Tuesday, 24 January 2017 00:14

Senior citizen walkers drawn to fitness tracking devices

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Seniors and baby boomers have joined the younger, healthy set in using fitness tracking devices, according to new research which shows that the older brigade in Australia are emerging as a major market for fitness tracking devices as they take up health technology and devices as rapidly as young people.

The survey of 1000 Australians by data insights and programmatic media company Pureprofile reveals that walkers over the age of 60 make up the largest number of users of fitness devices, such as smartphone apps and wrist bands.

According to Pureprofile, walking is by far the most popular activity, with an average of 53% of survey respondents claiming it is their main fitness activity, followed by gym/workouts (17%), running (9%) and swimming (5%).

And, the survey also reveals that walking is popular among people over 60, with 67% stating it is their main activity, with 58% of people aged 50 to 59 claiming it was their main exercise, while 46% aged 19 to 49 years said it was their main exercise.

“Australian retailers and tracking device marketers are all missing a major segment of the market by assuming it is only young people who want to use these technologies”, said Pureprofile's Kym Penhall.

“If you look at ads for these devices, they mostly focus on young fit people undertaking strenuous activities. They don’t ever acknowledge the concept of walking as an exercise to maintain a moderate level of personal fitness.”

More than 90% of respondents were aware of devices enabling them to monitor their fitness activity, with close to half using their smartphones, a wrist device, or both, to monitor their movements.

The survey data shows 57% of walkers see merit in a smartphone fitness device and 56% see merit in using a wrist device.

And more than 60% of walkers do not currently use a smartphone or wrist device to track their exercise and, of these, more than a third would consider using one.

“We believe there is a major market opportunity, especially in the wrist device area, for brands to market specifically to walkers and the older demographic,” Penhall said.

Undertaking physical activity to improve or maintain personal fitness was common among the survey sample, with one in five people undertaking some form of activity every day and almost four out of five doing so at least weekly.

The research showed walking was by far the most popular activity among respondents, particularly amongst older respondents with two-thirds of those aged 60 plus claiming it is their main activity and 80% of all respondents choosing walking as either their main fitness activity or at least occasionally.

Fitbit was the most popular brand of wrist device used, followed by Garmin and the Apple Watch.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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