1) Dirt-y Wellness
Soil is our planet’s most extraordinary ecosystem, a living microbial stew that for millions of years cycled nutrients to plants and captured atmospheric carbon. For 99% of human evolution, people lived with soil, as foragers and farmers. Our current lack of soil exposure and contact with its bacterial and fungal richness impacts everything from immune to mental health.
Agritourism is forecast to reach $63 billion dollars by 2027 and farming is fast becoming the new wellness experience, with new soil-to-table and soil health experiences. More resorts are now staging mud/clay treatments at the source, such as Costa Rica’s Rio Perdido, where guests slather each other with natural volcanic mud before soaking in the wild thermal river.
2) Toxic Muscularity Comes Clean
Research is revealing that body image is not solely a ‘women’s issue.’ A British survey found that half of men aged 16-40 had struggled with their mental health because of how they feel about their bodies. Steroid abuse hides in plain sight in the improbable shape of actors, athletes, influencers, and action figures.
Activists and new initiatives are driving a new male body positivity movement, the equivalent of the conversation about unhealthily thin female models and Barbie dolls.
3) From Wellness Tech to Technological Wellness
Between fitness wearables, telehealth apps and smart home gyms, there is no shortage of wellness technology. Most tech (that involves screen time) is harming our health, not helping it. We need wellness that doesn’t just remedy the toll that tech takes on our minds and bodies but puts health at the very center of how, and how often, we engage with technology at large.
This means pausing, developing everyday technologies with wellbeing in mind, and treating our tech intake like our food intake!
4) Senior Living Disrupted
Today’s seniors don’t feel old and don’t want to be defined by age, nor socially segregated by it. The future is a retirement of the ‘senior living’ concept and a new focus on intentional intergenerationality. This development of pocket neighborhoods includes innovative, mutually beneficial intergenerational co-living models; and strategies for designing for intergenerationality.
5) Wellness Travel: Seekers, Welcome
Post-pandemic travelers are ready for adventure and engagement, with intention as the future of travel. Social indicators such as the ‘great resignation’, record retirements and global nomadism reveal profound commitments to work/life balance and personal growth and happiness. To meet these demands, the travel industry is welcoming these new intentional travelers. The newest travel experiences tap into a sense of purpose and a desire to grow creatively and intellectually, and nature as a source of healing and awe. There is a surge in Indigenous travel experiences and farm-wellness resorts where people learn to grow food, explore new skills.
6) Innovative Tech Closing the Gender Gap in Medical Research
Too many women’s health conditions (such as menopause, endometriosis and infertility) are underfunded and under-researched, leading to major issues in healthcare: women with chronic conditions have a harder time securing a correct diagnosis and finding effective treatments. This impacts women’s view of mainstream medicine. Startups and tech giants are trying to expand and improve research data on women’s health through AI, smartphone apps, wearables, and virtual trials. From data-gathering trackers to ‘smart bras’, Silicon Valley is reimagining a host of technologies that allow for better representation of women in trials, quicker access to participants, and more longitudinal data.
7) Urban Bathhouses & Wellness Playgrounds
Whether it’s new bathhouses featuring hydrothermal bathing (saunas, steam rooms, pools, etc.); large-scale wellness-focused water resorts; or public parks where nature meets art and wellness, pandemic-weary cities around the globe are suddenly making the pursuit of wellness accessible, affordable and inclusive. Urban sauna bathing is becoming more popular and playful, and public ‘playgrounds’ that merge nature and wellness are transforming cityscapes, with new manmade beachfronts, boardwalks, pop-up wellness classes, and even water sports appearing in unexpected places.
In addition to the rise in popularity of private sauna experiences, there is also demand for communal sauna rituals, a modern take on the old tradition of sauna masters circulating hot air, humidity and aroma inside by waving towels. Now, more of a performance, sauna masters use their towel skills for storytelling and theatrical singing and chanting sometimes even accompanied by laser and smoke shows.
8) Next-Gen Naturalism
The return of self-reliance
For decades, the concept of progress has been about requiring humans to do as little as possible. We praise automation, convenience and ‘on-demand’, admiring nature from a safe distance. As we acknowledge the fragility of our planet and the instability of supply chains, we’ll see a return to self-reliance. The self-sufficiency includes the growth of outdoor survival schools, foraging and growing your own produce. Next-gen naturalism is back-to-basics wellness that focuses on the natural world and ancient practices to prepare for a shaky future.
9) Health & Wellness Coaching Gets Certified
Coaches trained in the art and science of motivating healthy change have been the missing link in healthcare and wellness. The world spends $8.3 trillion dollars a year on healthcare and $4.4 trillion on wellness, but chronic diseases continue to rise. Training programs and standards are growing fast, new medical ‘care team’ models are making the wellness coach as central as the doctor, and an explosion of digital health platforms claims to put behavioral coaching at the center.
Certified health and wellness coaches will increasingly work with doctors, insurers, employers, physical therapists, fitness trainers, resorts, and people independently.
10) Wellness Welcomes the Metaverse
Health & wellness are attractive to the Metaverse which needs to diversify beyond gaming. Thanks to a range of social forces, including the pandemic, the rise of the ‘Wellness Metaverse’ is inevitable. Wellness is front and center in consumers’ minds, and at the forefront of business and government strategies around the globe. The world is seeking new technologies that can better engage and impact health.
From virtual reality and augmented reality to merged reality and haptics, the wellness metaverse will create vast opportunities for each sector of the $4.4 trillion dollars global wellness economy.