Jürg Widmer Probst - fitness apps

Studies show fitness apps are more popular than ever

Coronavirus and the ensuing measures taken by Governments to contain the virus have changed the way we work, socialise and, of course, exercise. Many of us are changing how and where we exercise. With gyms closed and restrictions for many countries restricting outdoor time, fitness apps and home exercising are getting us through.

Whether we choose to do HIIT in our living room, count our steps while we walk round the house, or are now exercising more often outside as lockdown lifts, there’s no doubt that people are exercising in a different way. Lockdown is not only fundamentally altering our collective attitude to health, exercise and looking after ourselves, but it’s changing the way we do so. And most of our actions are now virtual.

Fitness apps more popular than ever due to coronavirus

Data from mobile phone operator EE shows that people in the UK are now relying on apps more than ever. And many of these are exercise specific apps. In addition to a notable increase in video apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, lockdown is also boosting our use of fitness apps.

Between February and May 2020, there has been a huge increase in downloading and use of apps of all kinds. Already popular fitness app Strava now has triple the number of users and data usage compared with figures from before lockdown. The app is used mostly to track cycling, running and walking, although it can also be linked to other devices to track different kinds of exercise too.

MapMyRun is also dealing with higher user numbers. The app’s users and data usage has doubled between February and May as many more people began running outside for their daily exercise.

Interestingly, Fitbit shows considerably lower numbers and data usage on the network compared with pre-lockdown. Of course, this is just one mobile network, but it does show a general trend towards jogging, running and cycling as preferred exercise habits during the pandemic.

Health, wellbeing and nutrition apps are also popular

Meditation, nutrition and relaxation apps are also experiencing higher numbers of users since lockdown began. There has been an overall increase in online use and the way we’re using mobile networks. According to Marc Allera, CEO of the consumer division of BT: “Lockdown has driven huge changes in the way our mobile network is being used.

Fitness apps in particular are leading to huge spikes in data usage by people on the network. In the initial weeks of the lockdown, supermarket orders using mobile apps also spiked, but have now settled to a new normal. It’s likely that the same pattern will occur for health, wellness and fitness apps too, as we all adjust to the new normal.

3 fitness apps to try right now

Here are three of the best fitness apps to take you through lockdown and out the other side:

  1. Aaptiv – this app’s USP is that it gives you a personal trainer to take with you wherever you go. When you log in and record your personal settings, the app creates a weekly plan. Each day you choose form a number of different workouts that aim for your fitness goal. These include everything from stretching to cardio and strength training. Each workout is led by a different personal instructor and comes with a soundtrack.

The app is audio led rather than video, so while you exercise you hear instructions rather than see then. However, there is an archive of video clips so you can check your form. It’s ideal if you only have a small indoor or outdoor space to exercise in.

  1. Fiit – an app that is easiest to use when you hook it up to your TV, Fiit offers hardcore workouts. You really do need to see the movements and exercises to ensure your form is correct and safe. The workouts on offer are challenging and effective, with trainers that help you stay motivated. It needs more space than Apptiv, so it’s one for people who have a decent sized room in which to exercise.
  2. Nike Training Club – this fitness app is for experienced exercisers who already have a good standard of fitness. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners or those returning to exercise after a long gap. This is because the workouts are challenging, with plenty of exercises that will push your strength and endurance. Each workout is broken down into clips that show you exactly how to do each movement. It can be a bit repetitive as it concentrates on repetitious movements, but it is effective. And it’s the only free app on this list, so it has that in its favour.