Australia 'most health-concerned country in the world'

Australia has topped a long list of countries most concerned about health.

But the good news is we’re turning to fitness apps and meditation to salve our fears.

A new study shows we’re increasingly turning to technology to tackle mental health, sleep and weight loss issues.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID lockdown has been a major driver of mobile health app usage as Australians reported spikes in sleep disturbance and weight gain. But with clubs, gyms and in-person yoga classes closed, the extra hours at home meant more people took up running and meditation in a bid to balance the emotional and physical scales. 

More than three quarters of mobile users worldwide increased their usage of health apps during the pandemic in 2020, and app downloads rose by 22 per cent.

The new Health App Index from British company Uswitch.com is based on a survey of the world’s most searched for health apps and the best value for money apps. It also sought information on how much personal data each of the most popular apps stored.

Taking 20 of the world’s happiest countries, Uswitch went in search of the biggest users of health apps by country and Australia finished on top.

Australians searched for apps related to weight and mental health more than 100,000 times in the past five years, with most of those searches in the past 12 months. This gave us the dubious title of ‘most health concerned country in the world’.

Mindfulness app Headspace was our most popular health aid, while the top app for Canadians, the second most health-conscious country, was Nike Run Club.

The UK was third on the list, also preferring mental health focused apps such as Calm and Headspace, at least one of which topped the list in four other countries including the US, Denmark and Ireland. Those mindfulness apps had 6500 per cent increase in downloads over the past nine months as poor mental health rates increased worldwide.

“At a time of immense stress for many of us, health apps have played an important part in helping us track our wellbeing,” said Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com.

Overall, Flo: My Health And Period Tracker topped the list as the most popular health app with 30 million users worldwide, while Calm, a meditation and sleeping app that was somewhat niche pre-pandemic, was No. 2. At No. 3 was MyFitnessPal, which tracks diet and exercise. It also gathers more personal information than any other app on the top-10 list.

For those who’d rather not to share their BMI, calorie intake and even sexual activity, Wakeout Fitness was found to collect the least information on its users.

The index named Nike Run Club the best-value app – only requiring you to sign up for a free Nike membership – while Fitness Coach was deemed the worst value costing up to $35 a month.

To get the best out of these apps, Uswitch has a simple tip. 

“Start with a realistic and specific goal such as ‘meditate for 10 minutes a day’ rather than ‘meditate more’, and you will be more likely to stick to and achieve your health aspirations,” Ms Hiley says.

Are you a regular user of health apps? Which do you use?

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Related articles:
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/technology/are-mental-health-apps-the-new-fix
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/health/should-health-apps-be-regulated
https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/technology/gadgets/apps-to-kickstart-the-brain

Written by Rebecca Tolan

Rebecca has worked in journalism for 20 years, been a DIY-er for more, and is in the middle of her very own grand design. Retirement seems a long way off! In her spare time she rows surfboats, plays volleyball with her kids and dreams of future holidays.

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