Year in Review: 2019 Health Trends

Published:

December 30, 2019

Image via Shutterstock.

When it comes to the health industry, we’re accustomed to seeing fad diets and workouts come and go. From juicing and the Whole30 to kickboxing and CrossFit, every year seems to be defined by wellness trends that you read about in newsletters, see on Instagram, and watch on TV or are heavily endorsed by celebrities and influencers.

There’s no question – the health and wellness industry is having a moment. In 2018, the global wellness economy was a $4.5 million market. The top three sectors included:

  1. Personal care, beauty, and anti-aging
  2. Healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss
  3. Fitness and mind-body

This may be due in part to the growing realization that the world is sicker than ever and obesity rates have grown exponentially over the past few years, leading to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. There’s also greater awareness around health and well-being in general. We now understand that being thin isn’t the same as being healthy and there’s more to being healthy than just eating well and exercising regularly. Until recently, emotional and mental health weren’t as widely talked about as physical health.

The landscape of the health and wellness industry is evolving to include areas that support the whole body, and the majority of trends this year challenge any preconceived notions we had about diets and fads. Health and wellness trends emphasized the importance of our emotional, physical, and mental well-being. They focused on things that heal our inner self just as much as our outer self, including ways to reduce stress and prioritize self-care. Alternative medicine also came back into the picture in 2019 with herbs like ashwaganda, CBD, and reishi mushrooms. The ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting were popular topics, while plant-based protein started popping up everywhere (hello, Beyond Meat!).

Here are our five 2019 health trends that show no sign of slowing down next year.

Virtual fitness

Remember when you had to have a gym membership or book a spot in a boutique fitness class just to get in a workout? The days of stepping outside your home and into a studio are now optional thanks to the explosion of the virtual fitness market. From companies with at-home equipment, like Peloton and The Mirror, to top fitness apps, including C25K, Blogilates, Sworkit, and Strava, the options of virtual fitness are endless. New technology and connectivity allow us to take part in premium workouts while connecting with people around the world – all from the comfort of our own home.

Although an increasing number of people are gravitating toward this workout style, it doesn’t mean that gyms or fitness studios are dying out. Rather, it suggests that some might need to incorporate more technology to stay on top of these digital trends. This summer, Equinox Group announced that it will venture into online fitness streaming in an effort to compete with Peloton. Peloton also rolled out a treadmill and a variety of streaming services, including yoga, weightlifting, and stretching. Not only is this market expanding to include more equipment and styles of workouts, it’s shifted our viewpoint of connected health. You can connect with the instructor, other people in the class, and yourself – anytime and anywhere.

One-stop shop wellness

If there’s one thing millennials look for, it’s convenience. Thanks to the powerhouse Amazon, which makes buying groceries, cleaning products, and toiletries in one place possible, we’ve grown accustomed to the idea that you don’t have to go to multiple places to get what you want or need. And because we live such fast-paced, busy lives, we love the idea of one-stop shops, which recently extended into the health and wellness space. The Well, located in New York City, offers its members an integrative network of doctors and healers. You can see a Health Coach or functional medicine doctor, take part in a yoga class or high-intensity group workout, or enjoy seasonal and local food – all under one roof.

Companies like the Well might be onto something as millennials would rather spend money on experiences than material goods. Similar to how activewear (now “athleisure”) became an acceptable uniform outside the gym, companies and brands are looking to the younger generation for trends that will soon dominate our biggest industries.

CBD everything

From cookies and coffee to beauty products, sparkling water, and even dog treats, CBD touched just about everything in 2019. All you need to do is Google it…literally. In April 2019 alone, there were 6.4 million searches for “CBD” on Google, increasing 160.4% between 2017 and 2018. CBD has garnered plenty of attention this year due to its wide-ranging health benefits, which may include pain relief, acne reduction, easing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and helping treat epilepsy. Its most noteworthy feature, though? CBD may reduce symptoms related to cancer and alleviate side effects of cancer treatment. For example, one study found that patients treated with CBD experienced a reduction in pain. Over the next seven years, the global cannabis market is expected to reach $57 billion with the European market estimated to grow by 400% in the next four years. Although many forms of CBD are not FDA-regulated, this natural herb will probably be popping up in skincare products, health food stores, supermarkets, and coffee shops for years to come. 

Meditation

Millennials have reported some of the highest levels of stress in history, which is contributing to larger mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. Because this generation is often referred to as the “anxious generation,” due to negative influences like social media and burnout at work, many are seeking natural ways to release tension and achieve greater balance. In 2019, there was a lot of talk around self-care – from bathing with essential oils to journaling and daily exercise – and an increasing number of people started prioritizing their mental health. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we saw a huge lift in the mindfulness meditation market, too, with apps like Headspace and Calm leading the way. Meditation, a mind-body exercise known to combat chronic stress, boost mood, and improve overall well-being, is expected to grow by nearly $184 million over a ten-year period. Plus, according to the CDC, meditation is now tied with yoga as one of the most commonly used alternative medical practices. Currently, an estimated 40% of Americans practice weekly meditation, but we expect this number to rise as more and more people need to quiet their minds and more companies integrate wellness perks into their employee benefit programs.

Inclusivity

The fitness and fashion industries have long been dominated by young, white professionals labeled as “skinny” and “pretty.” However, a lot has changed this year, especially around body image and the negative implications these perceived ideals have on young adults. This year brought about greater acceptance and inclusivity, which moves away from self-loathing and body shaming and teaches us to honor our bodies and celebrate all that they give us. Not only did brands extend their range of sizing to include plus sizes, but many also embraced “real” people in their campaigns, including women and men of different ages, races, ethnicities, and sizes. Outdoor Voices challenged the belief that to look good in tight leggings, you need to be thin and toned. Brands like Aerie and ThirdLove didn’t shy away from using ethnic women with larger breasts in their bra and underwear ads. And according to The Business of Fashion, non-white models cast in the major fashion shows rose from 22% in 2016 to roughly 39% in 2019. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was also canceled this year, suggesting that brands need to evolve and adapt to this growing trend in order to survive.

Now, as we look to 2020, there are undoubtedly a few new trends to watch. Will plant-based protein evolve into plant-based everything? Are sustainable food and fashion taking over? And will more and more people start prioritizing their z’s to support their overall health and well-being?

From the IIN family to yours, Happy New Year! Thanks for being part of our community today and every day, and stay tuned for 2020 trends to watch!

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