87% of smartwatch owners adopt new healthy habits – study finds

But there’s poor understanding of more complex health indicators
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The use of smartwatches can have a transformative effect on the lifestyle and health of users – a new study has revealed.

The research, commissioned by Huawei and carried out by IPSOS, polled 8,000 European adults. 

It found that 87% of smartwatch users introduced at least one new healthy lifestyle behavior as a result of wearing their device.

Of that number, 47% of people quizzed exercise more often, and 41% worked out for longer compared to their pre-smartwatch days.

Away from exercise, 39% took more care of their sleep and 28% changed their diet based on data from their smartwatch.

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It's a huge indicator that smartwatches and wearables can be powerful tools for behavior change.

When asked which factors motivated them to purchase their smartwatch, 66% claimed the main reason they bought a device was to track either health or sports activity. This indicates that a strong subset of users discovered or were inspired to improve health by owning their device.

Trust in data is also rated highly, which is important because without believing in those metrics, behavior change wouldn’t be possible. The survey found that 81% of smartwatch users trust the health data measured by their device.

Understanding health

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In terms of health, the Huawei/IPSOS survey found that 49% of smartwatch users measure their physical activity (steps) daily. In addition, checking heart rate (46%) and tracking sleep quality/quantity (36%) were also among the top use cases. 

In terms of the features users deem crucial on their smartwatches, heart rate comes top with 46% of respondents unwilling to sacrifice the metric. Step tracking (41%) was also highly desired, but sleep (30%) and calories (26%) were surprisingly low.

The study also highlighted a worrying lack of understanding of more advanced health features – outside of the basic steps, sleep, calories, and heart rate metrics,

Only 21% of UK respondents responded that they understood the correct level of stress when reported by their smartwatch. Stress tracking has been a trend in wearables over the past year, and it’s interesting to see the lack of understanding of the metric – and something that we've pointed out on Wareable many times.

This was a similar level of understanding to ECG (25%), respiratory rate (24%), body fat percentages (23%), and body muscle mass (20%).

In fact, no health metric scored over 50% level of user understanding. The highest was 47% of respondents understanding the correct body temperature level. 

So there is work for wearables brands to do to educate users about the more complex elements of wearables and ensure that users aren’t left behind.

TAGGED Smartwatches

How we test

James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and T3.com and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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