Date: 12 October 2022

10 Wellness Trends In 2022

Survivalist Wellness]

With the Global Wellness Summit 2022 on the horizon, we take a look at their forecasting report and share ten wellness trends that are sweeping the world as countries open up post-Covid.

According to Susie Ellis, Global Wellness Summit (GWS) chair and CEO,  “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.”

As always, the trends include the cool, new experiences rising in wellness: from pandemic-weary cities being reimagined as accessible “wellness playgrounds” to destinations answering the call of a new purpose-seeking wellness traveler, with experiences that help them grow intellectually, spiritually and creatively. Let’s explore the Wellness Trends of 2022


1. Dirty Wellness

The health of the world’s soil and the impact of soil exposure on human health are becoming far more important. Soil, that mysterious world underfoot, 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 did its job: from cycling nutrients to plants to capturing vast amounts of atmospheric carbon. For 99% of human evolution, people lived deep in soil—as foragers and farmers. Now we’re soil-deprived, no longer bathing in all that bacterial and fungal richness. Mounting research indicates that the soil and human microbiomes are anciently connected, and that soil exposure has an eye-opening impact on everything from immune to mental health.

The problem: we’re in a huge soil crisis, so, a food, environmental and health crisis. Industrial agricultural methods quickly decimated the world’s soil microbiome: one-third of all farmland is intensely degraded. A new regenerative agriculture—techniques that restore soil’s biodiversity—is the hottest topic in farming and will now become a hot topic in wellness. “Regen,” or “soil-certified,” will be the next food label, because it’s far more meaningful than “organic”—not only for its huge environmental impact but because soil health is the true lens into food’s nutritional value (which has plummeted under both Big Ag and organic farming). More wellness brands will pivot to regen-farm-sourced ingredients. In wellness real estate, regen-agrihoods are a real trend to watch.

We cover the many trends getting people back to some “soil bathing.” Yes, the gardening and foraging manias continue, but more people are becoming serious ag-geeks. An unprecedented greening of the urban landscape and an explosion in urban farms are underway. A new microbial architecture/design is even creating indoor spaces teeming with healthy soil microbes. At more wellness resorts, the farm—and increasingly the regenerative farm—is becoming as important as spa and fitness. We see whole menus of farm-wellness experiences. Think: soil-to-guest, beyond farm-to-table.

The world is waking up to the dire need to rewild the world’s soil and to the soil-human microbiome connection. A “dirty wellness” deliberately refutes wellness’ “clean” obsession: our bodies aren’t gated temples, we’re just a dance between the trillions of microorganisms in the soil and in our gut.


2. Toxic Muscularity

A growing body of research is revealing that body image is no longer solely a “women’s issue.” In April 2021, a survey by a United Kingdom (UK) male suicide prevention charity and Instagram found that half of men aged 16-40 had struggled with their mental health because of how they feel about their bodies—and half pointed the finger at mainstream and social media. “Toxic muscularity” can be literally poisonous. Anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse is hiding in plain sight in the improbable shape of actors, athletes, influencers and action figures. The consequences, both mental and physical (sometimes fatal), could however soon be hard to ignore. And steroids are merely the most notorious of an ever-expanding pharmacopeia of image- and performance-enhancing drugs (IPEDs) that have spread from backstreet gyms to commercial and high-end health clubs to high schools.

Steroids and other IPEDs don’t only impact the men and boys who take them, but also those exposed to chemically enhanced muscular ideals—so basically all of them (not to mention digital manipulation). Toxic muscularity is contributing to the rise in male eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia (also known as “reverse anorexia” or “bigorexia”): the pathological preoccupation that you’re not muscular enough, no matter how big and lean you may be.

This trend looks at the activists and new initiatives that are driving a new male body positivity movement—the equivalent of the conversation about unhealthily thin female models and Barbie dolls.

3. Technology & Wellness

Between fitness wearables, telehealth apps, and smart home gyms, there seems to be no shortage of technologies (tech) promising to make us well. But the truth is that most technologies—the technologies that make up the majority of our screen time—are harming our health, not helping it. That’s where the need for technological wellness comes in: A kind of wellness that doesn’t just remedy the toxic toll that tech takes on our minds on bodies, but rather, puts health at the center of how—and how often—we engage with technology at large. The future: pausing, developing everyday technologies with wellbeing in mind, and treating our tech intake more like our food intake.

4. Wellness Travel

Intention is the future of travel in 2022. Social indicators such as the “great resignation,” record retirements and global nomadism reveal profound commitments to work/life balance and personal growth and happiness. In fulfilling those goals, the travel industry is rolling out the welcome mat for these new intentional travelers with the invitation: Seekers, welcome.

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 programs.

The pandemic underlined the need to attend to personal health and taking a break—also known as a vacation—became a bigger part of the wellness picture. In 2022, it’s clear that 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.


5. Closing the Gender Gap

Too many women’s health conditions are underfunded and under-researched. This has led to major issues in healthcare: women with chronic conditions have a harder time securing a correct diagnosis and finding effective treatments, thereby impacting their view of mainstream medicine. Patients wonder: why aren’t there more solutions out there?

This trend explores how startups and tech giants are increasingly trying to expand and improve research data on women’s health through AI, smartphone apps, wearables, and virtual trials. From data-gathering trackers to “smart bras,” Silicon Valley is reimagining a host of existing technologies that allow for better representation of women in trials, quicker access to participants, and more longitudinal data.

SoakBathhouse Gold Coast

6. Urban Bathhouses

Whether it’s new or renovated bathhouses featuring hydrothermal bathing (saunas, steam rooms, pools, etc.); large-scale wellness water resorts (some of which accommodate up to 8,000 visitors daily); 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. Just a few examples: Austria’s Therme Group, which already attracts around 3.4 million visitors a year to its sites in Europe, is now investing heavily in North America; Italian wellness company QC Terme will open its next urban bathhouse on New York’s Governor’s Island; and a Finnish-inspired Nordic bathing spa opened in early 2022 in Toronto.

Additionally, sauna bathing (and communal sweating) is becoming more popular and playful—it’s less about being serious and silent and more about communal joy! Large event saunas have been opening outside of European sauna “hot spots,” with cities like Las Vegas hosting high-octane “Sauna Aufguss” performances and London night spots offering private rooftop saunas adjacent to the rooftop bar.

New public playgrounds that merge nature and art with wellness are transforming cityscapes—with new manmade beachfronts, scenic boardwalks, pop-up wellness classes, and even water sports becoming available in very unexpected places: like New York, Paris, London, Sydney, Madrid, Tokyo, and more.

7. Ageing Disrupted

For years, it’s been said that 60 was the new 40. But now, according to leading aging experts, 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. 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. That’s why today’s age-segregated models of senior living communities are no longer cutting it with a new generation that doesn’t believe in the concept of being put out to pasture upon retirement.

To meet the changing expectations of aging adults, we believe “senior living” (a term that we would like to see retired) will, and needs to, focus more on intentional intergenerationality. This goes back to “days of yore,” when people were not so transient, and communities stayed organically intergenerational. Such old-school intersectionality still exists in the world’s Blue Zones—places like Okinawa, Japan and Sardinia, Italy—which also happen to be among the places where people live the longest and age the healthiest.

8. Next Gen Naturalism

For decades, the concept of progress has been about requiring humans to do as little as possible. We praise automation, reward the businesses who deliver convenience on-demand, and admire nature from a safe distance—glorifying it without respecting it. But the looming threat of global upheaval is forcing us to change our ways. As we collectively reckon with the fragility of our planet and the instability of our supply chains, we all see a long-overdue return to self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

This trend details how the self-sufficiency boom is playing out in diverse ways, from the global growth of outdoor survival schools to the boom in foraging and homegrown produce. Next-gen naturalism is a back-to-basics wellness that refocuses on the natural world and ancient practices to prepare for a shaky future.

9. Certifed Wellness Coaching

The world spends $8.3 trillion a year on healthcare, $4.4 trillion on wellness, but we can’t stem the tide of chronic diseases. Behavior change is the toughest nut. So, why haven’t coaches devoted to helping people make healthy changes been at the center of everything? They’re a no-brainer, they’ve been absent, but now the certified health and wellness coach (HWC) is finally here.

In the Wild West of “wellness coaching,” the future is new distinctions, because what a certified HWC does is utterly unique. They’re 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 doctors give you, they spend time: around 50 minutes a week for at least 3 months. Their approach is radically different from the “prescriptive” model that rules both medicine and wellness. Doctors say exercise; wellness gurus say follow me on this path to weight loss or enlightenment. These coaches check advice-dispensing at the door because prescriptive models have failed spectacularly. Motivation must be sparked from within.

This trend explores how these coaches are poised to explode; how rigorous training and certification programs are now in place; how more insurance companies are covering. Primary care startups (like Vera Whole Health) and public health initiatives (like the National Health Service’ “Personalised Care” plan) are shaking up medicine with “care team” models, where this coach is as central as the doctor. We look at the avalanche of digital health companies promising to revolutionize everything from chronic disease management to weight loss by automating “personalized health coaching”—and problems with all the coach-bots coding the human out of the process. Wellness resorts, working on the “hi-and-bye” and “a week can change your life” models, have resisted HWCs. We see change: resorts like

10. Wellness Metaverse

For decades, the concept of progress has been about requiring humans to do as little as possible. We praise automation, reward the businesses who deliver convenience on-demand, and admire nature from a safe distance—glorifying it without respecting it. But the looming threat of global upheaval is forcing us to change our ways. As we collectively reckon with the fragility of our planet and the instability of our supply chains, we all see a long-overdue return to self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

To build a Wellness Metaverse, there will be unprecedented new synergies between the technology, wellness and health industries. Wellness sectors, including fitness, beauty, healthy eating, mental wellness, wellness tourism, wellness real estate, spas and workplace

About the Global Wellness Summit

The Global Wellness Summit is the premier organization that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively shape the future of the $4.4 trillion global wellness economy. Its future-focused conference is held at a different global location each year and has traveled to the United States, Switzerland, Turkey, Bali, India, Morocco, Mexico, Austria, Italy and Singapore. View more of their trend reports HERE.

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