Mobile operator finds more people use smartphones for diet than exercise

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 2, 2013        

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Couch-to-5KMobile operator US Cellular released new data on consumer use of health and fitness apps. Just 10 percent of US Cellular customers use a mobile phone or tablet for health or fitness on a regular basis, according to a survey conducted on behalf of the company by Consumer Insights. The survey of 527 post-paid customers was conducted online in early April.

That 10 percent figure is pretty close to the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s figure from November of last year, which found that 11 percent of all mobile phone users had downloaded an app to help track or manage their health (a figure that’s been roughly unchanged since 2010).

In the US Cellular survey, of those who used a mobile phone or tablet for health and fitness regularly, 64 percent said they used it to look up nutritional information, 61 percent said they used it to track nutritional intake (like a calorie counter app) and only 56 percent said they used it to track workouts, the company told MobiHealthNews in an email. Interestingly, Pew’s results found app users more likely to have downloaded fitness apps (38 percent) than diet apps (31 percent).

US Cellular also found that out of all smartphone users, 16 percent use their phones to help them eat healthier meals and 12 percent said their devices help them spend less time planning and preparing meals. Additionally, 9 percent said mobile devices helped them stay in better shape and 8 percent said mobile health devices helped them lose weight.

Eleven percent use their phones to either increase their workout frequency or to help them stay on a regular exercise schedule. Finally, the survey found that 10 percent of smartphone users used their phones to help “manage or treat a health issue successfully.”

US Cellular mentioned several apps in its press release about the data: workout app Couch-to-5k, a Google Play app called Restaurant Nutrition, and Water Your Body, an app for keeping track of daily hydration.

The health and fitness data was part of US Cellular’s Better Moments survey, which sought to take a long view of how customers use their smartphones, how smartphones enrich their lives, and what areas smartphones could be improving but are falling short in. The survey found that 69 percent of respondents “don’t fully utilize the features and services on their phones” and “of those, about 31 percent say they want to use more features but don’t know how.”

In response to the survey findings, the company released guidelines for creating a parent-child agreement about mobile phone use and scheduled several workshops around the country to teach people about more things they can do with their phones.

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