The interest in health and fitness is growing as awareness grows among individuals about the benefit of leading a healthy lifestyle. The interest in fitness aiding technologies is also on the rise, especially wearable devices such as a smartwatch. To aid these smart devices in becoming companions for individual’s fitness and health-related activities, mobile applications are needed. Health and fitness applications can be divided into following categories –
- Fitness Tracking, data storage and management
- Nutrition and diet guide
- Fitness activity
- Medical and general health companion
Figure 1: Flurry Analytics, July, 2017
As per a recent research by Flurry Analytics, demand for b health and fitness apps has grown by 330% in 3 years, with 25% users accessing their fitness apps more than 10 times a week.
Notable Health and Fitness App Trend
Health and fitness app users tend to show great brand loyalty. Once they have found an application that matches their fitness goals, they continue to use it. As per Flurry Analytics findings, 96% users use only one health and fitness app. workout and weight loss apps are immensely popular and account for nearly three-quarters of all fitness and health app sessions. The growth in the usage of wearables such as fitness bands may be attributed to this trend as it encourages users to stay on the move by tracking their weight and activity levels daily.
Understanding these trends
For the fitness enthusiast, it would not be far-fetched to be saying that they are addicted to their fitness applications. Also, for those who are using health companion guides to keep track of their diet or medication, they rely on these applications to send them reminders and to enable them to make healthy choices.
Figure 2: Flurry Analytics, August, 2017
The demand for studio and fitness apps is highest and users have voiced their need for using their mobile application through their workout session. Due to this preference, gyms and studios are offering an application that users can use during their workout sessions. The health and fitness app industry witnesses highest retention rate, though there will be usage seasonal usage fluctuation. For instance, people tend to use this app lesser during the holiday seasons and weekends. Users who use the application more than 10 times per week are the ones who drive constant engagement.
A Gartner study forecast suggests over 310 million wearables will be sold in 2017 and a PwC study shows that health is the primary motivation for people buying wearable devices and hence there is substantial scope for health and fitness application growth.
Understanding Fitness App Functions
The various health and fitness apps segments can be combined and offered as a single app or they can be offered with individual features. Let us see what features will work for each segment.
Fitness Activity Apps
A fitness activity app is the broadest category though its focus is mainly on exercises. The application primarily shows different types of exercises and how to perform them. These can have features such as –
- Personal trainer
- Audio video guides
- Fitness apps to pair with devices
Users seek apps that can be tailored to their needs and their proficiency levels. A simple option that allows a user to set their level of proficiency and gives them options to increase it as they progress is an essential feature of these apps.
Fitness Tracking, Data Storage and management
The primary function of these apps is to track and store information of workouts. Generally they are clubbed with apps of all categories, but it can be created as a standalone application for users who do not rely on apps for their regime but only want to keep track of their activities. These apps are often designed for wearable devices and currently enjoy great market demand. Even people who do not go the gym or pursue any form of sports can use these applications to keep track of their movements. They can get data such as a number of steps taken, calories burnt, heart rate, pulse rate, and blood pressure among other things. Integrating the geolocation feature helps track distance covered and add fun facts such as where they could have reached. Smart alarm clock integration can be used by a user to wake up during the REM sleep phase, improving their productivity.
Nutrition and diet guide
These apps are geared to assist in weight loss by counting calories consumed and burned, controlling water balance and encouraging healthy eating habits. A log book can be used to note down amount details of food and drinks consumed throughout the day to calculate total calories consumed. These apps can have a level of complexity by having functions that will calculate BMR and inform the user how long it will take them to burn the calories consumed based on their activity levels. It can create grocery shopping list for the user and help them stick to a healthy nutrition.
Medical and general health companion
These applications are designed for niche markets such as users who are suffering from an illness such as heart ailments, blood pressure, and diabetes etc. They may be designed for the smart device or for specialised medical devices that are designed for these purposes and will be in demand among hospitals and medical practitioners. Applications can perform activities such as giving alerts for medication time or sending a warning when any activity is leading to rising in blood pressure or sugar levels. It can also send SOS signal to people whose details are listed as emergency contact.
Features for these apps
- Account creation
The user has to create an account since these apps have access across users mobile and desktop devices so that they can keep round the clock track of their activities. Furthermore, they will log their profile which is imperative in tracking and recording their progress
- Social media integration
This has become a primary requisite as a user can share details of their progress and workout session with friends and stay motivated to achieve their target. The app can have logged in feature via social media credentials.
- Personal Infor page
Personal information will include –
- Dietary preferences (Veg, non-veg, vegan)
- Profile picture
- Imperial or metric units
- Notifications and In-app messages
Notifications can be pushed as motivational messages informing users of their achievement and how much more they can achieve. In-app messages can inform a user about their workout plan for the day, cheat day or change in regime. It is important to make these messages friendly and have the option to be adjusted as per user preference so that they do not find it intrusive or annoying.
- Target setting
The foundation of fitness and nutrition app is in setting targets. For activity apps it will be to count the number of steps, for nutrition apps it will be to count the amount of calories consumed and for exercise apps to count the activity performed. Targets are elementary for enabling the user to stay motivated.
Gamification will make the entire diet or workout regime a game through competitions, rewards and result comparisons with friends or people with similar goals.
- Chat options
These could be used in exercise and health companion app to seek professional help.
- Wearable device integration
There are multiple manufacturers of wearable devices, some that cater exclusively to the health and fitness market and many that have a broader use, it is important to use their APIs and cover as many devices as possible.
- Number of activities
A basic activity tracking app should cover walking, running, swimming, yoga, and cycling. It must have access to all sensors including accelerometer, compass, geolocation and gyroscope.
There are different ways to capitalize on fitness application. In-app advertising is common, but it may be intrusive for the user. Other options are selling merchandise, creating a donation page or monetary fee n not achieving a target. The market is vast and with some unique features a new app can create its own market.