Use of wearables led to rise in physical activity despite pandemic curbs

Huawei has released the findings of their newest research project on the effect wearable fitness trackers have had on individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. While general mobility was restricted in many countries during the pandemic, this new study has found that not all consumers saw their physical activity decline.

In fact, the report has found that users who began using a new health and fitness wearable or app for the first time during the pandemic, were on average twice as likely to increase their physical activity than those who followed their established routines (in the same timeframe).

This study was based on an online survey conducted by YouGov of 18,358 respondents across China, France, Germany, Italy, UK, and the US. Unlike other mainstream reports, this study focused on actual device and app usage rather than ownership or download rates.

The findings were based on an online survey conducted by YouGov of 18,358 respondents.

“We were surprised to find some of the most avid users of digital tracking in the 55-plus age group,” admitted Dr. Anna Schneider. “In Germany, France, and Italy, these respondents actively follow more metrics than younger tracking users.” The study also found that tracking physical activity was more likely to push users in the 55+ age group to increase their exercise intensity than younger ones. The study concluded that increased adoption of health and fitness technologies can go a long way to improve physical activity among aging populations.

“Today’s wearables and apps are much more capable than previous generations, and the survey indicates users make full use of this” said Dr. René Arnold, Huawei’s VP for Public Affairs Strategy who also played a key role in designing the study and analyzing the data. “On average, users track between four and five metrics relating to their body functions and physical activity. Consistently, more than 70% of tracking users find their devices and apps helpful in achieving their fitness and health goals.”

Schneider is a professor of business psychology at Hochschule Fresenius University and has made a name for herself in market research for over 20 years. She regularly advises public and private organizations on surveys and qualitative research projects. Her research focuses on the impact of digitalization on consumer behavior, and how people communicate and interact with emerging technologies. This report showed that there is significant potential for bringing this technology into the workplace. “Employees in our survey are ready to welcome health and fitness technology into the workplace if it makes employers more mindful of their employees’ specific needs,” said Schneider. “Around half of them agree that it would be great if the employer used such technology to tailor breaks to their needs.”

“We were particularly glad to see that the positive impact of wearables and apps is really inclusive,” continued Arnold whose own research spans digital economy, internet policy and impact assessments of regulatory frameworks. Unlike previous studies, the increase of exercise intensity associated with tracking was similar across income brackets in all six countries. These results suggest that the user friendliness of devices and apps may be as important as price when it comes to broad technology adoption. Newer health and fitness technologies produce smart content and recommendations that are significantly easier for users to interpret and use to improve their fitness routines. Older generations of devices and apps forced users to interpret raw data on their own.


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