People are increasingly using mobile health technology to improve their well-being, according to new Gallup research.
About half of smartphone users have downloaded at least one app that is meant to support healthy living, and 19 percent of all adults have downloaded and routinely used at least one such app. This means that one out of every five people are regularly using mobile technology to improve their chances of a life well-lived. Among full-time workers, this percentage climbs to 23 percent, according to the researchers.
Out of 11 popular types of apps on the market, usage varies. Across all adults, the most common use is for calorie counting: 18 percent report having downloaded an app for that purpose. Of these, one-third -—or 6 percent—routinely use the app. Health recipes and food/exercise diaries are the next most common type of apps used.
Gallup and the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based health and well-being improvement company Healthways define well-being based on five essential elements: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Across the U.S., 28 percent of American adults are not thriving in any of the five elements, while just 7 percent are thriving in all five. But those who download and routinely use health-related apps do better in well-being— after controlling for all demographics and for previously existing chronic conditions, these regular users are thriving in at least three of the elements 33 percent of the time, compared with 27 percent among all others.
The researchers note that these results don't prove that using apps will lead to better well-being outcomes; adults with high well-being might be more predisposed to download and use health-related apps. But finding these results after controlling for all demographics and chronic conditions suggests that catalyzing use of health-related apps is a good way to increase well-being.