Every year in the UK we seem to face an increasing health and wellbeing deficit: inactivity, obesity, chronic health problems, musculoskeletal pain, stress and stress related conditions. If there are signs that we are starting to conquer our modern health and wellbeing woes they are not widely reported…much more often we read about shocking new statistics of how bad it is getting.
But progress is progress, and as many people progress down the road towards ill health, those of us in the business of inspiring health and happiness must progress our techniques, products and services to redress the balance and try to deliver the fundamental human right that is a happy and healthy life. So here are some of the developments we might have to look forward to (or be worried about!) in 2015.
First (finally!) stress management will be on the radar much more. Awareness and consideration for the seriousness of stress related health problems will become much more widespread. So many of the most successful companies in the world now create environments where health and happiness go hand in hand with career success that I think the shift towards workplace wellbeing support will continue to grow. Instead of just seeking to treat ill health, I think more employers are now striving for optimum health for individuals. This supports stronger performing teams in the work environment…and ultimately and stronger, happier and wealthier nation.
Stress seems well placed to form a focal point for this surge in wellbeing…so don’t be surprised to see a lot more accessible and affordable spa, relaxation and stress recovery activities on offer from employers, as well as gyms and leisure centres. The enormous growth of health and diet branded food will no doubt continue to rise in 2015, but expect to see much more consideration for specific diets, such as raw vegan, gluten free and paleo food diets. Supermarket shelves and restaurant menus alike will race to keep up as these niche diets become more mainstream and individual dietary requirements become more socially acceptable. They also create opportunities for businesses to tap into the latest healthy eating trends. If we all take the opportunity to learn about diet and nutrition, and how specific foods relate to our own individual bodies and health this is surely a very promising direction…but look out for marketing buzz words passing off the same old stuff as the new miracle cure! Another trend that seems to be gathering momentum is the wellbeing breaks industry. More and more people feel the need to escape the stress and poor health choices of everyday life, and they are willing to pay for it. The growth in juicing and detox breaks, where holiday goers can learn yoga and try fun activities in the great outdoors (in whatever climate takes your fancy) while eating delicious, healthy food shows how the modern lifestyle is taking its toll.
The desire for digital detox and escaping the endless inbox is something I think we can all relate to, and I hope there is more willingness to switch off in the future. It’s so easy to overlook our need to rest and recover in the always-on culture. Alongside more wellbeing holidays in 2015 I expect to see more rest and wellbeing elements built into conferences and away days.
Technology designed to measure and support healthy lifestyles has come on leaps and bounds in 2014 and this will no doubt continue as more big brands get in on the act. More and more of us look to technological solutions for our nutrition and fitness needs and we can definitely expect some exciting new products in 2015. As DNA testing gets more accessible we may see this playing more of a role in creating personalised nutrition and fitness plans. All this tech can really help some people achieve their goals, and share enjoyment of healthy activities with others. But let’s not forget that we have some pretty remarkable measurement and monitoring devices built into our bodies…sometimes we just have to learn how to listen to them and use the data better! It’s not the data that makes the difference, it’s what we do with them that counts.
I hope this is the year when we all learn more about our bodies and how to nourish and nurture them better. If all of us with an interest in health, fitness and wellbeing focus on improving fundamental health knowledge and empowering people to make better decisions for themselves I believe we can help make it a healthier and happier year for everyone.