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Sep 1, 2021
International Study Finds COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders Encouraged Fitness, Healthy Eating and Human Connection

The pandemic has certainly changed life as we know it—and for some people, it’s helped them form healthier habits.

So says the most recent sampling of Cigna's 2021 360 Well-Being study, “On the Road to Recovery,” which is based on a survey of 18,000 people in 21 markets across five continents. The findings suggest that social distancing orders have actually had some positive impact on people’s health.

360 Well-Being Study

Get a pulse on how people across the world have managed their health and adapted to the changes over the past year.

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According to the study, the pandemic has driven many people to reassess their priorities and there is an unprecedented focus on health and well-being. This is borne out in the study where mental and physical health are seen as the two most important aspects of overall health and well-being. And, it will have an impact on people’s priorities moving forward, driving an evolution in perceptions and needs.

Stay-at-Home Orders Encouraged Fitness and Healthy Eating

Surprisingly, and contrary to early pandemic predictions, study results reveal that more people are now eating a balanced diet and at a healthy weight than they were pre-COVID-19 pandemic. These results seem to indicate that the time spent at home due to lockdowns and working from home created an opportunity for people to adopt healthier habits and prioritize exercise routines, despite restrictions.

The Impact of Sleep on Health

Other aspects of physical well-being, such as adequate sleep, did not fare as well. Only 30% of respondents reported their sleep as very good or excellent when surveyed, compared to slightly higher numbers (34%) in early 2020.

Poor sleep and lack of sleep can influence mental health and affect how we cope with the stressors of daily life. This impact can be detrimental to overall health and may continue beyond the pandemic as many start to return to a more office-based working environment while still struggling with sleep.

Human Connection Reduces Stress

With many parents and children both learning and working from home over the past year and a half, there was an expectation that working parents with children would be highly stressed, in part since they were juggling work, school and children leaving little time to focus on themselves. Study results show that while working parents do report higher levels of overall stress, they have also been able to enjoy a greater degree of quality time with their family and children.


These findings underscore the importance of community and social connections on whole person health. “The positive impact of lower stress as a result of spending time with friends and family – even virtually - demonstrates the importance of human relationships as part of a broader well-being and stress management plan,” noted Ann Asbaty, CEO, Americas. “Those without strong family and community connections are four times more likely to suffer from unmanageable stress than those with strong ties.”


Global Well-Being: The Key Findings from our Latest 360 Survey

This year’s results, based on a survey of a record 18,000 individuals in 21 markets across five continents, offer some cause for cautious optimism.

Get the report.