Cigna Vitality Study Finds Kenyans Have The Greatest Vitality In The World

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The Cigna Healthcare Vitality Study has identified Kenyans as enjoying the most vitality out of the 12 markets analyzed. The global health services company attributes Kenyan vitality to a sense of optimism and a love of learning, which helps counteract their high levels of stress related to work and personal finance.

The Vitality Study is the first of its kind to focus on aspects of life such as mental health, work-life balance, and family relationships. Spanning twelve global markets, the study delved into eight key aspects of well-being: social, occupational, financial, intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional, and environmental.

Regarding vitality, Kenyans scored 79.9, narrowly surpassing Saudi Arabia (79.2) and the United Arab Emirates (77.1) but far exceeding the global average of 68. Two metrics seemed to account for Kenyan vitality: 75% look forward to each new day compared to the global average of 42%, and 84% value learning new things compared to the global average of 53%.

While Kenyans navigate a unique dynamic in their daily lives, eagerly anticipating each new day more than anywhere else in the world, financial concerns elevate their stress levels to global peaks. The Vitality Study revealed a concerning trend: all respondents surveyed in Kenya reported feeling burnt out, marking the second year running that Kenya leads the world in burnout, with 100%—the highest among all global markets—compared to the global average of 94%. Notably, approximately 73% of Kenyans attributed their stress to the cost of living, far surpassing the global average of 47%, while 86% of Kenyans expressed that the high cost of living makes it prohibitively expensive to maintain good health, far exceeding the global average of 38%.

Leah Cotterill, the Chief Distribution Officer for Cigna Healthcare Middle East, commented, “We recognize the paradox presented in the Vitality Study, highlighting a scenario where remarkable strides in vitality are concurrently marred by significant challenges in burnout, stress, and financial strain. This dichotomy underscores a complex landscape of health and wellbeing in Kenya, where advancements in physical health are often offset by mental and financial health pressures.

“It’s a reminder that while we celebrate progress in one domain, we must remain vigilant and proactive in addressing emerging challenges in others.”

Cigna Healthcares findings emerge from an economy that is growing strongly but suffering from global inflationary pressures. According to the World Bank, Kenya’s GDP grew by 5% in 2023, compared to 4.8% in 2022, but it faces challenges such as the cost of living, exchange rate pressures, and global economic uncertainties.

Apart from work and financial pressures, the Cigna Vitality Study revealed other positive insights from Kenyan respondents. They scored above global averages in their perception of areas such as overall wellbeing, good health, diet and sleep, interaction with friends and social activities, family ties, and mental wellbeing.

Key Findings of the Cigna Healthcare Vitality Study:

  • Demographics: Amid the cost of living crisis and geopolitical fears, young Africans between 18 and 44 bear the brunt of stress. Kenya’s millennials (ages 25-44) are particularly affected, with 96% reporting stress. Gen Z individuals (ages 18-24) closely follow, with 93% reporting stress. Despite slightly calmer trends among older age groups, Kenyans over 50 still experience stress levels above the global average.
  • Global and Regional Comparisons: Kenya exhibits the highest overall vitality score among the twelve global markets studied, with a score of 79.6. This outperforms even top-ranking countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  • Wellbeing Aspects: Kenyans outscored global norms across various well-being metrics, most notably, with 50% of Kenyans rating their overall well-being as ‘Excellent or Very good’ compared to 42% globally, with family (72%), faith (55%), and mental well-being (56%) all being rated highly and above the global average.
  • Stress and Burnout: Stress levels in Kenya remain high, with 94% of respondents reporting they are struggling to manage stress, compared to 80% globally. The ‘cost of living crisis’ is the leading cause of stress (73%), followed by personal and family financial concerns (61%).
  • Work Patterns and Stress: Kenyan workers face significant challenges with stress and work-life balance, with 83% reporting working outside regular hours. Moreover, 70% feel constantly connected to work, contributing to burnout.
  • Lifestyle Changes Post-Pandemic: Post-pandemic, Kenyans prioritize health and wellbeing more than ever, with 86% expressing a desire to make lifestyle changes. There’s also a renewed focus on family and friends, with 85% emphasizing the importance of being close to loved ones.
  • Employer’s Role in Health Enhancement: Kenyan employees seek more support from their workplaces to navigate stress and maintain wellbeing. Mental health support (60%), flexible work arrangements (59%), and private health insurance plans (70%) are among the top employee preferences for health programs.