SAN FRANCISCO — The combination of mobile and social may be a powerful driver of positive health outcomes. MyFitnessPal on Thursday published its first user data study, uncovering a new trend in which people share health-related goals, activities and personal health content with their friends, colleagues and relatives, online and off. The report found that dieters who formed their own “Fitness Tribes” lost twice as much weight as their non-social dieting peers. The data analysis also showed the larger the Fitness Tribe, the more weight social dieters were likely to shed. Users who formed Fitness Tribes of 10 or more people lost up to four times as much as peers who did not build or partake in Fitness Tribe support groups.
“Mobile and social allow us to connect with each other in ways that help people form and sustain healthy habits. This generation of health-seekers are instinctively coming up with a variety of ways to give and get the support they need from their real-world relationships and digital social networks,” stated Mike Lee, CEO MyFitnessPal. “This data shows that their instincts are correct: social Fitness Tribes are actually driving better outcomes in weight loss and other healthy eating and exercise goals when compared against the outcomes of users who tackle their health journeys solo.”
Fitness Tribes not only helped members lose more weight, they also inspired members to exercise harder and more frequently. About half of MyFitnessPal users reported in a survey that they work out harder with friends than they would on their own. And about 55% say they are more likely to show up and actually exercise than they would on their own.
Additional findings of the inaugural study entitled “The Rise of the Fitness Tribe” includes:
- People are sharing their health goals and efforts both online and in real life. As many as 64% tried to lose weight together in the last 12 months, and 54% have shared status updates or check-ins on Facebook that made it clear they were at the gym or exercising. (By contrast, only 32% of respondents reported having posted a relationships status updates to their Facebook pages);
- The majority of MyFitnessPal users surveyed (56%) said they prefer to exercise in some social context, whether with a friend (33%), a relative (11%) or in a group exercise class (12%);
- Giving and getting inspiration appears to be a primary motivator for sharing health goals, as 50% of respondents said that if a friend or relative lost 20 pounds, they would be inspired to lose weight, too; and
- More than half of respondents (60%) said they’d make healthy food choices in a restaurant if the friends they were eating with did.
The company also announced a new feature for its smartphone app called Steps, available now for iPhone 5S. Steps can help raise awareness of how even small efforts like taking the stairs or walking to lunch can become healthy habits. This always-on steps tracking feature on the MyFitnessPal app will hopefully inspire users to become more engaged in their health and fitness activities overall.
As MyFitnessPal continues to expand the universe of data it collects with Steps, the company took a deep dive into its existing data with its Fitness Tribes study. The study consists of data from MyFitnessPal’s more than 50 million users plus a deep-dive survey of 2,220 users, and shows that people who track their health and fitness activities and involve their social and physical networks experience greater positive results and change in behavior, compared to those who do not.