Beat Stress With Massage

National consumer research released today said 81% of American adults feel as stressed (45%) or more stressed (36%) now than they did a year ago and are using a variety of strategies to cope. The research was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research and sponsored by Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP).1

Despite the sour economy, the overall use of massage therapy remains consistent: 14% of adult Americans had a professional massage in 2008 compared to 12% in 2004 and 16% in 2006. Those who did not receive a massage in 2008 were more likely to cite their pocketbooks as the reason than in previous surveys.

Among those who had a professional massage in 2008, 58% said they did so for “relaxation, restoration or stress relief,” and 85% of 2008 massage users were satisfied with the experience, predicting they would seek massage again in 2009.

“When many people are curtailing spending on vacations and other big-ticket items, massage is an ideal and lower-cost option for reducing stress,” said ABMP president and nationally certified massage therapist Les Sweeney. “Massage therapy has been shown to reduce stress hormones, relieve anxiety and depression, strengthen the immune system and improve attentiveness, so it’s an excellent strategy for challenging times.”

The nation’s leading mental health association, Mental Health America, recommends massage therapy as a way to diffuse stress. Some employers are turning to workplace massage to help employees cope with uncertain times and increased workloads.

“As employers are looking for ways to manage workplace productivity and stress, perhaps using fewer employees to do more work, some are bringing chair massage into the mix,” Sweeney said. “At about $1 a minute, it’s an inexpensive way to maintain loyalty, and manage anxiety and lost work time.”

Another Harstad Research finding was that visits to all types of health professionals, including medical doctors, declined slightly in 2008 as compared to 2006.

“This is not surprising in a year of belt-tightening throughout the economy,” Sweeney said. “It may be a matter of postponing rather than forgoing care. Consumers should keep in mind massage could be useful in helping stave off routine doctor visits, co-pays and missed work time because of the immunity-boosting power of massage.”

The proportion of adults who made at least one visit to a massage therapist (14%) again exceeded the proportions visiting a chiropractor (12%) or a physical therapist (9%). Forty-two percent of American adults have received at least one massage in their lifetime.


1 The January 2009 Health Care Survey was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research, Inc., the national public opinion research firm in Boulder, Colo. The survey results are based upon 602 random telephone interviews among adults age 21 or older nationwide. Interviews were conducted from Jan. 6 to 11, 2009. A random sample of 602 has a worst-case 95 percent confidence interval of plus or minus 4.0 percent about any one reported percentage.

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