Digital technology is keeping Britain fit, according to a survey by IT consultancy Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
TCS, two-time sponsors of the London Marathon, which took place yesterday, has released the findings of its Digital Fitness Survey.
The company asked more than 2,000 Brits about their use of digital fitness technologies – including smartphone apps, wearable trackers and smartwatches – to discover the impact it is having on the nation’s fitness.
According to its findings, roughly 37 percent of the British public now use some form of digital technology for fitness, health, or wellbeing purposes, some of whom will have done so in pursuit of their goal of completing yesterday’s marathon.
What gets Brits moving?
It is commonplace these days for fitness trackers to set users the goal of walking at least 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent to almost 5 miles a day or 35 miles per week. This, it is said, is a good target to aim for to keep you fit and healthy.
However, we Brits aren’t quite getting there. Typically, the average Brit walks or runs just 12.39 miles per week.
According to TCS’s survey, though, digital technology could provide the necessary motivation to get Brits moving, as 77 percent of respondents said digital tech has been the key to their fitness drive.
Why? The answer is simple: data. Eighty-six percent of Brits who use a fitness tracker or a smartwatch said that being able to access their health-related data helps them to keep improving.
But it’s more than just numbers. A quarter of Brits who use fitness tech also said they feel more accountable for their own health and wellbeing, while 30 percent said it has increased their desire to change their lifestyle.
While there has been skepticism about the benefits of setting a 10,000 step, one-size-fits-all target, Brits seem enthusiastic about the technology promoting this figure.
Roughly three million fitness devices are sold in Britain each year, and, according to TCS, users are open to even more technology to help them hit their goals.
Twenty-three percent of Brits aged 16-24 and 45-54 say they would use a sensor that monitors their all-round health and fitness if they could, and 22 percent of 25-34 year olds would be open to using some form of virtual reality (VR) to simulate different running courses.
Keep on running
It appears that simulated running environments may face stiff competition, though, at least for now.
According to the organizers of this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, 40,382 people took on 26.2-mile challenge, which is 1,242 more than last year’s record high. For those fortunate to be watching and not running, the amount of technology on display was significant.
TCS provided a specific app for the Marathon, which enabled friends and family to access reams of data pertaining to those running. Significantly, the app was ranked #1 on the Apple app store, raking in downloads to more than 292,116 devices equating to more than one in 30 Londoners. At its peak across the day, the app was used by 73,000 people.
Shankar Narayanan, country head of the UK & Ireland at TCS, said that the Virgin Money London Marathon shows how digital technology is “transforming all aspects of society with social media, smartphone applications, fitness trackers and wearables giving a wealth of data.”
Hugh Brasher, an event director for the Virgin Money London Marathon, noted how the “incredible development of digital technology over the past decade has transformed every runner’s preparations for the London Marathon.
“We are working with TCS to develop tools that will engage more runners and fans – whether they are watching on the course or on television at home – with the unique experience of the world’s greatest marathon.”