Wellbeing has always been on our minds, but now health, happiness and fitness are becoming omnipresent. The availability and selection of tailored indulgence through exercise, nutrition, and regeneration is growing rapidly. The boundaries of health and wellbeing are increasingly blurred. Healthy lifestyles will affect all areas of our life, like food, cosmetics, entertainment, mobility and travel.
Technology will have a huge impact on our health – we exist in a paradoxical state, disconnected from our own wellbeing, while we’re digitally more connected than ever. The boundaries of addictions and gratifications are blurring. Devices provide us with gratification, but we have to consider the downsides of things like addiction and sleeping disorders.
Our modern lifestyle has created a totally new and previously unknown set of illnesses. Habits and microhabits are becoming a key factor – many maladies we thought to be irreversible or incurable can be healed through awareness and lifestyle changes. Wellbeing is examined from a long-term perspective instead of looking for quick fixes. A one-size-fits-all approach to wellness is outdated as the world of health and wellness is now about hyper-personalised healing plans.
06 Fitness around us
As an opposing force to sedentarism, fitness and daily wellbeing are growing even more central in our lives than before, with celebrities, influencers and lifestyle brands acting as catalysts. The phenomenon is crossing many boundaries, as fitness permeates our workplaces, travel and habits, and nutricosmetics seek to blur the boundaries of health, beauty and nutrition.
Lululemon, a popular yoga apparel company, is expanding its operations by opening restaurants that serve healthy food like acai bowls, but also entice visitors with alcohol and burgers. Their first Fuel restaurant in Chicago is connected to two fitness studios, blending functions in a bid to attract more people to their locations.
Equinox has opened an ultra-luxury fitness hotel in NYC. Seeking to strike a balance between luxury and lifestyle, the first Equinox Hotel features cryotherapy chambers, designer furniture all round and, obviously, a huge fitness space. With this new venture, Equinox seeks to expand their famed fitness experience – and grow their slice of the $4 trillion wellness industry – to the world of luxury hotels.
Citibank is offering financial wellness tips to their customers in a special portal. Created together with wellness brand Well+Good, topics range from net worth considerations to gaining financial control and travelling within your budget.
Nanobionic is a coating fit to be applied to any surface, like clothes or bedding. The coating contains minerals that your body heat activates. This allows the fabric to return energy to your body to boost blood flow, which is said to enhance performance, sleep and other factors.
07 Silent killers
Whereas pulmonary diseases and heart problems have been our scourge for a long time, our changing lifestyles are creating a new set of problems. We are sedentary, immobile, isolated and hunched over, and the blue light of our various screens might be slowly damaging our retinas.
Health is increasingly about our minds, too. Loneliness is rearing its head globally, driven by changing age structures and our beloved devices. Device addiction itself is fought with diverse means and with a growing industry around it. As a response to attention stealing, phenomena like dopamine fasting and biohacking are adopted to allow us to regain control and augment our daily lives. All in all, mental health is moving from a problem-centered approach to a perception of neurodiversity, where we each are unique in our cognitive facilities, mental models and ways of thinking.
Our shared project of healing is increasingly about preventative means – adopting the right habits to stay healthy and prevent these new maladies from ever reaching us.
Mon Ami is an app that mitigates loneliness by connecting college students with the elderly. The app seeks to spread positivity all around, with families knowing their loved ones have meaningful contacts while seniors and Gen Z’ers form rewarding relationships. In the physical realm, baby boomers seek living arrangements that alleviate the difficulties of aging. In the US, 12 senior cohousing communities help seniors choose a cooperative mode of living with shared values and shared spaces.
Your actions earlier in life can have a large impact on what your senior years look like. Scientists have found that an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged people is a predicting factor for physical functions during later years. Particularly blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, high triglyceride levels and smoking were stated as accurate predictive factors. The way we age holds significant implications for the economy, as well. As life- and healthspans get longer, there are benefits to be reaped from ‘Longevity dividends’, as described by Deloitte.
Progress is being made in the field of sound-related health, as a recent study found that ‘binaural beats’, closely tuned tones that are fed in the ears, allow for deeper and longer sleep. Ties to stress control, anxiety reduction and cognitive enhancement have also been found. Aural health is drawing in companies, too: Bose is opening a division dedicated to aural health.
Physicians are already seeing the adverse effects of climate change across most of their disciplines. It impacts medicine supplies through catastrophes as well as possibly causing side effects from prescription medication due to changing heat patterns.Our most vulnerable people, the old and the young, are the ones that are affected the most by rising temperatures and extreme weather.
08 Deep inside
Individuals are more aware, informed and empowered about their health and wellbeing than ever before. Individuals can go beyond the human senses, largely due to biometrics-driven digital health and wellness services, and the worlds of wellbeing and health are converging. This results in a shift – health decisions will be increasingly preventative and made by individuals, not healthcare professionals. Wellbeing services are reaching the state of maturity, where medical professionals can base their own services on wellbeing apps and data.
We are getting better information about our wellbeing through connected health, where AI connects biometrics to healthcare systems, providing comprehensive oversight. Beyond biometrics, breakthroughs in genetics open new avenues to personalized medication.
AI has the capability to predict who’s at risk of death – but we don’t know how. By teaching an AI with data of 1.7 million EKG tests, the AI was able to outperform doctors in predicting whether the patient is at risk of dying within one year. Overall, data is changing health from the ground up, with giants like Google amassing health data from various sources, at an increasing rate.
The power of antibiotics is steadily decreasing, and the answer to this problem could be Crispr, an enzyme that allows scientists to precisely edit DNA and RNA. Researchers have turned to studying micro-level applications of Crispr by having it turn a bacterium’s mechanisms against itself. Crispr could bring about an age of highly targeted antimicrobial remedies, mitigating the ill effects antibiotics have on the gut biome.
A technique called photoacoustic imaging, enabled by lasers, helps us scan and image our bodies with more detail than ever before. The technique makes X-rays look woefully old-fashioned, as photoacoustic images are much clearer while the scanning is completely safe. Originally a result of cross-disciplinary research, many companies are currently developing the technology further.
Researchers are engineering xenobots – tiny things made of passive skin cells and naturally contracting frog heart cells. By combining these two types of cells, scientists can observe how various cell structures affect the behavior of these xenobots. This information is then used to create new xenobots. Through this call-and-response process, scientists are hoping to decipher how cells communicate and how that communication could be controlled. This insight could help to create a new wave of robots, constructed of intelligent constituent parts of living tissue.
- →In what ways can your business intersect with wellbeing and health?
- →How might your services and business support wellbeing for your employees or customers?
- →Who has the responsibility for wellbeing in the future – individuals, experts or institutions?
- →What is health? What is wellbeing? How are the boundaries shifting and is it possible to have universal standards for these concepts?
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