Stepping into action--eighteen percent of exercisers use wearable fitness trackers

CHICAGO, Jan. 8, 2015-- A new year usually brings new resolutions, and getting in shape is often on the list. In general, people exercise because they have to—not because they want to. Mintel research finds consumers are more likely to exercise to improve their health or prevent medical issues, and less likely to cite fun or enjoyment as a reason.

But maybe that could change as consumers' interest in wearable technology continues to grow. Indeed, new Mintel research finds that nearly two in 10 (18%) of Americans who exercise use a wearable fitness tracker like a Fitbit and as many as 31% would be interested in trying one.

Men are even more likely to use wearable fitness trackers—with 38% of 18-34-year-olds and 24% of 35-54-year-old exercisers reporting usage. Meanwhile, nearly a third of all Americans who exercise (28%) would be interested in trying out fitness clothing with those features.

According to Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel:

"Wearable fitness trackers are a game-changer in the exercise industry. They allow people to track their movement, set goals, and measure progress over time. This can be hugely motivating for those who struggle with sticking to an exercise program. Because of this, sales and usage of wearable fitness trackers have increased in recent years. While usage is still lower than other exercise tools, high interest levels suggest that this is an area that will continue to grow in the coming years, especially with new innovations such as Simband and the Apple Watch. That said, penetration is still low, and one of the main barriers to penetration of wearable fitness devices is the expense. However, as these products become more prominent, cost will likely go down and adoption will go up."

What's an exercise regimen if it isn't coupled with healthier eating? When it comes to eating better, more than half of Americans (58%) are dieting, with 37% saying they are attempting a diet to lose weight. Twenty-one percent are dieting simply to maintain their current weight. These numbers are notably below the almost 70% of Americans who are overweight or obese.

"Most dieters have used four or more types of diets, suggesting that people feel the need to create a comprehensive approach to dieting. Use of multiple approaches to dieting could be driven by confusion surrounding the best approach, trouble sticking with a particular method, or simply an interest in a more comprehensive approach to weight loss," concludes Emily. "There could be an opportunity for a multi-program diet 'starter kit,' which allows dieters to experiment with different programs and see what works for them."

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