UnitedHealthcare report: 57% of Americans say employer wellness programs have improved their health

More than half of Americans enrolled in an employer wellness program report seeing improvements in their overall health.

The average employer is now investing more than $3.6 million each year in wellness programs, according to the third annual UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey.

Looking at the latest trends in employer-sponsored well-being or disease-management programs, more than half of respondents would be more likely to participate in a fitness routine if there were a social component. And for employees already implementing well-being programs, 67% of participants said it was important that a significant other or family members be allowed to join as well.

Another two-thirds of Americans said $2 a day would motivate them to spend an hour daily improving their health.

Of those employees surveyed that already had access to a well-being program, 57% said it has helped improve their health and 27% said the program helped detect a disease or medical condition.

RELATED: 4 out of 5 employees rate office well-being programs as valuable

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed anticipated being active until 80 years of age or older, with 11% saying everyday tasks would never be an issue. Gen Xers were most optimistic, with 74% expecting to maintain health beyond the age of 80 and 15% saying health issues will never prevent them from accomplishing everyday tasks.

Another 22% recognized that 80% or more of premature chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes are generally caused by modifiable lifestyle choices. And more than one-third thought between 50% and 79% of premature chronic conditions were caused by lifestyle choices. Another 32% of respondents said genetics were to blame for more than half of these diseases.

In addition, respondents listed a healthy diet, access to medical care and smoking cessation as top priorities. Other priorities on the list included getting sufficient sleep, engaging in strength or cardiovascular training, increasing social activity and improving mindfulness.

RELATED: Employers remain bullish on wellness programs

Of the respondents already invested in an employer well-being program, 82% said they were motivated to pay more attention to their health, 63% said they increased physical activity, 59% improved their diet and 30% reported improved sleep.

About three-quarters of those with access to wellness programs reported a positive impact on their health. Half said the initiative helped reduce stress and improve productivity. Another 35% said they took fewer sick days.