If you can’t exercise in a gym or group workout and if running isn’t your thing, then it appears that walking has taken over as the go-to way of keeping in shape – and sane – amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, that’s good news for run specialty retailers, who increasingly are catering to a less ambitious, but equally motivated, consumer.


More than two-thirds of Americans who work out say walking has been their preferred exercise option amid COVID-19, while one in five said the pandemic has encouraged them to improve their eating habits, according to the findings from the 2020 UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey, which examines people’s opinions about health topics and preferences.


“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,” says Rebecca Madsen, UnitedHealthcare chief consumer officer.


Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Walking and running rank as top exercise options amid COVID-19. Most survey respondents who work out said walking (68 percent) has been their preferred method of exercise since COVID-19 emerged, followed by running (28 percent), body-weight exercises (23 percent), cycling (21 percent) and weight training at home (18 percent).
  • More than three-quarters of baby boomers preferred walking over other forms of exercise, as did 72 percent of Generation X.
  • As for eating habits, 30 percent of survey respondents said their diet is worse now than before COVID-19 impacted daily life, while 21 percent said their nutrition choices have improved.
  • For retailers it is interesting that In regard to common workplace norms, one-third (34 percent) of employed respondents said they would stop shaking hands at work no matter the circumstance; 35 percent would use an alternative physical greeting such as a fist or elbow bump; and 31 percent said they would continue handshakes despite potential risks of COVID-19 infection. Baby boomers were the most likely to give up handshakes, followed by members of Generation X (33%).
  • The majority of employees say Wellness Programs have improved their health and productivity. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of survey respondents who are employed and have access to wellness programs said the initiatives have made a positive impact on their health. Nearly half (48 percent) said the programs motivated them to pay more attention to their health; 38% said they helped lower stress; 36% said they increased physical activity; and 33% reported improved sleep.
  • In a non-related but interesting finding, 30 percent of respondents said they are now more likely to receive the annual flu shot this fall.


To see the entire survey: https://newsroom.uhc.com/wellness-checkup-2020.html