How Americans’ health habits changed during COVID-19

Find yourself walking more or struggling with your diet in recent months? The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, including some of our daily habits that may have an impact on our health. Our workout routines and diets are among those changes, according to fourth-annual UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey


These findings are used to help improve well-being and disease-management programs offered by employers, while helping consumers better monitor fitness trends. The survey’s key findings include:

  1. More people plan to get the flu shot
    While researchers work to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, 30% of respondents said they are now more likely to receive the annual flu shot this fall. While the flu shot won’t protect you against COVID-19, it’s still an important step to help avoid contracting certain strains of the flu and experiencing the potential complications associated with it, such as the need for in-person medical visits. Make sure your employees understand their health insurance coverage for an annual flu shot.  
  2. Walking and running rank as top exercise options amid the pandemic
    Most survey respondents (68%) who workout said walking has been their preferred method of exercise during COVID-19, followed by running (28%), body-weight exercises (23%), cycling (21%) and weight training at home (18%). Interestingly, baby boomers and Generation X both ranked walking as their main preference.

    Consider looking for programs that incentivize and reward some of these activities, like UnitedHealthcare Motion®. This program gives eligible plan participants access to wearable devices that may help them earn financial incentives by meeting certain daily walking goals. 
  3. The change of routine negatively impacted some people’s diets
    In terms of eating habits, 30% of survey respondents said their diet is worse now than before COVID-19. This may have resulted from being at home with more snacking temptations throughout the day. However, some people (21%) have used the pandemic to focus on their health and report having improved their nutrition choices.

    For those who need help getting back on track, consider wellness programs like Real Appeal. The program’s holistic approach provides a personalized plan with actionable steps designed to help improve your overall lifestyle, which may lead to weight loss.

“Now is an opportune time for Americans to make an investment in their health, with employers in a crucial role to foster healthy habits among employees in the workplace and while working at home,” said Rebecca Madsen, UnitedHealthcare chief consumer officer. “The UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey highlights the importance of implementing robust well-being programs that may foster whole-person health, reduce absenteeism and curb care costs.”