Rushing to Health, the Wellness Journey

As consumers cope with the rising personal costs around their health, the lines between health and fitness trends are getting more blurred. Approaching a new year being healthier is usually top of mind for most consumers, even as many of us are learning to cope with high deductible health insurance plans and navigating healthcare as a significant out of pocket expense. This post is an overview of the movement from treating our health as episodic to a focus on everyday prevention and the innovations and science behind them.

In recent years, there has been an awakening of how our health is impacted by technology, environment sustainability, what we ingest, how we exercise, recover, our mental state and even our financial investments. What we have learned is we do not have to be passive about what life has dealt us but can change what before was thought of as predestined. People are having open and honest conversations about how mental health, “diets” are now a lifestyle, and how CBD is now seen as the next miracle in decreasing pain, inflammation and anxiety for both you and your dog.
When it comes to exercise, the benefits of group fitness do not have to be limited to working out at a health club or fitness studio, you can be part of a larger exercise community right from the seat of your in-home cycle or using one of the many wearables. Case in point, The Peloton movement has created a cult following of 250,000 subscribers across the country, showing huge potential for more accessible fitness models. We have also learned that shorter workouts can be more impactful but that investing in recovery is just as important. In New York, ReCover, a studio that focuses only on recovery, the most sought-after session is NuCalm-a thirty minute immersive “power nap” that provides 2-3 hours of restorative sleep.

Technology is both hurting our health and empowering us to make better choices. One in five households in the US, now uses a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google Assistant and most were purchased with the goal of making life less stressful. Systems within the house are being designed to respond to requests by not just providing information but acting on it. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to use your sleep monitor (tracked by your watch, your smart bed, c-pap etc.) to identify unrestful sleep patterns associated with light intensity and automatically adjust home light to trigger appropriate circadian rhythms. Just think how great your work day would be if all your associates came in after a good night’s sleep.

If you buy a refrigerator today with AI capabilities, it will order your groceries alleviating the need for that unhealthy stop for fast food because you did not have time to grocery shop. Some will even be able to make healthy menu suggestions using the contents currently in your refrigerator. So, you will just have to rationalized sneaking those French fries another way.
On the flip side, social media and additive use of smart devices are increasing depression, loneliness and our ability to decompress at the end of the day. How often do you find yourself checking your phone or watch as you work, attend meetings or are in transit? Research has found that young people, with device use, are especially susceptible to changes in brain chemistry, which can lead to increased drowsiness, anxiety, and may be linked to the tragic increase in teenage depression and suicides which has been rising annually. The addiction is reversible and of course technology has created an app for that. Moment is an application that allows you to set a limit on the number of times you can check your devices each day, and the Forest App plants a tree after you spend a certain amount of hours off your phone.
Ok, so healthy innovations are clearly pushing a lot of this quest for health, but if you look at the numbers you can see why, wellness is BIG business. Global Wellness Institute shows that the $3.4 trillion global wellness market is three times larger than the global pharmaceutical industry. Some are new revenue categories emerging like “Femtech”, coming in at 1.1 billion, is focused on helping women understand their personal health and wellbeing, Alternative medicine, with its growing acceptance over the last several decades, has reached 16 billion. With health care costs predicted to continue rising in 2019, consumers will increasingly take their health into their own hands continuing to support the growth of wellness industry.

If this brief overview has you thinking about what trends will impact your business, or ways to rewrite your new year’s resolutions, please share your thoughts. Over the next few posts, the discussion will explore the overlap of physical fitness and primary care (i.e. cortisol conscious workouts, one place sourcing, theories behind recovery, effective shorter training). We will take a closer at how providers are embracing the retail side of medicine, some creating new revenue streams with wellness programs to improve their healthcare delivery. And, look at the reality of making affordable access to healthcare a possibility with virtual technology and AI to improve the patient experience. So happy New Year and happy innovating in 2019.

The author of this post is Tricia Snyder Lewis, the originator of Re: Source and a creative thinker who utilizes her background in planning, marketing and operations to build integrated marketing solutions for organizations. She has passion for fitness, wellness and healthcare innovations working to creating work life balance.