Digital fitness technology motivates users to train more often, study shows

Fitness applications and wearable technology are motivating recreational athletes to train harder and more frequently, according to a new study by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the Official Technology Partner of the London Marathon.

The IT consulting company surveyed 2,000 British recreational athletes, revealing that 82% use some kind of fitness technology, such as smartphone apps, fitness trackers, wearable devices, GPS trackers or heart-rate monitors.

Three quarters said they exercise more since they started using fitness technology, with one in ten exercising at least twice as frequently. For 57%, fitness technology motivates them to exercise more regularly and 59% said that it motivates them to train harder.

Meanwhile, four in ten people said that since using fitness technology to track their activity, they are more likely to take the stairs instead of using a lift or escalator.

When it comes to buying new fitness gadgets and apps, men tend to spend more than women. For example, the average male runner has spent £93 on fitness technology overall, compared to £72 for the average female.

What are they buying? Well, wearable fitness trackers are the most popular option, used by more than one in three (37%), while smartwatches are less commonly used, with just under one in five (18%) respondents using them while exercising.

For suppliers of fitness technology, the future looks bright: TCS found that recreational athletes in the UK have spent an average of £83 on fitness technology in total, and they plan to keep on spending in the next 12 months. The average expected spend on digital fitness apps and devices in the coming year is £56, with men expecting to spend £64 on fitness technology compared to £48 for women.

More than half (51%) of runners plan to spend more than £40 on fitness technology in the next 12 months, and 17% will spend over £100.

Thinking about the innovations they hope to see in the future, 40% of respondents said they would like fitness technology to be able to give them personalised health data, such as bespoke nutritional advice based on performance. Better data is more popular than the Internet of Things (36%), Artificial Intelligence (29%) or Augmented Reality technology (29%).

The survey also found that one in three people (32%) would like to use Virtual Reality headsets to simulate different locations while training, and one in eight (13%) would be interested in using a drone to allow them to livestream a video of their run.

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