Wellness trends for 2022 include getting back to nature and toxic muscularity

Wellness travel includes trekking and visiting natural sites to get that natural boost from nature. — Photos: AFP

People tend to believe that health, fitness and wellness are the same thing, but in reality, the three terms have different definitions.

You can be fit, but not healthy, or healthy, but not necessarily fit or well.

I bet you are confused now!

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (illness)”.

Meanwhile, it defines wellness as “the optimal state of health of individuals and groups”, which is expressed as “a positive approach to living”.

Fitness, on the other hand, is defined as a set of attributes that people have or achieve, which relates to the ability to perform physical activities.

Fitness is made up of many component, but the five main ones are cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition.

Good overall health should be your goal and wellness is the active process of achieving it.

The concept of wellness isn’t something new and stretches back to ancient Chinese, Greek and Roman cultures, which all emphasised holistic approaches to achieving health, wellbeing and harmony within one’s life.

To be well means to integrate physical fitness, happiness, relaxation, emotional balance, stress reduction and spiritual health, among others.

While you sometimes cannot choose your state of health, you can consciously choose wellness by living your life responsibly and taking proactive steps for your wellbeing.

Going to the spa, watching a movie, cooking, napping, meditating – all these can be part of your path to wellness.

Make your own self a priority so that you can feel good, and it will reflect in your body, mind and soul.

Eventually, you’ll be radiating with positive energy.

Last week (February 2022), the Global Wellness Summit released its annual wellness trends report, illustrating the new directions in wellness the organisation believes will have the most meaningful impact on the industry and people worldwide.

Here are some of them for 2022:

Dirt-y wellness

Soil is our planet’s most extraordinary ecosystem: one handful contains 50 billion life forms.

For millions of years, the microbial stew that is living soil has done its job, from cycling nutrients to plants to capturing vast amounts of atmospheric carbon.

Our forefathers lived in deep connection with soil as farmers and foragers, but now, we’re soil-deprived, no longer bathing in all that bacterial and fungal richness.

Mounting research indicates that soil and human microbiomes are connected, and that soil exposure has an eye-opening impact on everything from immunity to mental health.

A new regenerative agriculture – techniques that restore soil’s biodiversity – is the hottest topic in farming and is now posed to become a hot topic in wellness.

“Regen” or “soil-certified” will be the next food label, because it’s far more meaningful than “organic”.

Toxic muscularity

Body image not only affects women, but has also become a male issue.

Last April (2021), a survey by a British male suicide prevention charity found that half of men aged 16-40 had struggled with their mental health because of how they feel about their bodies, and pointed the accusing finger at mainstream and social media.

Toxic muscularity is contributing to the rise in male eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia (also known as “reverse anorexia” or “bigorexia”), which is the pathological preoccupation that you’re not muscular enough, no matter how big and lean you may be.

Toxic muscularity is resulting in more fit young men suffering from mental health problems due to negative body image.Toxic muscularity is resulting in more fit young men suffering from mental health problems due to negative body image.

From wellness tech to technological wellness

This is a kind of wellness that doesn’t just remedy the toxic toll that tech takes on our minds and bodies, but rather, puts health at the centre of how, and how often, we engage with technology at large.

To accomplish this, all kinds of collaborations are going on between the technology and wellness industries.

Look out for the metaverse – an online world that combines augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), allowing users to close the perceived gaps between digital and physical realities.

Wellness sectors, like fitness, beauty, spas, medical centres and mental wellness, are introducing new technologies and virtual worlds that can deliver a far more immersive experience and radically transform how wellness is delivered to global consumers.

For example, the WHO has started using AR and smartphones to train Covid-19 responders, while psychiatrists are using VR to treat post-traumatic stress disorder among combat soldiers.

Senior living disrupted

For years, it’s been said that 60 was the new 40.

But now, ageing experts say 90 will be the new 40 within a decade.

The exponential jump in longevity means that people are retiring later and focusing on being active and engaged with personal growth into old age.

Senior living communities are being relooked and rethought.

In the works are new models for intergenerational living environments that can set the stage for reducing age segregation, while increasing social connections, decreasing loneliness, and resulting in better health and wellbeing outcomes for all residents.

Wellness travel

New travel experiences tap into a sense of purpose, a desire to grow creatively and intellectually, and flourish in new environments.

Nature as a healer and a source of awe remains primary, whether at a rooftop yoga class or trekking the forthcoming Trans Bhutan Trail.

Seekers will be exploring the wisdom of the ancients in indigenous travel experiences; learning to grow their own food; expressing their creativity in art classes; and giving back to academia in citizen science programmes.

This picture shows people taking a bath at the Torel public pool in Lisbon, Portugal, where rooftops are being reborn as swanky bars, as well as backdrops for yoga classes, movie screenings and pools.This picture shows people taking a bath at the Torel public pool in Lisbon, Portugal, where rooftops are being reborn as swanky bars, as well as backdrops for yoga classes, movie screenings and pools.

Coaching certifications

The world spends trillions annually on healthcare and wellness, yet chronic disease rates continue to rise.

Health and wellness coaches (HWCs) are healthcare professionals trained in evidence-based, nuanced conversational techniques that get people developing the intrinsic motivation and confidence to hit realistic wellbeing goals.

Unlike the 15-minutes consultation most doctors give you, they spend about 50 minutes a week for at least three months with a client.

Their approach is radically different from the prescriptive model that rules both medicine and wellness, as HWCs believe motivation must be sparked from within.

Certified HWCs will increasingly work with doctors, insurers, employers, physical therapists, fitness trainers and people independently, because they are the missing link.

Next-gen naturalism

Due to the fragility of our planet and the instability of our supply chains, expect to see a long-overdue return to self-reliance.

This self-sufficiency boom is already evident in the global growth of outdoor survival schools, foraging, homegrown produce, etc.

This trend is very much in line with the larger shifts towards back-to-basics wellness.

Just as wellness is returning to the fundamentals, next-gen naturalism requires a Marie Kondo-esque simplification of one’s life and consumption, placing a refreshing focus on the natural world and ancient practices.

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 an uncertain future.

In unpredictable times, preparedness equals peace of mind.

Community wellness

Whether it’s new or renovated bathhouses featuring hydrothermal bathing (saunas, steam rooms, pools, etc), large-scale wellness water resorts, or public parks where nature meets art and wellness, cities around the globe are suddenly making the pursuit of wellness accessible, affordable and inclusive.

Communal bathing that hearkens back to European and Asian bathing cultures is inspiring an urban bathhouse renaissance around the globe.

New public playgrounds that merge nature and art with wellness are transforming cityscapes with new manmade beachfronts, scenic boardwalks and pop-up wellness classes.

Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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Nature , mental health , travel , senior health


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