In a recent online study conducted by Borderless Access about changing healthcare consultation scenario, including pre-travel healthcare consultation due to COVID-19, we found that patient behaviour and habits were significantly varied between respondents in the UK and Germany. This highlighted the notable influence ‘culture’ has on behaviour related to personal health.
To explore this further, we conducted another study in Germany and the UK to understand how habits and behaviour related to health and hygiene have been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Has the pandemic made people more health and hygiene conscious?
Since the pandemic, people all over the world have turned more health and hygiene conscious. Our study reveals that around 63% of people have now adopted better health and hygiene habits in their day to day lives.
Looking at the English and the Germans, we noticed that at 44%, this trend holds well with the English to a large extent as well. However, 32% of them believe they have always followed ideal hygiene and healthy habits. On the other hand, 21% of Germans admitted to having turned more conscious of health and hygiene. At the same time, 45% of them said they followed a hygienic and healthy lifestyle even before the pandemic.
Stepping towards a healthier living
In our study, we observed that across the world, 44% of people have started to include immunity-boosting foods in their diet. Interestingly, this trend is not as significant in Germany and the UK, where 15% and 14% of people respectively, said they have started consuming considered good for building immunity. At the same time, intake of vitamin supplements, while lower than the global average, is relatively high, at 20% in Germany and 23% in the UK. Also, a relatively low, but still significant number of people have switched to eating leaner meat, which is considered healthier than red meat.
Meanwhile, the majority of people in both countries are actively taking basic measures considered essential for healthy living. These include consuming more vegetables and fruits, eating home-cooked food and drinking plenty of water.
Notably, a shift to a healthier lifestyle has prompted a small group of non-vegetarians to change their diet practices. Particularly in Germany, 7% of our respondents said they have turned or are planning to turn vegan. This is still significant considering the fact that vegetarianism and veganism are a niche lifestyle choice in both countries.
Working out from home?
Since the pandemic, half of all people around the world are exercising more frequently compared to earlier (refer graph: Additional measures for improved health). Comparing that to the European countries, we notice that at 41%, the average person in the UK is exercising more compared to the Germans, at 23%. However, what’s more important is how are people exercising, considering gyms have been strongly impacted by this pandemic.
While initially gyms were forced to close their doors in many countries, most people have not returned to working out in gyms even after they have opened. This is the case in Germany and the UK as well. Most people are reluctant to exercise in gyms even with precautionary measures in place.
What’s also important to note here is that online/app-based workout sessions have not taken off well with the German audience, where only 4% of the respondents said they have opted for online sessions during the pandemic. In the UK, adoption of online fitness services is slightly higher at 7%. The global average, meanwhile, is 16% and growing.
It would seem as long as the shadow of the pandemic is upon us, people prefer to work out at home, either alone or with others, where it’s safe and convenient. Going for runs or walks and cycling is another popular form of staying fit during the pandemic in both countries, especially in the UK.
Taking care of mental health during the pandemic
Pandemics can be stressful for many people and it can get even more difficult if it is limiting social interactions, resulting in uncontrolled emotions. Fortunately, there are steps one can take to stay positive. Mindfulness exercises like meditation, engaging in hobbies and virtual social interactions are a few ways one can overcome mental stress. Globally, over 60% of the respondents said they have either started mental health exercises after the pandemic or they are paying more attention to mental health workouts.
Notably, only about 10% of people in Germany and the UK said they were prompted by the pandemic to start mental health exercises, while less than 30% said they are working on mental health with increased focus. A significant majority, at 63%, said they are not focusing on mental health exercises at all.
For brands looking to cater to their consumers in these European countries, it is important to note how varied the consumer behaviour influenced by different cultures is in these markets and gaining reliable actionable insights is paramount for a brands success.
Connect with Borderless Access to help you with all your data-collection and research needs.
You can also read about how the average US citizen is handling their health during the pandemic in this study to gain a different perspective.