Views On Wellness

Vitality: The Next-Generation Measure Of Health

Post-Covid, we know a whole lot more about the importance of health and well-being

In an October 2022 survey on the subject of ‘vitality’ CIGNA identifies the notion that less than one-in-five U.S. adults experience ’the capacity to pursue life’s joys with health, strength and energy.’ Excerpts are presented below. Access the full survey results at

The pandemic put a spotlight on the importance of health and well-being like never before. Stress, burnout, and loneliness were amplified, mental health concerns were exacerbated, and the fragility of our physical health became more apparent. In addition, the impacts of social determinants of health, such as income, education, where someone lives, and access to health care, became more pronounced. All of these factors, and more, influence the way we feel, live, and work.

As we move forward, it’s critical to recognize that our overall health and well-being are dynamic and multi-dimensional. Well-being is more than physical and mental health. It is everything that impacts our ability to pursue life with health, strength, and energy – our vitality. We need a new, more substantive health measure to help us achieve the best versions of ourselves.

Vitality is a driver and an outcome of health and work/life engagement, and we believe it is not only essential to individuals, but is also a catalyst for business and community growth. By measuring, predicting, and influencing vitality, we can inspire the personal, economic, and business growth that are hallmarks of a healthy society.

Together with psychologist Dr. Richard Ryan, the world’s foremost authority on the science of vitality, we developed a scientifically validated, proprietary measure of whole-person health – the Evernorth Vitality Index. Vitality gives us the ability to better understand health and well-being as they truly exist: composed of multiple, interdependent, dynamic dimensions. Vitality accounts for eight dimensions of health – financial, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, spiritual, and occupational.

Importantly, it also accounts for how people feel about their ability to make their own choices and be in control of their life across those dimensions – known as one’s autonomy, competency, and relatedness. The index then calculates the data to present as a single, comprehensive measure of whole-person health.

Using the Evernorth Vitality Index, we conducted an online survey of more than 10,000 adults across the United States – making this the largest study ever conducted on vitality, health, and productivity. It was fielded May 17-June 9, 2022, by Morning Consult.

Vitality in the United States: Top Research Findings

The research confirmed that those with higher vitality experience a wide range of benefits, from better mental and physical health to higher levels of job satisfaction and performance.

But our research also revealed that most Americans are not experiencing high vitality. In fact, less than one in five U.S. adults have high levels of vitality, which jeopardizes their ability to engage and contribute, impacting families, communities, work, and more. A combined 82% fall in the low and medium vitality categories, including 15% who are experiencing low vitality. The average vitality score among the general population is 67.4 out of 100.

Vitality is a driver and an outcome of health and work/life engagement, and we believe it is not only essential to individuals, but is also a catalyst for business and community growth...

Life stage, gender, community density, sexuality, and income are some of the factors by which vitality varies. Just as unequal challenges and circumstances result in well-documented health disparities, there are notable disparities in vitality.

Seeing disparities reflected in vitality is confirmation of its ability to capture and reflect whole-person health in all people. While we have contributed to addressing health equity, the Evernorth Vitality Index shows there is much more work required. We are committed to improving the vitality of the lives we touch, and we will use this data to help identify priority areas of action.

More than two in five people (43%) with low vitality say their overall health is fair or poor. They are more likely to experience chronic physical and mental health conditions, such as obesity, depression, and anxiety. They are also less likely to get quality sleep or wake up feeling well-rested, and are less likely to get the exercise or care they need. The opposite is true for people with higher vitality.

Vitality and Life Stage

People aged 18-24 represent adults who are part of Generation Z, and one in four are living with low vitality that is negatively impacting their health and well-being. This is in stark contrast to the 10% of people aged 65-75 and the 15% of people aged 25-64 who fall into the low-vitality category.

Low vitality among Gen Z adults demonstrates the value of looking beyond physical health, as a simple review across generations would find that they are, unsurprisingly, in good physical health relative to other age groups. They have lower rates of chronic conditions and are less likely to be obese, but that contradicts their overall lack of wellness that is likely to have physical consequences in the future if left unresolved.

The research revealed Gen Z adults with low vitality are:

  • Less physically active: A full third (33%) have not engaged in any physical exercise outside of their job in the past month, compared to 26% of adults overall.
  • Less likely to have healthy diets: Less than one-third (29%) consume fruit on a daily basis, compared to 41% of adults overall.
  • Less likely to get quality sleep: Gen Z adults are 10 points less likely to get 6-10 hours of sleep a night (69% do) than the overall population (79%).

Gen Z adults with low vitality levels uniquely face a crisis of competence, lacking confidence in their ability to manage their lives in general and across dimensions of health. This deficit appears to be particularly damaging to the mental health of Gen Z, as nearly one in three (32%) have been diagnosed with or are receiving treatment for clinical depression or anxiety – far higher than the general population rate of 21%. They are also more likely than people in other age groups experiencing low vitality to report symptoms of mental health issues.