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Technological wellness and the metaverse: The GWS top 10 wellness trends for 2022

By Lauren Heath-Jones

GLOBAL

By Lauren Heath-Jones

10 February 2022

www.globalwellnesssummit.com
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The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has released its annual trend report for 2022. 

The report, entitled The Future of Wellness, was unveiled during the GWS’s first Global Wellness News live and virtual media event, hosted by GWS CEO and chair Susie Ellis and GWS executive director Nancy Davies in New York City. 

The 110-page report, authored by several leading industry experts including analysts, journalists and wellness specialists, reveals the organisations’ top 10 health and wellness trends for 2022. 

A comprehensive summary of the trends can be found below: 

1. Dirt-y wellness: The health of the world’s soil and the impact of soil exposure on human health

Highlighting the importance of soil health and its subsequent impact on human health, this trend is based on mounting research indicating that soil and human microbiomes are ‘anciently connected’. 

Soil exposure can have a significant impact on our health, including our immunity and mental health. However, according to the report, modern humans are ‘soil deprived’, as we are no longer ‘bathing’ in soil as farmers and foragers, and therefore not receiving the health benefits. 

A picture of some hands scooping up fresh soil
According to the report, the human and soil microbiomes are 'anciently linked' | ©Canva

Regenerative agriculture using new techniques that restore the soil’s biodiversity is big news in farming and is set to become a huge wellness and food trend, with foods grown in regenerated soil expected to bear labels such as ‘Regen’ or ‘soil-certified’. Similarly, wellness and skincare brands will pivot towards regen-farm-sourced ingredients.

Within this trend, gardening and foraging will also continue to gain popularity.

“The world is waking up to the dire need to rewild the world’s soil and to the soil-human microbiome connection,” the report says.

2. Toxic muscularity comes clean

How bulging biceps and rippling abs have had a negative ripple effect on male body image

 

Body image is no longer solely a women’s issue, a growing body of research has revealed. A survey carried out by a UK-based male suicide prevention charity in partnership with Instagram in April 2021 found that half of men aged 16-40 have struggled with their mental health due to low body image. The culprits? Mainstream and social media.

 

Picture of a musclebound six-pack man with his top off

 

‘Toxic muscularity’ is contributing to the rise in eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia, also known as ‘bigorexia’, as well as, worryingly, a rise in Anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse. 

 

According to the report, the conversation about toxic muscularity and its poisonous impact on men, while still underdeveloped, is happening.

 

3. From wellness tech to technological wellness: A fresh take on digital health 

From fitness wearables to health apps and smart home gyms, we are constantly bombarded with technology that promises to make us well. However, this tech, which makes up the majority of our screen time, can foster an unhealthy dependence and actually be detrimental to our health. 

Technological wellness is the answer. Placing health at the centre of how – and how often – we engage with technology, technological wellness mitigates the ‘toxic toll’ tech can take on our mind and bodies. 

Picture of a woman in exercise clothes sitting down and looking at her watch as the sun sets behind her
2022 will see a shift towards technological wellness and a more healthy relationship with technology

According to the report, the approach would need a collaboration between the tech and wellness industries, and attitudes towards tech would have to change.

“[By] developing everyday technologies with health in mind, we can create a better kind of world: One where we treat our tech intake more like our food intake – taking greater care to understand how it affects our mind, body and overall being,” the report says.

Picture of Susie Ellis, GWS founder, wearing a white shirt and with her chin resting on her hands

“We can’t say ‘no technology’, as it also helps us live our lives. It's about finding a balance. The wellness world has to be part of that conversation now.” 

Susie Ellis

Chair & CEO, Global Wellness Summit

GWS CEO Susie Ellis said: “People are not going to totally disconnect these days so most spa and wellness destinations are now offering hybrid models to give balance and allow people access to their technology.”

 “In reality, we can’t say ‘no technology’, as it also helps us live our lives. It’s about finding a balance. The wellness world has to be part of that conversation now. It’s time for the wellness world to get involved. Let’s be part of the process of helping this go in a good direction.”

4. Senior living disrupted: A wrinkle in time no more!

According to several ageing experts, including the Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer Michael Roizen, MD, an exponential increase in longevity is expected in the next decade. This jump will see 90 becoming the new 40, meaning people will retire later and will focus on active and engaged ageing. 

“Healthier, more youthful, and more active than their cohorts in previous generations ,this incoming senior class doesn’t ‘feel old’ and doesn’t want to be defined by age, nor socially segregated by it,” says the report. 

Picture of a group of healthy, young-looking seniors enjoying a picnic in a park with trees in the background
Over the next 10 years longevity will increase exponentially, with 90 expected to be the new 40 | ©Canva

This trend will see new models of inter-generational living, including ‘pocket neighbourhoods’, that aim to increase social connections, decrease loneliness and improve health and wellbeing for all residents.

5. Wellness travel: Seekers, welcome 

Travel experiences in 2022, will be all about intention, tapping into a sense of purpose and a desire for creative and intellectual growth in new environments. 

According to the report, the pandemic highlighted the need for self-care, taking breaks and meaningful experiences. 

Picture of a woman in hiking gear sitting down to enjoy a dramatic sunset over the surrounding mountains
Intention will play a huge role in international travel in 2022 | ©Canva

Intentional travelers, known as Seekers, will head to destinations offering local experiences, such as art classes, citizen science programmes and learning to grow their own food.

“In 2022, it’s clear the thread of wellness is so braided into the travel world that nearly every trip is an opportunity for travelers to reclaim their lives, improve their health and discover their purpose,” the report states.

Women's health

Innovative tech closing the gender gap in medical research

 

 

The under-funding and under-researching of women’s health conditions has led to major issues in women’s healthcare. 

 

New technology innovations, such as ‘smart bras’ and data-gathering trackers are helping to bridge this gap by allowing for better representation in trials, quicker access to participants and providing longitudinal data. 

 

Research institutions and academia are starting to show interest, partnering with a wide range of startups, showing that there’s more than one way to collect health information.

7. Urban bathhouses & Wwellness playgrounds: Affordable wellness is coming to a city near you

Wellness is set to become more accessible, affordable and inclusive with the advent of wellness playgrounds, public playgrounds combining nature, art and wellness, while man-made beaches with scenic boardwalks and pop-up wellness classes are becoming available in cities such as London, New York, Paris, Sydney, Madrid and Tokyo. 

Picture of a subterranean pool in purple light with an arch shape over the top
2022 will experience a resurgence in bathhouses, inspired by Asian and European bathing traditions| ©Liquidrom

Additionally, an urban bathhouse renaissance, inspired by European and Asian bathing cultures, is taking place around the world. New and renovated bathhouses, featuring hydrothermal experiences such as saunas , steam rooms and thermal pools, as well as large-scale wellness water resorts are opening across the globe.

8. Next-gen naturalism: The return of self-reliance

The report predicts that the ‘collective reckoning of the fragility of our planet and the instability of our supply chains’ will see a return to self-reliance, with the looming threat of global upheaval forcing us to change our ways.  

Driven by Gen Z and described as the ‘self-seficiency boom’, evidence of this trend is already building on social platforms such as TikTok with hashtags such as #ecohacks trending. 

Picture of four young people in a sunny garden working with plants
The threat of a climate crisis will see a return to naturalism and self-sufficiency | ©Canva

This trend, the report says, aligns itself with back-to-basics wellness, with an emphasis placed on the natural world and ‘ancient practices’, and will require a ‘Marie Kondo-esque’ simplification of our lifestyles and consumption habits.

“It’s a no-frills kind of wellness that forces us to rethink how we use our natural resources, how we source our food, and ultimately– how we prepare for a shaky future.”

9. Health & wellness coaching gets certified 

The advent of health and wellness coaches is upon us, with certified health and wellness coaches (HWCs) becoming more central to all primary health care and wellness. 

According to the report, HWCs are healthcare professionals devoted to helping people make healthy lifestyle changes. More time-rich than medical doctors, HWCs are trained in evidence-based, nuanced conversational techniques to develop motivation and confidence, and can spend the time – anywhere between 50-minutes and three months – to help people hit realistic wellbeing goals. 

A picture of two women talking, one of whom looks to be giving advice
Certified health and wellness coaches will become more central to primary healthcare | ©Canva

These coaches, the report says, are “poised to explode” with rigorous training and certification programmes in place. Additionally, ‘care team models’ are becoming more and more prevalent in public health care providers and primary care start-ups, with the UK’s NHS offering Personalised Care Plans, while in the US more and more insurance providers are covering this kind of medical wellness intervention.

10. Wellness welcomes the Metaverse 

With the metaverse is something of an inevitability, the Wellness Metaverse is also inevitable. With wellness at the front of most consumers minds, as well as at the fore of several business and government strategies around the world, thanks to the pandemic and several other social factors. 

The trend will see the development and integration of new technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and haptics), that will be well placed to better engage and positively impact the health of more people.

Picture of a man bathed in purple light and wearing a virtual reality headset
The rise of the Wellness Metaverse has been described as an inevitability | ©Canva

Several wellness sectors including beauty and spas will introduce new technology, such as virtual reality, to create immersive experiences and ‘radically transform how wellness is delivered to global consumers.’

The GWS 2022 Trend Report was unveiled during a live and virtual event in New York City

“It’s always daunting to predict trends in the fast-moving wellness space, it’s especially so two years into a pandemic where the long-promised ‘post-pandemic world’ is becoming visible but is repeatedly delayed,” said Susie Ellis.

“One thing that this forecast makes clear is that the future of wellness will be anything but a ‘restart’ of 2019. What consumers now need most, what they perceive as ‘true wellness,’ has profoundly changed.”

Be inspired...

Click here to read The Future of Wellness 2022 Report

www.globalwellnesssummit.com
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