The first wealth, Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, is health.
The last decade was all about “harder, faster, stronger”. But 2020 promises to be different: health will continue to take centre stage, but fitness will share the spotlight with wellness.
The “slow living lifestyle”, which focuses on adopting slower approaches to aspects of everyday life, will permeate into the health industry, and is likely to rule the coming decade. Born in Italy, slow living is a conscious, intentional, mindful, and organic way of life that aims to promote balance, ease, and sanity, and lower stress.
Last decade saw the rise of high-intensity interval training, the keto diet, and wearables. This year will be about slowing down – be it stress levels, workouts, diets, drinking habits, and more. Our list of the top 2020 health trends reflects this shift.
The switch to a plant-based diet
With rising awareness that rearing livestock has significant environmental and human cost, there has been an increase in vegetarianism and veganism across the world.
This trend is likely to continue as people eschew meat and opt for more plant-based food, especially plant-based protein. But there won’t be any rules or regulations.
As DJ Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet, says: “It’s more about getting the benefits of eating more plants without having to follow strict diet rules. It’s about just eating what works for you without labeling it.”
The move to high-intensity, low-impact interval training
Till now, most trainers recommended high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involved short, intense bouts of exercise that promised kept your metabolism revved up for hours after your workout. But slowing down is likely to bring in high-intensity, low-impact interval training (HILIT).
HILIT brings you all the benefits of HIIT, including increased metabolism, enhances oxygen consumption, reduced heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar, and calorie burn, but in a low-impact environment that reduces stress on the joints.
Top trainers are now rooting for HILIT as it ensures strenuous workouts while preserving bodies for longevity and ensuring proper recovery.
The importance of standing up for your health
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has awoken us to the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle by listing physical inactivity as the “fourth leading risk factor for global mortality causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally”.
Several studies have demonstrated the problems that sitting causes, going so far as to compare the harmful effects of a desk-bound job to that of smoking. Prolonged sitting has been linked to umpteen serious health concerns, including obesity, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, brittle bones, colon cancer, back pain, deep-vein-thrombosis, depression and dementia.
Reason enough for many companies to incorporate standing desks and meetings into their offices. Research shows that long walks and extended hours of standing can lower body mass index and cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar and posture, and lead to more energy and core strength. The war against sitting is on, and will continue through the decade.
The growing importance of sleep
Umpteen studies have revealed that sleep deprivation can fuel depression, apart from health consequences like stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
“Deficits in daytime performance due to sleep loss are experienced universally and associated with a significant social, financial, and human cost,” says a 2005 study published in the Seminars in Neurology journal.
With realisation of the impact of sleep on overall health peaking in 2019, the next few years are likely to see the 40 winks grow into 60, 75, and may be 90! In the US, nap bars —places where professionals can head to grab a quick power nap during the workday — are cropping up.
India may not have them yet, but sleep is certainly on everyone’s mind.
Terry Cralle, a registered nurse and sleep clinician who co-authored Sleeping Your Way to the Top: How to Get the Sleep You Need to Succeed, writes: “The trend from here on out will be to value sleep, prioritise it, maximise, and optimise it. We will likely look for more and better ways to optimise sleep quality by way of better sleep surfaces (mattresses, pillows and bedding), better soundproofing, natural lighting, better pajamas, better schedules, and more respect for our need for sleep.”
The emergence of home workouts
For many years now, gyms have been the go-to place when it comes to staying fit. But home workouts are now becoming de rigueur as people, strapped for time, try to make fitness fit into their daily lives.
In 2020, fitness apps and guided classes will ensure that people enjoy the convenience of time-friendly, at-home workouts.
We’re all set to see an increase in sales of home gym equipment, streamed fitness content, and on-demand workouts. The rise of InstaTrainers will see many more fitness enthusiasts turn to free or subscription-based “personalised or nearly-personal plans” from online trainers.
Many of us will cancel gym memberships, as on-demand workouts seem more accessible, inclusive, flexible, and easier to fit into busy lifestyles. The home workout, likely to be a huge fitness trend, can also be credited to more professionals working from home.
The spread of wellness vacations
Tired of vacations that leave you wanting another vacation? This could be the year of getting away from packed-to-the-gills holidays that don’t leave you revived and rejuvenated.
With peace of mind becoming top priority for most of us, there will be an increase in wellness vacations – vacations that aren’t centred on doing, but just let you be. Tailor-made holidays that offer guided itineraries that aim to re-energise will include activity, healthy dining, meditation, yoga, spas, and more.
And with sleep becoming an area of focus, the wellness vacation could well metamorphose into a new holiday: the sleepcation. A vacation dedicated to help you get the shut-eye you need, this break — it could be a couple of days to a week or even more — will help repay your “sleep debt” and return to work relaxed.
The focus on wearable technology
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has said that wearable tech will be the top trend in fitness in 2020.
“Wearable tech has become ingrained in today’s culture, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down,” said ACSM Past President Walter R Thompson, the lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
“Tech advances have made it easier than ever for users to collect important health metrics and work with fitness professionals and health care providers to improve exercise efficiency, develop healthy lifestyles, manage chronic diseases and, ultimately, increase quality of life.”
Smart watches, activity trackers, sleep trackers — wearable tech will continue to trend as people get keener to track all aspects of their life. Having fitness-related data handy is also likely to help inspire us to do more.
Apart from these seven trends, others that are likely to stay on top of our minds in 2020 include the “turn-it-off movement” that exhorts people to opt for digital detoxes; the “joy of running” that will be discovered by thousands of new runners; a conscious choice of “sober curiosity”, advocated by Ruby Warrington’s Sober Curious, which states that hangovers and alcohol may be keeping you from living your best life; and circadian-synced intermittent fasting, which can help with weight loss, longevity, and reducing major disease risk.
We’re at the end of the first week of 2020, and it’s time to pick which of these trends will be part of your resolutions this New Year. Get healthy, get wealthy!
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)