As the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, many people had a fresh start on their minds — often centered around improving their health and wealth.
According to a recent survey, 55% of Americans planned to start a health-related resolution, such as losing weight, eating better or exercising more. 53% vowed to improve their financial well-being.1
If you’re among the goal setters, you may find resources in your new health plan helpful in working toward your New Year’s resolutions.
Dr. Donna O’Shea, chief medical officer of population health at UnitedHealthcare, offers five ways you may be able to use your 2022 benefits to achieve better health and financial success:
1. Download a digital fitness app
Some health plans now include subscriptions to digital fitness apps, which may help with resolutions focused on improving strength, enhancing endurance or increasing flexibility.
For example, some UnitedHealthcare plans now include a year-long membership to the Peloton App at no additional cost. This app includes live and on-demand fitness classes, including strength, outdoor running, indoor cycling, yoga and meditation.
2. Activate a fitness tracker
Wearable devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated, enabling the tracking of everything from daily steps to heart rates and sleep patterns. Some health plans include these fitness trackers as part of wellness programs that enable you to earn incentives for healthy behaviors.
In some cases, you can earn more than $1,000 per year by meeting certain daily activity goals, such as walking, running, swimming or strength training. Some smartwatches, such as Apple Watch, even sync with a digital fitness app for tracking individual workouts and progress over time.
3. Enroll in a weight-loss program
If shedding extra pounds is your focus, check for online weight-loss programs that may be available as part of your health plan. These programs are designed to help you build healthy habits across key areas, such as nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress — which may all support your weight loss targets.
It’s important to note that maintaining a healthy body weight may help improve your overall health. Research shows that when an overweight person loses just 5% of their initial weight, it can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than 50%. This is especially noteworthy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, since diabetes is a risk factor for an increased chance of complications if a person becomes infected with the virus.
4. Kick the tobacco habit
While rates have declined, 14% of Americans are still consistent smokers, with cigarette use ranking as the leading cause of preventable death nationwide. Quitting can help support your short- and long-term health and save you money on a habit that has estimated lifetime costs of $1 million or more.
Many health plans include no-cost smoking cessation programs, which may include online tools, one-on-one coaching, nicotine gum or patches.
5. Support your smile
Research shows oral health issues can have a major impact on your overall health, making it vital that you care for your teeth. Beyond consistent brushing and flossing, regular dental cleanings are also important for removing plaque that tends to build up on teeth over time.
Many dental plans include up to two annual cleanings with no cost sharing. Some plans also offer discounts on electric toothbrushes, which may clean teeth and gums better than a manual toothbrush.
People who make specific resolutions may be more likely to reach their goals than those who don’t set explicit pledges. By taking advantage of your health plan’s resources, it may be possible to improve both your physical and financial health in 2022.
1 UnitedHealthcare survey of 1,008 adults age 18 or older conducted Dec. 15 to 17, 2021