Technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives – transforming our day to day existence. Digital fitness technology is no exception. We have seen smartphone applications, fitness trackers and wearables grow in popularity over recent years, but what impact are they really having on our society? Are they simply part of cyclical attempts to lose weight, or is there a bigger impact taking place here?
Our Digital Fitness survey launched around this year’s London Marathon examined the impact digital technologies are having on the UK’s health and fitness. Based on a study of over 2,000 Brits, the research reveals that 37 per cent of the general British public now use some form of fitness, health or wellness technology. Moreover, the survey reveals how digital technology is key in boosting the health and well-being of the general British public.
While it is recommended we walk 10,000 steps a day, (that’s almost five miles), the average Brit is only running or walking 12.39 miles per week. However the survey shows that technology is a vital fitness motivator with over three quarters (77 per cent) of Brits who use fitness technology saying the amount they walk or run each week has increased since using these devices or apps and a quarter (25 per cent) saying it has increased ‘significantly’.
Striving for wellness
Digital technology is also transforming the way we think about our health and fitness. Beyond driving us to exercise more, greater emphasis is now also being placed on the overall goal of achieving wellness. Nearly a third of Brits (30 per cent) who use fitness, health or wellness technology state that it has increased their desire to change their lifestyle to focus more on wellness and 25 per cent say it makes them feel more accountable for their overall health and well-being.
A massive 81 per cent of full-time mums and dads who use fitness, health or wellness technology, say having access to data from such devices enables them to improve their well-being. Almost one in ten Brits (nine per cent) say increasing their use of fitness devices has been the biggest positive impact on their well-being in the last 12 months.
Digital technology in sport is a fantastic example of how technology can fundamentally transform society. Technology has always been important in elite sport, but in recent years the rise of digital technology has led to a revolution in the digital tools available to both recreational athletes and now the general public.
Social media, smartphone applications, fitness trackers and wearables are combining to give the general public a wealth of data to support their activities and even boost performance – in a simple and affordable way. This is the kind of insight that was previously only available to those with significant resources and illustrates one of the many ways in which digital is reshaping the way we live and work.
Spreading to the workplace
With this significant transformation taking place, Brits are now looking to employers to further support them on this journey. The survey reveals that a third (33 per cent) of respondents who work say they believe fitness, health or wellness devices should form part of their company’s employee benefit scheme.
This figure rises to 44 per cent of Brits in the 16-24 age group and 36 per cent of survey respondents who live and work in London. At TCS, we have invested heavily in creating an online, global community of employees with our Fit4Life app. It’s one of the ways we encourage our staff to be healthier and engage with colleagues no matter where they are based – with the added benefit of a little healthy competition.
The next step
As we continue to embrace digital fitness technology, there will be many new devices and tools to help us on our journey to health and wellness. From virtual reality headsets simulating different locations and courses, to robotic personal trainers acting as pace-setters or coaches; digital fitness transformation has only begun. The pace of change is also staggering and one that we should embrace wholeheartedly.
If we need a reminder of how far technology has come, we only have to look at the London Marathon itself; 1981 was the year of the first race, two years before Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet. Technology and how it could be used to develop athletes and their performance was not even a consideration. Just 36 years later, technology incorporated into the marathon has revolutionised the experience of everyone involved, from runner to spectator.
Nupur Mallick is director of HR at TCS UK and Ireland.
Further reading on fitness technology
Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!