Wellness motivation is on the rise—so is inflation – AdAge.com

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With pandemic urgency fading and inflation on the rise, what is the state of well-being today? 
In February 2020, Healthline Media took the pulse of the nation’s health and wellness.¹ As the pandemic brought well-being into focus, we ran a second survey in December 2020 and analyzed the changes of that tumultuous period in our report, “In Health We Trust.”²
Our follow-up survey from September 2022 brings good news: The pandemic-era enthusiasm for wellness is still growing, and most people prefer expert health advice.³ Yet cost is an increasing barrier for many, exacerbating the economic divide in health and wellness. 

Healthy pandemic habits have stuck. Today, 43% of U.S. adults say their lifestyle is extremely or very healthy, a 16% increase from pre-pandemic. At the same time, 45% more people are using their free time to improve their health and wellness. 
What are people doing more of since the pandemic? The highest-ranked activity remains cooking more at home (53%), followed by spending quality time with family (48%), making more time for oneself (42%), eating healthier (40%) and exercising more (40%). However, the largest increases include seeing a mental health professional (167% increase), exercising more (150% increase) and taking greater control of one’s own health (140% increase). 

People want to improve their wellness—only a third of those who experience challenges living a healthy lifestyle say they lack the motivation to do so. But with inflation rising, cost is the second-highest barrier to healthy living, cited by 39% of respondents. While cost concern decreased from pre-pandemic to mid-pandemic, it has since increased by 22%, the most of any barrier in our survey.
Cost concerns can create gaps in care. Affordability is the leading barrier for Black respondents (66%), while Boomers are the most cost-concerned generation (45%). Meanwhile, 46% of U.S. adults—21% more than mid-pandemic—say they think about whether the doctor is worth the cost before they decide to go.
Income and well-being are closely linked. Some 60% of respondents making $100,000 or more feel their lifestyle is extremely or very healthy, while only a quarter of those making $45,000 or less agreed. Of the higher-income group, 57% used their free time to improve their health and wellness, compared with just a third of the lower-income group.

Even before the pandemic, most people used multiple sources to find health information. The difference is that now, more people look for expertise behind that information. Nearly three-quarters look to see if health information is from an expert or organization they trust, a 24% increase from pre-pandemic. When articles mention health research over half of people look up the study, a 35% increase from pre-pandemic. 
People are equally likely (27%) to search online or contact a doctor when they have a health or wellness question. Our survey found that Black respondents are most likely to contact a healthcare provider, despite the typical narrative that people of color may have lower levels of trust in doctors.
For better or worse, social media apps and sites remain a useful source of information for many people, though this varies by generation. For physical health advice, YouTube (46%) was the most popular source, capturing over half of every generation except Boomers, mirroring an overall media trend toward video. Many also looked at Facebook (38%) and Instagram (32%), which ranked highly for all except Boomers, while TikTok (26%) was popular with half of Gen Z.

Today, well-being is a priority and even a source of empowerment. Compared with before the pandemic, 24% more people (from 51% to 61%) are willing to make sacrifices to live a longer life, and 33% more (from 52% to 65%) agree that learning about health and wellness makes them feel in control of their well-being.
Many people and especially younger generations feel that the pandemic’s challenges are fading. In light of recent COVID-19-related news, 43% of all respondents (and half of those younger than 45) said they were more optimistic, a 125% increase compared with 10 months ago.⁴
Today, marketers can make the most of this widespread motivation. But we should also recognize the importance of staying close to consumers, and understanding their evolving needs, challenges, and mindsets, as well as differences across factors like age and ethnicity. As our survey demonstrates, health and wellness are ever-changing. Marketers can’t “set it and forget it” — they need to find the data, talk to users, and ensure they are tracking changes along with them.

¹ / ² : Healthline Media Landscape Segmentation study. Survey in two waves with 1,533 U.S. consumers in wave 1 and 1,577 in wave 2. Data weighted to be representative of U.S. adults. February and December 2020.
³ : Healthline Media Health and Wellness study. Survey of 1,470 U.S. consumers. Data weighted to be representative of U.S. adults. September 2022.
: Healthline Media Suzy study. Survey of 1,044 U.S. adults. Sample weighted to be representative of the U.S. population. December 2021.
Healthline Media is the #1 digital health and wellness property, reaching more people on their road to well-being than any other property.
In this article:
Alyssa is the director of corporate marketing at Healthline Media, the largest health information property. She brings over 12 years of leadership to her work in brand and strategic marketing to help B2B audiences meet the moment and follow shifting trends. As Director, she translates the company’s brand stories and insights into thought leadership, content, and communications that inform and inspire. Her passions extend outside of work where she brings a challenge-seeking mindset to hiking, travel, and wellness.


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