Physical Activity Can Help the 46% of Americans Who Feel Alone


Global health service company Cigna released results from a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States. The survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm, Ipsos, revealed that most American adults are considered lonely.

The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed some alarming findings:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46%) or left out (47%).
  • One in four Americans (27%) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43%) and that they are isolated from others (43%).
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20%) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18%).
  • Only around half of Americans (53%) have meaningful in-​person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
  • Generation Z (adults ages 18–22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.

Members of Gen Z, according to AudienceSCAN, are 611% more likely than other adults to be full-​time college or trade school students.

The survey also revealed several important bright spots. The findings reinforce the social nature of humans and the importance of having communities. People who are less lonely are more likely to have regular, meaningful, in-​person interactions; are in good overall physical and mental health; have achieved balance in daily activities; and are employed and have good relationships with their coworkers. More specifically, the survey showed:

  • People who engage in frequent meaningful in-​person interactions have much lower loneliness scores and report better health than those who rarely interact with others face-to-face.
  • Getting the right balance of sleep, work, socializing with friends, family and "me time" is connected to lower loneliness scores. However, balance is critical, as those who get too little or too much of these activities have higher loneliness scores. 
    • Sleep: Those who say they sleep just the right amount have lower loneliness scores than those who sleep less than desired and those who sleep more than desired. They are significantly less likely to feel as though they lack companionship (37% vs. 62% of those who oversleep) and are significantly more likely to feel like they have someone they can turn to (85% vs. 71%).
    • Spending time with family: Those who spend more time than desired with their family and those who spend less time than desired are on par with one another when it comes to experiencing feelings of loneliness. Those who report spending too much time with family stand out as being more likely than those who don't to say that they feel as though they are part of a group of friends (73% vs. 64%) and they can find companionship when they need it (74% vs. 67%).
    • Physical activity: People who say they get just the right amount of exercise are considerably less likely to be lonely. The loneliness score of those who exercise more than desired increases, while a similar uptick is seen for those who exercise less than desired. Those who exercise more than desired and those exercising for just the right amount are on par when it comes to feeling as though they are part of a group of friends (79%, each), have a lot in common with others (75% of those who exercise more vs. 79% who exercise just right), and can find companionship when they want it (76% vs. 80%).
    • The workplace: Those who say they work just the right amount are least likely to be lonely – the loneliness score of those who work more than desired and those who work less than desired showed an increase in loneliness. Not surprisingly, those who report working less than desired are less likely to report having feelings associated with being less lonely (e.g., feeling outgoing and friendly, there are people you can talk to, etc.), compared to those who work more than desired.

Members of Gen Z likely need more physical activity in order to pull themselves out of their lonely ruts. According to AudienceSCAN, this generation is 12% less likely to have memberships at a gym, likely because they are 49% more likely than most adults to want to save money to the point where they'll compromise on the quality of products.

The best way to reach this generation with ads for reasonably priced gym memberships and other physical activities is via social media. Members of Gen Z are 85% more likely than other adults to find ads on social networks useful, and 59.6% have taken action after seeing such ads in the past year, according to AudienceSCAN. In the past year, they've also been 65% more likely than other adults to take action after seeing a pre-​roll video ad.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-​op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.