Fitbit is sharing its wealth of health data with the scientific community to boost the fight against Covid-19 coronavirus.

James Park, CEO & co-founder of Fitbit, has written to users to tell them that the health data gathered from Fitbit users has been shown to improve the prediction of influenza-like illness.

“Our mission has always been to help people around the world get healthier… We’re providing research and academic institutions with secure and privacy-aware access to our dataset.

“We’ve seen how data has potential to help the healthcare community respond faster to outbreaks - most recently, The Scripps Research Translational Institute published a study that showed data from Fitbit wearables significantly improved the prediction of influenza-like illness.”

A US study of 47,000 Fitbit users, published in The Lancet Digital Health journal and reported by Reuters, found that heart rate and sleep data from wearable fitness trackers can predict and alert public health officials to real-time outbreaks of flu more accurately than current surveillance methods.

Users’ resting heart rate and sleep duration were monitored and flagged as abnormal if the average weekly heart rate was significantly above their overall average and their weekly average sleep was not below their overall average.

“Responding more quickly to influenza outbreaks can prevent further spread and infection, and we were curious to see if sensor data could improve real-time surveillance,” said Jennifer Radin from the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

Read Coronavirus: how to clean your home.

With so many people now isolated in their homes, Fitbit motivation and measurement, plus guided workouts promise to keep people fit while away from the gym or other sports.

Fitbit Premium reverse crunches

Premium features for free

The maker of activity trackers and health smartwatches is also offering 40 new pieces of Premium content free in the Fitbit app.

Fitbit Premium creates customised programmes to motivate and guide users to “move more, eat well and sleep better”. It includes personalised health insights, health guidance, advanced sleep tools, customised programs, and 150+ workouts. It works with smartwatches such as the Fitbit Versa 2 and Fitbit Ionic.

Fitbit is offering a free 90-day trial of the normally £7.99/month (US$9.99) service to people who are new to Premium.

Users can stream video workouts on your phone or computer.

For enterprise customers, Fitbit is making certain enterprise features, such as corporate challenges, available at no cost, so employees take care of themselves while isolated at home.

Find out which is the best Fitbit for you in Tech Advisor’s reviews, and discover the best Fitbit deals.