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Study: Many Americans Say They Are More Likely to Participate in a Fitness Routine If Given Opportunity to Socialize, Earn Financial Incentives

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  • Third-annual UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey provides
    insights into people’s knowledge and opinions about various health
    topics, including preferences about employer-sponsored well-being
    programs
  • People trying to improve their health prioritize a healthy diet,
    access to routine medical care, and stopping smoking or reducing
    drinking
  • More than half of survey respondents said they expect to remain
    healthy enough to accomplish everyday activities until 80 or older,
    including 11 percent saying those tasks will “never” be an issue
  • Among employees with access to a well-being program, 57 percent
    said it has helped improve their health; of these, 27 percent said the
    program helped detect a disease or medical condition

MINNETONKA, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than two-thirds of Americans say an incentive of as little as $2
per day would motivate them to devote at least an hour each day toward
improving their health, while nearly 60 percent of people say they would
be more likely to participate in a fitness routine if the program
offered an opportunity to socialize or make friends, according to a new
nationwide survey.

These are some of the findings from the 2019 UnitedHealthcare Wellness
Checkup Survey
, which examines people’s opinions about health topics
and preferences, offering insights to help improve employer-sponsored
well-being or disease-management programs. The survey’s key findings
include:

  • Opportunities to socialize, earn financial incentives appeal to
    many.
    More than half (57 percent) of survey respondents said they
    would be more likely to consistently participate in a fitness routine
    if the regimen provided a social component, either in-person or
    virtually. Among employees with access to a well-being program, 67
    percent said it was important that their significant other or family
    members have the opportunity to participate, too. Across all
    respondents, more than two-thirds (68 percent) said an incentive of as
    little as $2 per day would motivate them to devote at least an hour
    each day toward improving their health.
  • Many people are optimistic about remaining healthy as they age. More
    than half (53 percent) of survey respondents anticipate being able to
    accomplish everyday activities until 80 or older, including 11 percent
    saying those tasks will “never” be an issue. Gen Xers – defined as
    people between 39 and 54 years old – were the most optimistic, with
    nearly three-quarters (74 percent) expecting to maintain their health
    beyond 80, including 15 percent saying health issues will never
    prevent them from accomplishing everyday tasks. However, one
    study
    concluded that 42 percent of Americans 80 or older have
    functional limitations, such as the inability to walk a flight of
    stairs.
  • Healthy diet, access to medical care and stopping smoking top
    priorities.
    Survey respondents considered a healthy diet, such as
    eating fruits and vegetables, as the top priority when trying to
    improve their health, with a mean score of 4.5 (5 being “extremely
    important”). That was followed by access to routine medical care, such
    as an annual physical (4.4); stopping smoking and/or reducing drinking
    (4.4); getting sufficient sleep (4.3); engaging in strength or
    cardiovascular training (4.3); increasing social activity (3.7); and
    improving mindfulness (3.6).
  • Most people underestimate the connection between lifestyle choices
    and chronic conditions.
    About one-fifth (22 percent) of survey
    respondents correctly recognized that 80
    percent or more of the incidence of premature chronic conditions
    ,
    such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, are generally caused by
    modifiable lifestyle choices, such as risk factors like smoking or
    obesity, as opposed to being caused by genetic factors. More than
    one-third (38 percent) thought between 50 percent and 79 percent of
    premature chronic conditions were caused by lifestyle choices, while
    32 percent said genetics were to blame for more than half of these
    diseases.

“This year employers are expected to invest an average of more than $3.6
million1 on their respective well-being programs, and over 60
percent of employees2 are interested in engaging in these
initiatives. The UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey
provides insights that we hope can be helpful to enhance the design and
implementation of well-being programs, which may help improve employees’
health, reduce absenteeism and curb care costs,” said Rebecca Madsen,
UnitedHealthcare chief consumer officer.

Many U.S. companies are investing in wellness programs, with more than
two-thirds (67 percent) of companies planning to expand these
initiatives during the next few years, according to a recent
study
by the National Business Group on Health. A separate
study
published in The American Journal of Cardiology concluded that
one employer’s well-being initiative generated a six-fold return on
investment and reduced health risks for people enrolled in the program.

Many Employees Say Well-being Programs Have Improved Their Health,
Productivity

More than half (57 percent) of people with
access to wellness programs said the initiatives have made a positive
impact on their health. Of these, 82 percent said they were motivated to
pay more attention to their health; 63 percent said they increased
physical activity; 59 percent improved their diet; and 30 percent
reported improved sleep. More than one-quarter (27 percent) said the
program helped detect a disease or medical condition, while 8 percent
said they stopped smoking or using nicotine.

In regard to job performance among those who said the well-being program
made a positive impact on their health, 50 percent said the initiative
helped reduce stress; 49 percent reported improved productivity; and 35
percent said they took fewer sick days. About one-quarter (26 percent)
reported no impact on job performance.

Among employees without access to wellness programs, 70 percent of
respondents said they would be interested in such initiatives if
offered, including 43 percent who are “very interested.” More than
three-quarters (77 percent) of Gen Xers said they wanted access to a
well-being program, more so than any other age group.

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About the Survey
The UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup
Survey
was conducted April 11-15, 2019, using the Engine Telephone
CARAVAN® survey among a landline and mobile phone probability sample of
1,000 adults ages 18 and older living in the continental United States.
The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent
confidence level. For complete survey results, click
here
.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare
is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the
health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care
experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining
trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States,
UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for
individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and
contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care
professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide.
The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people
through owned and operated health care facilities in South America.
UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:
UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit
UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com
or follow @UHC on Twitter.

1 National Business Group on Health, 2019
https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/news/nbgh-news/press-releases/press-release-details/?ID=355

2 Rand Corporation, Incentives for Workplace Wellness
Programs, 2015
https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_briefs/RB9800/RR9842/RAND_RB9842.pdf

Click
here to subscribe to Mobile Alerts for UnitedHealth Group.

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Contacts

Will Shanley
UnitedHealthcare
(714) 204-8005
[email protected]


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