Who is tracking their fitness, and why?

A recent, international GfK survey, conducted online in 16 countries, shows one in three people (33%) currently monitor or track their health or fitness via an online or mobile application, or via a fitness band, clip, or smartwatch.

China is well in the lead for monitoring health and fitness in this way, with 45% of the online population currently doing this. Brazil and the USA come next, with 29% each, closely followed by Germany (28%) and France (26%).

In most countries studied, men are ahead of women in this activity, but five countries stand out as having a higher percentage of their female than their male online population currently tracking their health and fitness in this way: China (48% of women, compared to 43%t of the men), Russia (21% of women and 17% of men), France (27% and 25%), Australia (20% and 18%), and Canada (20% and 19%). Looking at age, it is those aged 30-39 and 20-29 years old that are most keen on tracking their health and fitness – standing at 41% and 39% of each age group respectively. However, teenagers (15-19 year olds) and the 20-29 year olds both show almost a quarter of their numbers saying that, while they do not currently monitor their health or fitness in this way, they have done so in the past. This suggests potential for bringing this significant number of ‘past users’ back into the market, given the right offers or messages by retailers or manufacturers.

Reasons for tracking health or fitness fitbitimagefinal
Over half (55%) of those who are currently tracking their health and fitness said one of the reasons they do it is “to maintain or improve my physical condition or fitness” – making this the most popular reason internationally.

The next most widespread reason is motivating themselves to exercise, selected by half (50%) of those currently tracking.

Several of the reasons given by those currently tracking health or fitness are a reminder that users of these trackers value them for benefits that are not exclusive to the world of sports. Over a third give “to improve my energy levels” or “to motivate myself to eat and drink healthily” as a reason for tracking their health or fitness, while 29% say “to improve sleep” and a quarter say “to be more productive”. In addition, 22% say “because it’s fun”. Only 14%of those currently tracking their health or fitness say they are doing it “to train for an event.”


Jan Wassmann, global lead for wearables research at GfK, comments, “These findings demonstrate the attraction that health and fitness monitoring has within much wider groups than just the obvious young sports players. Manufacturers and retailers can use these insights – combined with our point-of-sales data on purchases of wearable devices – to understand who are their real-life users and why, and tailor their products to deepen that appeal.”

Download the full findings here.

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