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Lockdown sees big rise in mobile health & fitness app spending

Stuck at home during lockdown, consumers have turned to smartphone apps to help boost their health, fitness and mindfulness.

Downloads of Health & Fitness category mobile apps across Europe reached 829.5 million in 2020, increasing by around 46% year-on-year, according to Store Intelligence data from Sensor Tower. In the previous year, installs rose by just 7.4% to 568.6 million.

Lady doing home workout

The peak of the downloads came in the second quarter, at the height of the first Covid-19 lockdowns, with the peak in revenue following in the third quarter.

For the whole year, European spending in Health & Fitness category apps jumped by 70.2% to an estimated $544.2m (£398.2m). This followed an impressive 37.2% rise in 2019.


The top titles driving spending last year included fitness app Strava along with mindfulness apps Calm and Headspace. The biggest spending market was the UK, which accounted for 29.5% of the total, followed by Germany (16.4%) and France (10.4%).

When it comes to getting people up and about, the good news is that mobile apps and activity trackers are effective in improving physical activity. A recent Australian study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that interventions involving smartphone apps and activity trackers increased participants’ physical activity by an average of 2,000 steps per day.

smart watch user

“This level of increase has the potential to lower the risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, as well as improve quality of life and reduce the risk of premature death,” said lead author Dr Liliana Laranjo from the University of Sydney.

“Interventions using smartphone apps or activity trackers seem promising from a clinical and public health perspective, promoting a significant increase in physical activity,” added co-author Associate Professor Melody Ding.


A separate study published by Associate Professor Ding in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that online interest in exercise has reached an all-time high during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This increase of community interest in exercise together with support for behavioural change offered by fitness trackers presents a great opportunity to boost physical activity in the community,” she said.


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