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Track and Race: Competitive Brits’ keep fighting fit thanks to tracking tech

It has emerged that a staggering three-quarters (76%) use technology to track aspects of their health, activity and other parts of their life.

4 in 10 (39%) also admit to tracking their wellbeing data every single day and a whopping three-quarters (73%) say their fitness apps and trackers are responsible for keeping them healthy.

Even more impressively, more than six in ten (61%) claim the data they track would help them notice health issues faster – more crucial than ever as the NHS continues to feel the strain from the Covid 19 pandemic.

But it’s our competitiveness that’s really helping to keep us fighting fit.

  • Over half (53%) of those polled via OnePoll like to see how active their friends and family are – with Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram the most popular apps for tracking friends’ fitness
  • Three fifths (58%) regularly compare their activity levels to others to keep them motivated
  • Two fifths (42%) admit to getting more competitive with fitness when they see other people beating them on their apps

What’s more, over half (56%) claim to feel more empowered when tracking certain elements of their life as they enjoy the competition with themselves, and a third (32%) are more motivated to stay active thanks to this data.

A quarter (24%) get annoyed if they don’t reach their fitness goals each day and 29% have gone out for an extra walk to make sure they reach their step count.

More than four in 10 (41%) have also achieved some kind of fitness challenge or health goal thanks to their tracking device.

Of those, 41% have hit 10,000 steps a day, the same number have lost weight and a third (32%) have increased their sleep – proving that trackers help us achieve what’s recommended by medical professionals.

Nury Moreira, Healthcare Lead at the IET commented: “Now we can track data on all elements of our lives, it is easy to see how active – or inactive – we really are.

As our research has identified, it can become rather compelling and if you miss a day of tracking your data you can suddenly feel lost or out of the loop.

“People are more conscious about their health than ever before - whether it is for health purposes or to keep yourself organised and in routine, tracking parts of your life can really help.

Whilst it’s great that technology can help keep you on top of your goals, it is important to ensure that fitness trackers are not changing behaviour for the worse – such as becoming fixed on reaching certain everyday targets.”

Of those who track areas of their lives, 42% didn’t realise how unfit they were until they started downloading tracking apps or owned a smartwatch or fitness tracker.

But now they track their health and wellbeing, more than half believe they are more likely to notice issues around their heart rate, fertility and sleep, faster.

It is 25–34-year-olds who keep an eye on their weight, spending habits and sleep the most but those aged 35-44 are more likely to track their working hours, what they eat and blood pressure.

Nury Moreira added: “Technology has become a big part of our lives and there is pretty much nothing you can’t do when it comes to your phone.

Wearable tech in particular has become so popular that there are not many people that don’t track some element of their lives.

"Our research has shown that sharable data has now also driven some friendly competitiveness between adults. As long as this continues to make us all more aware of our health and wellbeing then it is great to see. 

However, given the pervasive yet nearly imperceptible potential for surveillance, the need for transparency and security has never been greater. It’s also important to remember that trackable devices give an overall picture of health and wellbeing but can’t replace health professionals.”

20 things Brits actively track

    1. Weight
    2. How many steps they do
    3. Spending habits
    4. Exercise
    5. Sleep
    6. Working hours
    7. What they eat
    8. Blood pressure
    9. Heart rate
    10. Calories consumed
    11. Water intake
    12. Menstrual cycle / ovulation
    13. Calories burnt
    14. How many books they read
    15. Alcohol consumption
    16. How much overtime they do
    17. How much screen time they have
    18. Time spent on social media
    19. Running routes
    20. Chocolate intake


Notes to editors:

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