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Published on April 26th, 2021 | by Sunit Nandi

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Fitness Apps: Where is the UK’s Most Digitally Active Location?

The global health/COVID crisis means that active lifestyles have never been more important – a recent study showed the beneficial effects of exercise.

When the first lockdown hit, UK citizens were instructed to limit exercise to just one hour per day. As such, those looking to lead an active lifestyle during the pandemic turned to digital assistance to guide them on their fitness journey.

So, can our digital devices prove more useful to us than simply eroding the boredom of lockdown with Netflix and TikTok?

Mobile apps and smart devices help us track our calories, heart rate, and activities, making them a popular choice for many fitness fanatics. More people have turned to the likes of Fitbit and Strava during the pandemic, aiming to replace the missing experience of exercising in a gym or with others. But have some UK areas sought a more active lifestyle than others during the pandemic?

Using Google search data, one leading manufacturer of joint supplements, Pharma Nord, has investigated which fitness apps and devices have increased their popularity in the past year, and which towns and cities have seen the biggest growth in terms of activity advocacy.

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The most popular apps and devices

There is no shortage of fitness apps and devices on the market. However, some are clearly more popular than others. Across the most popular apps and devices, the UK public searched for Fitbit more than any other. With 550,000 monthly searches, the smartwatch and fitness tracker fought off stiff competition from Strava, a dedicated running app, which had 301,000 searches per month, and MyFitnessPal, a diet and exercise tracker, with 110,000 searches per month.

The most active place

Across the 53 most populated towns and cities in the UK, there were strong searches for these fitness apps and devices. However, some locations showed more motivation to start their fitness journeys than others.

Surprisingly, the people of Inverness were identified as having searched for fitness apps and devices the most when compared to all other UK towns and cities. With 1,560 average searches per month, the city had the highest proportion of their population looking for fitness apps. In fact, the people of Inverness searched for fitness apps 117 per cent more than the average person in the UK.

Behind the Scottish city was Chester, which searched for popular fitness apps and devices 80 per cent more than the UK average, and Exeter which searched 46 per cent more than average.

The least active location

While the likes of Inverness and Chester showed their advocacy for fitness apps and devices, other towns and cities fared less well. The Google searches found that Royal Turnbridge Wells was the least likely to search for the digital tools. The people of the western Kent town were 82 per cent less likely to ask Google for these apps and devices than the rest of the UK.

Only slightly better performing were Newport and Swansea, whose searches were 77 per cent and 72 per cent below the UK average.

Most Digitally Active Locations
Most Active UK LocationsLeast Active Locations
RankLocationPercent Above UK AverageRankLocationPercent Below UK Average
1Inverness117%1Royal Tunbridge Wells-82%
2Chester80%2Newport-77%
3Exeter46%4Swansea-72%
4Lisburn45%3Cardiff-62%
5Bristol45%5Bangor-52%

Activity seeking

The data also revealed the core aims of the public in searching for fitness apps. Alongside the known branded applications, people also searched for apps to help them with specific activities. The most common of these was ‘running app’, which amassed 6,600 searches per month in the UK.

However, it’s not just exercise apps people were looking to for help with their health. In second place, searches for ‘meditation app’ and ‘sleep app’ each achieved 4,400 searches per month.

There has been a strong focus on mental health during the pandemic. The virus and the isolation of lockdown have caused considerable anxiety among the public. Using your phone to help improve your mental wellbeing and improve your sleep can be just as important as taking care of your physical health.

Other high volume searched apps include ‘walking app’ also with 4,400 searches, ‘step counter app’ with 3,600 searches, and ‘cycling app’ with 2,900 searches.

Of the most populated towns and cities in the UK, Lisburn focussed the most on searching for specific activities. They searched for core activity apps 246 per cent more than the average UK town or city. Meanwhile, Bradford searched for these apps the least, falling 78 per cent below the average UK search scores.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has been made easier with the help of our phones and the use of smartwatches. They can track everything, from steps, heart rate, and even our sleeping patterns. The past year has emphasised the need to stay active, and for those looking to start on their fitness journey, your phone may be the best port of call.

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About the Author

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I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.



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