Mobile Fitness Apps – Adoption Not so Healthy


By: Debra Fin, Vice President; Jennifer Brown, Research Director

Given all the advertising, you would think that everyone, and I mean everyone, is using a fitness or health and wellness app to organize or track his or her every step, pill, or healthcare encounter. Not so much.

In fact, much of that advertising seems to be heard by one distinct segment.

How do we know?

Morpace conducts a monthly random survey of the American population 18 years and older exploring consumer preferences and trends across all 50 states in our Omnibus Survey. A minimum of 1,000 individuals from Morpace’s online panel complete a variety of questions and share their demographics with us. From April 2015 to September 2015, we collected more than 6,000 responses to questions about health and wellness apps and got an interesting view of the population who has used a mobile app.

The NOs Have It

A full six out of ten of all respondents have not used an app for health and fitness activities in the last six months. These individuals are likely to be Caucasian males, 55 years or older and have an annual income of $50,000 or less. They are likely to have Medicare or no health insurance coverage.

HC app use 1

Of the total sample, only 18% are using apps to track their exercise/activity level and/or calories burned.  Those tracking weight (13%) and calorie (12.9%) intake come in a close second and third.

When we asked if our respondents would use a mobile app in the future for healthcare related activities, we got a similar picture. Over half (58%) did not see themselves using a mobile app for healthcare related tasks in the future. A significantly higher proportion of these respondents are the same group that has not used one—older white males. This group is known to be highly resistant to health related behavior change.

The Sweet Spot

So who is using these apps?

Females 18-34 years old are those likely to use a mobile app for health care related tasks. A significant proportion of these women has a household income of $100,000 or more and has insurance through their employer or spouse. These individuals are likely already engaged in health and wellness activities and have the financial and lifestyle means to pursue activities supporting fitness, including smartphones, club memberships, fitness gear, and such.

HC app use 2

The Kicker

Improving health…it is about knowing and doing those things that contribute to better health. It is all about behavior change. If mobile apps are to be a part of the solution to better health, then they have to be attractive enough to encourage wide scale adoption.

You can lead a horse to water…but can you get them to use mobile fitness apps?