If you use a smartwatch or a fitness tracker to track your activity, heart rate, or sleep quality, you are among the millions of adults who use wearable devices today. According to the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020 carried out by the American College of Sports Medicine, wearable tech is going to be the top fitness trend during the upcoming year.
Wearable fitness technologies have become a key part of today's fitness culture, and the industry is only expanding. Thanks to various technological advances, it's easier than ever to collect important health metrics and develop a healthy lifestyle, manage chronic diseases, increase the efficiency of exercise, and — ultimately — improve the quality of life.
In this article, we zoom in on the most significant trends and statistics in wearable fitness technology to show you the potential of this massive market, both today and in the future.
What is wearable fitness technology?
Fitness trackers and wearables are today far more affordable, accessible, and capable of capturing all kinds of health data that are relevant to target audiences of such products. By investing in a gadget such as a smartwatch or other wearable device equipped with cutting-edge features, users can keep track of their health even when they are asleep.
Such devices can also send real-time texts and are often connected to other applications users can download on their smartphones. Some fitness trackers also feature powerful reporting capabilities that help users to analyze their progress — and potentially offer doctors relevant data to make an accurate diagnosis.
Wearable fitness technology — key statistics for 2020
- According to a recent report, the wearable technology market was worth over $50 billion in 2019. This means that the market doubled in size since 2014.
- Which technologies are driving the growth of this market? Its expansion is driven primarily by products such as smartwatches, continuous glucose monitoring devices, headphones, as well as applications using augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR).
- Another research study claims that by 2023, the market for global fitness trackers will reach $62.128 million, growing at the CAGR of 19.6%.
- The revenue from the top 10 fitness and healthcare apps increased by 61% last year to reach a smashing $327 million globally. Moreover, the number of fitness app users is expected to surpass 353 million by 2022.
- Note that health and fitness apps show the highest retention rate across all of the app categories. In fact, 96% of users use only one health and fitness app. This means that once they start using it, they easily become dedicated to it.
- According to a study carried out by Statista, the total number of wearable users connected to the 4G network in 2017 was 526 million. In 2022, this number is expected to reach 900 million active users. This suggests that wearable fitness gadgets such as wristbands or smartwatches are going to become a life necessity for many consumers.
A survey carried out by Gallup shows even more interesting details of the wearable fitness technology market in the United States (which is the second-largest market for wearable devices in the world).
- 90% of American consumers said that they are currently using a wearable fitness tracker.
- The same percentage said that they currently use a mobile health app.
- By combining the present use with the percentages of Americans who claim that they have used such devices in the past, it becomes clear that at some point one in three Americans use the fitness tracker such as a smartwatch or wristband (34%) or tracked their health statistics on the phone or tablet app (32%).
What about the users of wearable fitness technology?
The Gallup report points to several segments in the user groups of wearable fitness tech:
- Income: Around half of US adults in upper-income households were either current or former users or fitness trackers and health. About 30% of adults in middle-income households use such products. In lower-income households, one in four consumers has ever used such technology.
- Location: Wearable fitness technologies are a key gadget for the urban population. In the report, 35% or more of the city or suburban residents reported having used such products, while fewer than 30% of inhabitants of rural areas have ever used one.
- Gender: Fitness trackers and health apps tend to be a bit more popular among women than they are among men.
- Age: Adults younger than 55 are twice as likely to have used such products than adults aged 55 and older.
When put together, gender and age differences accentuate the tendencies and use of such technology. Almost half of women younger than 50 report having used such products, while men aged 50 or older are the least likely group among the four gender-age groups to report having used them.
3 trends in wearable fitness technology
1. Wearables in insurance
Thanks to the growing popularity of wearable devices, insurers can now reduce the rising cost per patient by using them as a means of increasing the customer lifetime value.
How does it work? By equipping their customers with wearable technologies, insurers can incentivize behaviors to reduce hospital admissions or eliminate unhealthy lifestyle choices and poorly managed personal health.
Most people who use such devices agree that wearables help them to become more aware of their health and inspire them to improve their diet and exercise regime. In this future, more insurance companies will look into the possibility of making wearable technology one of their key strategies.
2. Fitness tracking for employees
Organizations across various industries see many benefits in offering wearable healthcare fitness technologies to their employees.
According to Business Insider Intelligence research, a healthier corporate culture reduces employee turnover. Employers that offer five or more health best practices to their staff reported having an average turnover of 18%. Organizations that offer two or fewer such practices saw a turnover of 29%.
Access to wearable fitness technology could become a significant work for employees who want to stay healthy and appreciate their employer's support in achieving this objective. After all, it's also in the interest of employers that their staff is healthy and productive.
3. The rise of smartwatches
According to Statista, the number of wearable devices worldwide will double between 2019 and 2022. Among them, smartwatches will be the ones to gain more popularity. They're going to grow by 50% to 150 million units shipped in 2022. This constitutes more than shipments of PCs or even smartphones!
Naturally, smartwatches are becoming a key wearable fitness technology today. Users can connect them to many different apps and track many types of data. Most of the time, a smartwatch can be used as a standalone tracking device, lowering the barrier of access and delivering a great experience to its users. That's why smartwatches are going to become such a critical part of this industry in the near future.
The wearable fitness technology is going to become increasingly prominent in the future as more and more consumers become aware of their health and aim to improve their quality of life. Wearing a smartwatch or wristband that tracks your sleep, activity, and exercise is going to become a standard among consumers who care about their health.
But the wearable fitness technology is only one among the many rising trends at the intersection of healthcare and digital technologies that will dominate the market in the future. If you'd like to learn more, keep a close eye on our blog, where our experts publish their insights about the future of digital healthcare.
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- American College of Sports Medicine, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020
- IDTechEx, Wearable Technology Forecasts 2019-2029
- Allied Market Research, Fitness Trackers Market
- Statista, Fitness – worldwide
- Flurry, Health & Fitness App Users Are Going the Distance with Record-High Engagement
- Statista, Unit shipments of wrist-worn wearables worldwide in 2019 and 2023 (in millions)
- Gallup, Gallup Health Series: ACA, Mental Health, Fitbits and More
- Business Insider Intelligence, Digital Health Briefing
- Statista, Forecast unit shipments of wearable devices worldwide from 2017 to 2019 and in 2022 (in million units), by category