Fitness Apps See Major Boost During Covid: Are You Maximizing UA?

fitness app boost covid

Fitness apps have been a fast-growing segment even before the pandemic. Covid’s lockdowns kept many out of the gym. So, they turned to app stores to provide solutions to continue their health and fitness routines. What has the impact of Covid been on the category? And how can you get in front of health and fitness enthusiasts, so they choose and stay on your app? 

The Covid Boost for Mobile Fitness Apps

In the first six months of 2020, downloads of health and fitness apps grew 46% globally. This analysis comes from data representing 1.5 million app users. The data includes both the Apple App Store and Google Play. The study represents five areas:

  • Americas: 28.28% increase in downloads and 9.41% DAU (daily active users) increase.
  • Europe: 25.47% increase in downloads and 8.32% DAU increase.
  • Middle East and North Africa: 46.31% increase in downloads and 19.89% DAU increase.
  • India: 111.8% increase in downloads and 57.07% DAU increase.
  • Southeast Asia and Oceania: 45.40% increase in downloads and 24.25% DAU increase.


Image: Moengage

Let’s unpack what this means.

India Has Highest Increases, But Other Regions Show Steady Increase

India had the strongest numbers of downloads and DAU. These percentage growths equate to 58 million new active users. For perspective, this Indian segment is greater than the entire population of Spain. This boost in India corresponds with its strict lockdown policies relating to Covid. This growth also aligns with expert projections of market growth, which they say APAC will contribute 39%

What’s Happening in the U.S.?

While the numbers in the Americas are less impressive, those populations already had a high number of mobile health and fitness apps users, including Fitness Coach, MyFitnessPal, and SHRED. However, the DAU increase represents greater adoption and consistent use. Consumer behavior is changing dramatically because of the pandemic. 

fitness app stats

A survey from Freeletics reported that 74% of Americans used at least one fitness app during quarantine, with 41% doing so for the first time. Of those, 56% were happy enough with the experience, they plan to cancel gym memberships. This isn’t all bad news for gyms, as many have their own apps. If that fits your scenario, reframe this to see it as a new recurring revenue stream for virtual classes. 

Fitness App Download Trends

Being physically active can be a de-stressor, and 2020 has been a little stressful, to put it lightly. Exercise is what many channel this stress into, so they can feel less anxious and more comfortable.

Going Zen

An emerging trend is that more Americans are using meditation and yoga apps to be more Zen. Some of the most popular are Calm, Daily Yoga, and Yoga Studio. Since the pandemic’s onset, 40% of men tried meditation for the first time, while only 29% of women did, according to survey respondents. That’s a big jump for men, who traditionally aren’t the biggest adopters of this type of exercise. Women had a head start on this segment but still had significant increases. 

This data aligns with the apps making the most money. Calm, a mindfulness and meditation app, earned $8.5M in April and $7.7M in May. The company’s latest numbers were $6M for October. (Earnings data via Sensor Tower). The app has also been very savvy with its digital advertising. 

The Calm app was a sponsor for CNN’s “Key Release Alerts” and saw huge spikes in Twitter mentions. It was a smart move and fit with their brand voice to bring “calm” into a stressful landscape. The brand played its role well in a contentious situation and likely brought in more new users. 

Variety of Apps Offer More Inclusivity

Fitness apps aren’t just for hardcore athletes, CrossFit loyalists, or bodybuilders. Fitness is personal, which means variety in options can drive demand. There are some significantly different segments in health and fitness apps:

  • Men vs. women
  • Beginners vs. experts
  • Types of exercise
  • Age
  • Culture and location 

With a variety, there’s an opportunity for niche fitness apps to target specific types of users. It’s a highly competitive category, but you could see lifts by differentiating whom you target in user acquisition (UA). 

Wearables Continue to Soar

The fitness wearable evolution is still moving forward. Projections for wearables indicate they will double between 2019 and 2022. Wearables become a data hub for users that tracks their physical activity, sleep, and vitals. 

Expect more wearables to hit the market and become even more powerful as a data engine. Health and fitness mobile app marketers need to consider this as they iterate their app and add features.  

UA Strategies for Fitness App Mobile Marketers

Based on the data and trends, it’s time to build a strategy to capitalize on the uptick in demand. In addition to acquiring users, you also need to retain them. 

Reward Campaigns

  • Drive traffic to your app with CPI (cost per install) campaigns.
  • Leverage CPE (cost per engagement) campaigns to push deep-funnel engagement like paid subscriptions and purchases. 
  • Use long-tail keywords for a burst campaign if you’re in a niche segment (i.e., fitness apps for seniors, yoga for beginners, etc.). Bursts drive high volume, which can boost app rank visibility, leading to additional organic lift.

AdAction uses owned and operated inventory as well as vetted partners on our Reward Platform. We connect advertisers with engaged audiences and can deploy rewarded ads for iOS and Android. 

Performance-Based Social Media Influencer Marketing

Collaborate with influencers to promote your app. With performance-based social media influencer marketing, advertisers only pay when posts lead to actual installs. It’s a low-risk, high-reward opportunity to expand your reach. We connect our clients with high-quality influencers that fit your brand’s vibe. 

Extra Tips

Now is also a good time to revisit your ASO (App Store Optimization) tactics. A description refresh that represents the current environment could boost appeal. Make sure your graphics are truly illustrative of the experience. Consider A/B testing to see what resonates with your audience. Encouraging reviews from users is another strategy that can lead to increased UA. 

The New Era of Fitness: Apps Are Leading the Way

How people workout and exercise will never be the same again. Post-Covid, digital channels will continue to rise in appeal. Promoting your app in the right way to the right type of users won’t end when the pandemic does. Consider these tips long-term strategies. If you’re ready to dial up the visibility of your app, connect with our experts today


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