Survey Results

Aetna Foundation conducted a nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 Americans ages 18 and older from January 8-18, 2016. The survey results offer a current snapshot of Americans' perceptions about a variety of healthy living topics, including steps needed to have a healthy day, activities that contribute to an overall feeling of wellness and how their community can impact their health.

Overall, survey respondents report having on average five healthy days a week, and consider the health of their city or county a contributing factor in their personal health – so much so that a majority of respondents are willing to do something in order to have a healthier environment.

smiling people gardening and man getting a medical checkup

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The majority of Americans believe they are in good health and report having five healthy days per week on average.
  • Respondents consider environmental influences as having an equally important impact on their health as local community factors.  
  • Despite some disappointment Americans have with their city’s current health, the survey showed they still have hope for a healthier tomorrow and are willing to do their part to make it a reality.
  • While top health habit changes revolve around treating the body well, one's mental state is also seen as important when it comes to overall health and well-being.

MORE ON HOW AMERICANS FEEL ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING

Perception vs. Reality: Americans Count Their Healthy Days

Seventy-seven percent report being either somewhat healthy or extremely healthy.

Center for Disease Control statistics show this runs contradictory to the trend in the overall health of Americans: half of all adults — 117 million — had one or more chronic health conditions, and one in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions as of 2012.

A Community's Role: Beyond the Doctor's Office

Respondents consider environmental influences as having an equally important impact on their health as local community factors. 

  • Nearly one in two Americans grade their current city or county a C or lower for how healthy an environment it is.
  • Local aspects like their area’s cost of living (40 percent), access to health services (37 percent), access to nutritious foods (35 percent) and amount of crime and violence (35 percent) have a large effect on Americans’ health.
  • When asked what the most important thing for the health of their city or county is, almost the same number of respondents said access to health services (17 percent) is most important as those who said availability to job opportunities (16 percent).
  • While a majority of Americans (80 percent) say their city or county food options are healthy, two in five (40 percent) think their area is not as healthy as other cities in the country.
Hope for the Future of Community Health

Despite some disappointment Americans have with their city’s current health, the survey showed they still have hope for a healthier tomorrow and are willing to do their part to make it a reality.

  • Nearly one-third (32 percent) of Americans believe their area will become a healthier place to live in the next five years.
  • Over nine in ten (94 percent) Americans are willing to do something in order to have a healthier environment, including grow their own fruits and vegetables (53 percent) or walk, bike or take public transit more often to reduce pollution and congestion (49 percent).
  • About one in five would organize community exercise events such as races, walks or bike rides (21 percent) or pay higher taxes that would go toward creating outdoor recreational infrastructure (17 percent) if it meant having a healthier environment.
  • Many respondents think it’s important for their city or county government to do their part to make their area as healthy a place to live as possible.
Mindfulness Matters

While top health habit changes revolve around treating the body well, one’s mental state is also seen as important when it comes to overall health and well-being.

  • A majority of Americans say having a healthy day would require activities that are good for their body such as eating nutritious foods (72 percent) and exercising (60 percent).
  • Many also believe it’s crucial to tend to their mental state by avoiding stress (69 percent) and being in a good mood (59 percent) to have a healthy day.
  • The same amount of Americans agree that their overall health and wellness is impacted by the food they consume (84 percent) as those who say it’s affected by their mood (84 percent) and stress level (84 percent).
  • Over three in five say their mood is impacted by their stress level (66 percent) and the amount of sleep they get (62 percent), followed by the amount of time they spend with loved ones or friends (38 percent), doing leisurely or social activities (30 percent) or in front of a screen (18 percent).
  • In order to keep stress levels down, three in five (62 percent) of Americans participate in an activity at least once a week to improve their mindfulness.

HC50 Learning Network

HealthyCommunity50 finalists can log into the Learning Network to join discussions, connect with fellow finalists, get inspiration and cheer each other on!