visitors and a broadcasting system for communicating with club members.

 

Smartphones, health and fitness: references