But end users warned not become over-reliant on fitness apps and wearables
With over three quarters of Brits saying they have used a fitness app, MyFitnessPal has come out top in a survey of the most popular apps for monitoring health and fitness. However, people that use fitness apps and wearables to aid their exercise have been warned not to become too reliant on technology.
A survey of 500 men and women aged18 to 55 in the UK revealed that 79% of respondents use or have previously used fitness technology, with just 21% stating they have never used a fitness app before.
Conducted by UK-based health and fitness education provider, HFE, 79% of the respondents had used a fitness app at some point, with the calorie counting software MyFitnessPal leading the poll for apps that aid with an exercise or weight loss routine, with 28% of the votes.
Nike+ featured second on the list at 20% of votes, with wearable tech giant FitBit accounting for 15% of the poll. Apple Watch, which launched in April 2015, had been used by just 8% of the audience.
But this growing reliance on technology may not be beneficial, said Dan Duran, a leading personal trainer and director at PTA Global: “Many people feel ‘naked’ when they aren’t wearing technology and will forego exercise until they have their device. Research has also shown that [fitness applications]are only 70% to 85% accurate, so just because the software says that you burned 500 calories doesn’t necessarily give you a free pass to eat an additional 500 calories.
“We must remember that ultimately it is our lifestyle that needs changing, and it is important that we continue to encourage permanent lifestyle changes independent of technology,” he concluded
Popular fitness applications now include calorie counters, training programmes, meal plans and activity trackers. MyFitnessPal initially launched as a calorie counting app and has since branched out into a more holistic fitness tracking application; the company was recently bought by fitness fashion giant Under Armour for $475 million.
The poll also highlighted a trend towards ‘gamified’ fitness applications like “Zombies, Run!” (2%) that provides entertainment alongside the user’s exercise. The app, released in 2012, pits the user against a pack of imaginary zombies that chase you through your route; points are scored for successfully completing ‘episodes’ while also gathering supplies and rescuing survivors. By involving a game element the developers hope to increase retention and help users stay motivated towards achieving their goals.
Duran added that HFE’s survey mirrors broader industry trends and a growing uptake in fitness technology which correlates to an overall increase in gym memberships and fitness expenditure in the UK.