1. Yoga & Meditation as Mainstream Treatment: Interest in alternative treatments will experience a second surge. Even though interest in alternative treatments is already high, more people, practitioners and patients will be willing to experiment with new remedies, activities and lifestyle changes to avoid these kinds of medications. A study finds that of the 41 million Americans that use mind-body therapies like yoga or tai chi, 6.4 million are now doing them because they were “prescribed” by their medical provider. Yoga, tai chi, qigong, Feldenkrais, guided imagery, acupuncture and other practices will continue to gain attention due to their ability to calm, soothe and attend to medical situations such as chronic pain, hypertension, obesity and stress. With returning PTSD suffering Iraqi war veterans and stress brought upon with tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes there will be a greater interest in how trauma affects us both personally and in our institutions, including our workplaces and schools and how to respond in effective ways.
2. Awareness & Prevention Will Have a Renewed Focus: As chronic diseases account for many of our healthcare issues and costs there will be a revitalized focus on preventative medicine. Anticipate the integration of wellness programs into businesses by employers and provide resources programs to encourage better health and prevention. This was predicted in our 2011 wellness trends but anticipate stronger campaigns on all fronts as health becomes a larger issue for society.
3. The Empowered Consumer Continues to Rise: The DYI trend among consumers will continue in 2012. And technology plays a large role here. Research shows that 80% of U.S. Internet users claim to have used the web to search for health-related information and answers. And that is just search. Many platforms from interactive healthcare kiosks to social media to personalized health sites are allowing consumers to empower themselves. As consumers increasingly turn to self-service technologies and channels, the entire healthcare industry has a tremendous opportunity to reach, engage and interactive with today’s empowered consumer. And that will yield some powerful results from consumers to doctors to advertisers.
4. Family Wellness Travel: The boom in solo travellers continues to rise for wellness holidays but more families are now searching for these types of getaways. Parents want their children to be healthy on holiday and also keep busy with plenty of activities so they don’t get bored. More resorts are also introducing healthy children’s menus so they can learn good habits early. Parents also want to be able to enjoy holistic activities and spa treatments, whilst their children are staying active.
5. Retail Plays an Increased Role: In response to the DYI demand from consumers in-store clinics and healthcare kiosks will play vital roles to connect with consumers for better healthcare access, awareness and treatments. Consumers are still frequenting brick-n-mortar stores; connecting with them while they are there offers great opportunities for healthcare providers, advertisers and the retail locations.
6. Holidaying with Health Gurus: Top health and fitness experts now work at some of the leading resorts around the world. More people want to receive dedicated support and guidance from the best in the industry; wellness retreats are bringing in the top yoga teachers, nutritionists, doctors, personal trainers and more health gurus to raise their game. Clients want to be inspired and informed so that they can lead a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle when they return home. Expect more tailored programs to be developed such as ones provided at Tao Inspired Living or Rancho La Puerta.
7. Obesity Awareness: Losing weight will continue to be the primary reason consumers seek personal training support as the public responds to the expanded messaging concerning the dangers of physical inactivity and obesity. The recently released Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report that showed a modest improvement in the nation’s obesity rates for the first time in more than three years is a very encouraging sign. However, the fact remains that three out of five Americans are still overweight or obese, requiring more work to be done.
8. Whole-life training: Lifestyle/ Wellness coaching will become a bigger trend with more personal trainers, fitness centers and spas looking to holistically improve client lifestyle and expanding their education and training to include this skill set. There are efforts to clearly define the parameters of coaching and help distinguish coaching (which is future-focused) from other professional services like counseling (which delve into a person’s past). The medical industry and academic groups are examining the value of wellness coaching. Harvard Medical School (www.harvardcoaching.org) now underwrites an annual conference on coaching’s role in healthcare. One of the many research initiatives being analyzed by the International Coaching Research Forum (U.K.) is developing coaching as a global, academic profession. Companies like Wellpeople.com (U.S.) offer certified on-site or virtual wellness coaches for spas, hospitals and businesses. Anticipate fitness facilities to hire nutritionists and other allied healthcare professionals such as physical therapists and psychologists to serve the expanding needs of their health-conscious members including wellness, nutrition, and stress-management programs.
9. Community Collaboration: Access to fitness services and education will continue to expand in local communities including activities in gyms, parks, and recreation centers. Local leaders are taking a more active role to address health issues in their communities. This includes proactive measures through school-based education programs and engagement with low-income and at-risk families. The Canyon Ranch Institute provides Life Enhancement Programs in underserved communities of the South Bronx, Cleveland, and Tuscon to prevent, diagnose, and address chronic diseases.
10. Healthy Fast Food: There will be a greater push to keep students and employees healthy. This will mean a closer examination of cafeteria food in schools and on-site vending machines in work places, including information on how eating patterns create stress, obesity and health and behavior problems. As more people recognize the failings of fast food and food processing companies expect vendors to upgrade their product offerings to develop and market products that are not only healthy but actually promote health.
11. Clean Eating Focus: The food-health connection will be very important. As we learn more about \”clean eating\” — consuming foods without preservatives, chemicals, sugars and other additives — our habits will change as we read labels even more carefully and appreciate the rewards of more energy and fewer chronic illnesses. Along with clean eating, we will also become aware of the problems associated with GMO crops that have been over-hybridized by corporations for fast growth and easy harvest. The Non GMO project, The Institute for Responsible Technology and others are working on raising awareness for consumers on the hazards of GMO foods on the environment and health.
12. Evidence based Spa Therapies: There has been a significant amount of efforts put forth by skincare companies and alternative therapy groups to provide research backing the results of treatments. SpaEvidence is a web resource that gives the world easy access to the “evidence-based medicine” databases that doctors use, so they can search thousands of studies evaluating which spa modalities are proven to work, and for which exact conditions.