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What does it mean to be healthy?

Woman Preparing Batch Of Healthy Meals At Home In Kitchen

The average American only believes they’re 70% healthy, according to new research.

Based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, 42% percent of those who did not rate their health as 100% can’t even remember the last time they felt completely healthy.

According to respondents, being healthy means eating healthy foods (45%) and being physically active (41%).

But this view may be holding Americans back from other factors that impact their health: just 29% consider getting 7-9 hours of sleep as part of being healthy and even fewer respondents see the health value in having a positive mindset (25%) or seeking mental health care (12%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Cambia Health Foundation, the survey found that a majority of those surveyed believe there are too many different ideas of what it means to be “healthy” (62%).

Woman Preparing Batch Of Healthy Meals At Home In Kitchen
Woman Preparing Batch Of Healthy Meals At Home In Kitchen

Mental health, particularly, is an area that respondents pay less attention to, as half of Americans shared that they have never received mental health care.

Besides those who felt like they didn’t need it (42%), others may have been open to mental health care but haven’t sought help because it was too expensive (14%) or they couldn’t find the time (11%).

The amount of time spent with loved ones also has an impact on people’s mental health; a fifth of respondents feel unsatisfied with the quality of their connections to others (19%) and how often they interact with their loved ones (20%).

The effects of mental health are important to keep an eye on — 39% weren’t aware that it can have a direct impact on physical health.

And while 80% said their doctor always asks about their physical health, nearly a third of respondents said that they’re never asked about their mental health (29%).

One thing that respondents can agree on is that being healthy means more than just visiting the doctor (82%).

Yet, a third of survey-takers admit that they’re currently putting off taking care of certain health concerns (34%).

“We believe that health is vital, personal and shaped by multiple factors including social connection and access to resources,” said Peggy Maguire, president of the Cambia Health Foundation. “That’s why we’re focused on advancing equity through whole-person health, so every person has the support they need to live and age well.”

Similarly, 34% admit to avoiding seeking medical care not only because of concerns over what the doctor will find (33%) but also due to inaccessibility.

woman mediacal nurse doctor uniform sick patient
woman mediacal nurse doctor uniform sick patient

Americans expressed that different social determinants of health impact them, like their economic stability (38%) and healthcare access and quality (36%).

For instance, a fifth of those surveyed would rate their access to healthy foods as below-average.

When it comes to their doctor, 22% of respondents struggle with finding transportation to their doctor’s office and another 19% have difficulty securing an appointment.

The average person needs to set aside an hour of their day just to travel to and from their healthcare provider.

Telehealth options are helpful to the 36% of respondents who feel more connected to their healthcare provider with these services.

However, one in six see their provider less than once a year or don’t even have one (18%).

Looking toward the future, 84% of Americans want to do better in making their health a priority as they get older.

Currently, 65% are feeling inspired to care for their health.

“All people deserve an equal opportunity to live their healthiest life possible, no matter who they are or where they live,” said Maguire. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but we continue to be inspired by people who prioritize health and are honored to work alongside our community partners to bring this vision of whole-person health to life.”


  1. Be more physically active — 40%
  2. Eat healthier foods — 37%
  3. Maintain a positive mindset — 30%
  4. Spend time doing things they love — 22%
  5. Sleep more — 22%
  6. Spend more time with loved ones — 19%
  7. Set goals for themselves — 16%
  8. Monitor stress levels — 16%
  9. Utilize products that help their body internally (e.g., vitamins, superfoods, etc.) — 14%
  10. Visit their health care provide more often — 12%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Cambia Health between September 19 and September 26, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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Laura Pucker

A sociable content creator and social media expert, who loves dance, makeup, and has an upbeat attitude towards life.


Lindsey Chastain

Lindsey Chastain

A creative writer passionate about helping others succeed in living their best life, creating art and making a positive impact.


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