CORPORATE WELLNESS MAGAZINE | DEAN GRIFFITHS | What Will Well-being Look Like in 2020
Well-being is a $3.72 trillion industry, according to new research released by the Global Wellness Institute. With people living longer and our pace of life only getting faster. Keeping healthy is now a full-time job within itself. On the flip side of this, statistics predict that the number of people who will suffer from one of the leading causes of disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and depression is only going to increase.
So how is the well-being industry trying to counterbalance this? I want to share 4 key areas that experts predict by 2020 will have the biggest impact in improving people’s well-being and allow them to live longer and healthier lives.
Here’s an interesting, though probably scary fact. Your phone and wearable devices probably know more about you than you do right now. They know when you wake up and when you go to sleep and the quality of your sleep, how your body responds to the workouts you put it through, and how your stress levels are affecting you physical and emotional states.
We now live in world of smart devices.
While fitness trackers are dominating the wearable’s sector currently, there is predicted to be a shift in how we track our information. Collecting data is not as new as we realize, in fact, it started as early as 1984, when Adidas stuck a microsensor into one of their shoes to record runners’ distance, running pace, and calorie burn.
According to research, analysis and advisory firm, International Data Corporation (IDC), smart watches will take the lead by the end of this decade, accounting for 52% of the market worldwide. Though what’s already starting to emerge as one of the newer technologies is smart clothing. IDC predicts it will grab a 15.6% market share globally by 2020. Having sensors built into our workout clothing, jackets, belts, and shoes actually helps the quality of information to be more accurate. It’s still a developing industry, but smart clothing is the future.
Emotional well-being is fast becoming a key focus.
The World Health organization is predicting that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is an area that technology can become really effective in helping people understand their physiological states.
Because our stress levels and our state of mind are intricately connected and subjective, one of the best ways for people to understand their emotional well-being is through Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
Within our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), we have two branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic activity leads to an increase in heart rate (e.g. during exercise), while parasympathetic activity induces a lower heart rate (e.g. during sleep). HRV, therefore, provides a measure to express the activity of the ANS, and may consequently provide a measure of stress and our emotional states.
To understand how this works, there are a number of seconds that elapse between one heartbeat and the next one. This is called the Interbeat interval (IBI). Measuring HRV is not about the average IBI, but rather about its variability. It looks at how much the IBI fluctuates from each heartbeat to the next. Our parasympathetic is super-fast, so sudden changes in IBI influenced by this branch. Thus, greater HRV equals more parasympathetic stimulation on the heart, and thus, more flexible emotional responding.
People with good HRV tend to be more optimistic, take initiative and are stress resistant. Whereas people with low HRV tend to be depressed or anxious.
With wearable devices that track HRV, users can actually track their stress levels over the long term and access clear data to help pinpoint situations that may cause their anxiety or stress levels to spike. In 2016, we saw the astonishing rise of Pokémon Go, which demonstrated accelerated digital change into areas such as gamification and augmented reality (AR).
Exercise is predicted to become more gamified by 2020.
Gamification within health and fitness is already visible to a degree via levels of motivation, challenges, and rewards that we see already with activities such as Crossfit. Though there is an emergence in applying the motivational triggers, data visualization and fun of gaming into the fitness experience further. Experts predict that more fitness devices connected with gaming devices via Bluetooth will become more crucial to getting more people active.
With AR, our health and fitness experiences and engagement will draw people into nonstop virtual interactions. Coupled with more input from sensors from our smartphones and smart clothing, users will get more accurate results and continued motivation to keep going. Because people will have a better understanding of information, and the different biomarkers they need to change to become healthier.
One of the exciting areas within well-being industry that is expected to advance by 2020 is Stem Cell Therapy.
Stem cells are the foundation for every organ and tissue in your body, they are also known as a centerpiece of regenerative medicine. Stem cells can be injected into the body to replace cells damaged by aging, disease or trauma. Even though stem cell treatments are yet to make it into the mainstream, forecasts for their growth are promising the market to explode over the next five to ten years.
In 2013, the global stem cell market size was valued at around $38 billion. Over the next five years, it is expected to nearly quadruple, reaching and surpassing $170 billion by 2020.
What effect this will all have is of course unknown. Though what is clear, the more we educate and inform people to understand what well-being means for them and how they are responsible for changing their habits and behaviors, then the more we can inspire them to make the changes they need to become healthier.