How People Are Using Smartwatches to Lose Weight and Stay Healthy

The most popular category of applications used on smartwatches are health and fitness-related, according to a survey by research firm Parks Associates.

More than three out of four heads of U.S. households who own and use a smartwatch said they track their steps with their device. Another 60% monitor their heart rates and 53% use the wrist-worn devices to count calories. Among all smartwatch owners, 41% say their most commonly used app is to count calories or reach weight loss goals.

“The market for connected wellness and fitness devices and wearables is surging as people realize their health benefits,” Kristen Hanich, senior analyst at Parks Associates, noted in the report.

The data should come as little surprise to smartwatch makers like Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin that have increasingly honed in on adding health and fitness features as the most likely way to attract new customers. Apple’s new watch software this year is adding fitness trend statistics and female health tracking, while last year Apple added an electrocardiogram feature to the watch. And Fitbit has added what it calls the “PurePulse” heart rate app to calculate how much time the wearer spends in different heart rate zones during exercise, a boon to those who stay in shape using a cardio training program.

While many devices have built in step counting and heart rate monitoring, users are installing popular smartwatch apps like MyFitnessPal and Waterminder on the Apple Watch or Eat Slow and Water Logged on Fitbit to make it more convenient to track their food and water intake right on their wrist.

About one-quarter of U.S. households with broadband service own at least one connected smartwatch or connected fitness tracker, Parks Associates said.

The newest trend is smartwatch owners signing up for subscription services to provide additional health tracking, coaching, and fitness encouragement. Fitbit last month announced its new premium plan, which will cost $10 per month and offer detailed health reports, personalized fitness advice, and access to so-called wellness programs, like those on the meditation app Headspace.

The “emergence of new types of players in the connected fitness market–such as Peloton–shows the potential for new business models beyond hardware sales,” Hanich said in the report. “We are starting to see connected fitness products paired with subscription services, classes, and other online and streaming content that lead to ongoing revenue.”

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