By Dr. Donna O’Shea
With the calendar recently flipping to 2022, 55% Americans are making New Year’s resolutions to improve their health, according to a new UnitedHealthcare survey. Among those, 26% hope to lose weight, 24% are planning to exercise more and 21% intend to eat a healthier diet. To help achieve those goals, Dr. Donna O’Shea, chief medical officer of population health for UnitedHealthcare, offers the following tips:
- Get a Digital Fitness App. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted some people to avoid public gyms due to potential exposure risks to the coronavirus, contributing to a surge in the popularity of at-home fitness routines. In fact, 30% of Americans surveyed said they had used a digital fitness app as part of their fitness regimen since COVID-19 emerged. Whether your fitness resolution is focused on improving strength, enhancing endurance or finding new levels of flexibility, some health plans now include subsidized subscriptions to digital fitness apps with thousands of live and on-demand workouts, in some cases giving access at no additional cost.
- Find a Fitness Tracker. Wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular and sophisticated, enabling people to track their daily steps, monitor their heart rate and analyze sleep patterns (among other measures). With that in mind, some employers and health plans are including fitness trackers as part of wellness programs, in some cases enabling people to earn over $1,000 per year in incentives by meeting certain daily activity goals, such as walking, running, swimming or strength training. Some smartwatches even sync with digital fitness apps, offering personalized feedback to help track individual workouts and progress over time.
- Take a Pass on Tobacco. While smoking rates have declined over the last few decades, 14% of Americans are still consistent smokers, with cigarette use ranking as the leading cause of preventable death nationwide. Kicking the habit can help support your health – both in the short and long term – while avoiding an estimated $1 million or more in lifetime costs associated with cigarette use. For support, many health plans offer smoking cessation programs, which may offer – at no additional cost – nicotine gum or patches, online tools and one-on-one coaching.