During the first COVID lockdowns in 2020, health and fitness apps experienced unprecedented growth as gyms shut down and people stayed at home. People turned to these apps to maintain their exercise routines and mental well-being while confined at home.
Even in 2021, install growth remained elevated as lockdowns and restrictions persisted in several countries. However, in 2022 installs severely declined. According to a recent study from AdQuantum, the number of app installations on a smart device dropped to 292 million in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to 353 million during the same period in 2020.
Yet, the AdQuantum report suggests, key metrics like retention rates and active users have remained relatively stable for installed apps. In fact, session times and stickiness ratios, which are measures of user engagement, have even increased compared to pre-pandemic levels. This suggests that many of the users acquired during the growth boom have remained loyal to their fitness apps.
According to statistics provided by the digital marketing company, the percentage of users that have kept their apps installed within the first 30 days after installing increased to nearly 10% in the fourth quarter of 2022, up from a previous reading of 5% during the same period the previous year.
Meanwhile, as people are now spending more time outdoors, outdoor activity-tracking apps that help users track hiking, biking, and running progress have gained popularity. Apps like Strava and AllTrails have seen an increase in downloads and revenue. These types of apps are poised to continue benefitting from the trend of people spending more time outdoors and engaging in these types of activities.
These Are the Top Earners in the Health & Fitness Space
Data from AdQuantum indicates that the app that brought the most revenue in the health and fitness space in 2022 was MyFitnessPal, which helps its users keep track of their diet, nutrition, and exercise routines.
The second on the list of top-grossing apps is FitBit, an app designed specifically for the wearable device that carries that name and that is owned by one of the world’s largest tech companies – Alphabet (GOOG).
Third comes Calm, a meditation and sleep app, which is another sub-segment of the health & fitness space that is increasingly harnessing users’ attention and interest. One reason behind the popularity of Calm is the huge number of adults that suffer from a sleep disorder.
According to the Sleep Foundation, between 9% to 15% of all adults in the United States suffer from one of these conditions. That instantly creates a huge target market of around 50 to 70 million customers to apps like Calm.
Overall, the US accounted for over 60% of the total revenues generated by these apps. In 2022, all health and fitness applications combined produced total revenues of $860 million in this country alone.
What Does the Future Hold for Health & Fitness App After the Pandemic?
While install growth for fitness apps has been volatile, driven largely by the pandemic, some fundamental trends will likely propel continued growth over the long term. Growing health consciousness, a focus on mental well-being, technological innovations like artificial intelligence features, and an aging population all point to an ongoing need for mobile fitness solutions, the report highlights.
However, there are still digital barriers that prevent the broader adoption of fitness apps. Data privacy concerns, inconsistent user experience, lack of personalization, and other issues make it difficult for many people to fully integrate fitness apps into their routines.
Overcoming these barriers will be critical for fitness app developers to capitalize on the long-term opportunities in the market. Those who can gain users’ trust, understand their unique needs and preferences, and create seamless, valuable digital fitness experiences stand the greatest chance of success moving forward.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a digital transformation in health and fitness, and the apps that evolve the most gracefully will be best positioned to benefit as the market matures in the years ahead.