2018 Footprints: The Chronic Pain Edition

Mithya Srinivasan
Jun 21 · 5 min read

Here at Achievement, we are always looking for new ways to understand and apply insights from everyday life, and of course, share these back with our community. You may recall where we analyzed general step trends from 2018. As a follow up, we decided to dive deeper into the step counts of a specific group of users — those who have reported a diagnosis of chronic pain.

Given that chronic pain can , it was no surprise to see lower average daily step counts among people with this diagnosis. In the charts below, you can see that those individuals without any self reported condition took more steps than those with chronic pain.

Quantifying this difference, we can see that on average, Achievers with chronic pain took 1,600 fewer steps than compared to those individuals with no condition — that’s almost an entire mile apart!

How did the top quartile of Achievers with Chronic Pain Fare?

We wanted to better understand Achievers who, while having chronic pain, still manage to be very active. In order to conduct this analysis, we identified “top performers” by splitting those with chronic pain into four quartile groups based on their average daily step counts for 2018. Then, we asked those in the top 25% some additional questions about their activity and experience to capture what they may have done during 2018 to maintain high activity levels.

Here’s what we found:

Achievers who self reported chronic pain that were in the top quartile (orange) of step count took ~5x more steps than those in the first quartile (black).

By day of the week, the top quartile started off strong at the start of the week and took fewer steps as the week progressed.

Seasonally, there was a slight spike in steps amongst our “top performers” in October and a small dip in December.

Echoing our first analysis, Winter saw the fewest number of steps of all the seasons.

In our survey, a majority of “top performers” mentioned that the biggest change they made that could have impacted their daily activity included making a lifestyle change. Remarkably, a lifestyle change was more common than a change in medication treatment.

Most Achievers who were in the top quartile expressed that the importance of being active greatly or moderately impacted their day to day experience with chronic pain.

They were very attentive to checking their step counts. Nearly 40% of this group said they checked step counts very often, and more than 35% said they checked often. Only a very small minority reported rarely or never checking step counts.

Importantly, we discovered that for these Achievers, meeting a daily step goal was very important. This aligns with a significant body of literature indicating that

How did they do it?

Regular exercise and walking breaks seemed to be the most effective way these Achievers met their daily active step goal.

While walking was the most popular form of physical activity, lifting weights was the second most common type of activity followed by running, hiking, and yoga.

These top performers participated in physical exercise almost every day. Over 40% said they exercised 5–7 days a week while over 30% mentioned that they did 3–4 days. Consistency seems to be key among these Achievers in the top quartile.

Achievers in the top quartile also valued exercise. Over 30% said that exercise was very important, while fewer than 10% said it was not so important.

What piece of advice would you share with others who experience chronic pain to encourage them to stay active?

This closer look at our Achievers provide valuable insight into some of the ways that people manage a chronic condition in their everyday lives. We hope that some of the advice from fellow Achievers in the top quartile may be motivating as you think about your health journey.

Here are a few select suggestions that we heard (note: submissions edited for brevity and clarity):

A body in motion stays in motion!

  • Keeping active, while hard at first, really helps manage chronic pain! It helps your mood and your sleep.
  • Find something you can do that doesn’t make your pain worse, and keep doing it!
  • Find what you enjoy, do what you can, accept that some days are worse than others and that’s okay

Buddy up!

  • Finding an activity to do with a partner makes it more enjoyable!
  • Friends and family are the best tool to keep you motivated even in the worst of pain

Set realistic goals

  • One step at a time: even walking 20 mins a day can make a huge difference!
  • Discover active activities and hobbies that are fun for you so that working out feels like play instead of work
  • Accept that some days are worse than others, and that’s okay!

Curious to learn more about other trends beyond steps on Achievement? Let us know what types of insights you’d like to see us explore in the comments.

The Achievement Team

Achievement

www.myachievement.com - Support your health. Reward your life.

Mithya Srinivasan

Written by

Consumer Marketing @Achievement

Achievement

www.myachievement.com - Support your health. Reward your life.