A recent survey reveals Americans perceive they may be aging faster as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than half of Americans (55%) think their body's biological age has aged faster in the last year than at any other time in their lives, and nearly half (46%) say they felt more aches and pains in the last year than in years prior due to COVID-19 limitations, like being more sedentary and experiencing gym closures.
Conducted by global market research firm The Harris Poll among 2,050 U.S. adults, the online consumer behavior survey sought to examine Americans' state of physical health and aging at the current stage of the pandemic.
As federal, state and local guidelines for returning to normal life evolve, a majority of Americans (76%) say they need to get better at being physically active. Many Americans define "aging better" as maintaining their ability to move freely without pain for longer (31%), living independently as long as they want (26%) and engaging in a consistent level of physical activity/exercise well past age 50 (26%).
Meanwhile, just 12% of Americans define "aging better" as keeping their skin free of wrinkles for longer. This suggests a shift from physical appearance being the key indicator for measuring aging to physical activity being the defining measure.
"Survey results indicate that living in pain has become a new normal for many Americans, but it doesn't have to be that way. The best path to aging better is, without a doubt, maintaining a healthy body through physical activity," said Dr. Charles Thigpen, Sr. Director of Practice Innovation and Analytics of ATI Physical Therapy. "Americans who feel aches and pains after a year of more sedentary lifestyles should consider using movement to strengthen their bodies and manage their pain effectively for longer, healthier lives."
For aches and pains that persist, Dr. Thigpen recommended physical therapy.
"Physical therapy is a great way to address those aches and pains that slow us down now, so they don't become big issues later in life," said Thigpen. "PT not only helps to relieves pain, but it also helps most patients avoid prescription pain medicine like opioids and limits unnecessary, expensive imaging and surgery."
Additional survey findings include:
- Most Americans (76%) believe they need to do better when it comes to being physically active. However, only about 3 in 5 Americans (58%) have added more physical activity or exercise to their routine in the past year to help their body age better.
- Americans ages 18-54 are more likely than those ages 55+ to say they have had more aches and pains in the last year than in previous years due to COVID-19 limitations (52% vs. 34%), while Americans ages 18-44 are more likely than those ages 65+ to think their body's biological age has aged faster in the last year than years previous (58% vs. 48%).
- If insurance coverage and/or cost was not an issue, 72% of Americans would be likely to make an appointment with a local physical therapist if receiving physical therapy meant they would age better.
Survey Method: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of ATI Physical Therapy between April 14-16 among 2,050 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Clifton O'Neal.
About ATI Physical Therapy
At ATI Physical Therapy, we are passionate about potential. Every day, we restore it in our patients and activate it in our team members in our 884 clinics (and 22 clinics under management service agreements) across the U.S. as of April 30, 2021. With outcomes from more than 2.5 million unique patient cases, ATI is making strides in the industry by setting quality standards that deliver predictable outcomes for our patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) issues. ATI's offerings span across a broad spectrum for MSK-related issues. From preventative services in the workplace and athletic training support to home health, outpatient clinical services and online physical therapy via its online platform, CONNECT™, a complete list of our service offerings can be found at ATIpt.com. ATI is based in Bolingbrook, Illinois.