Fast forward three years and take a peek into the future of wellness. Industry insiders and research experts who track the industry make predictions about what our well-being will look like in 2020. Wellness is a $3.72 trillion business. People are living longer, the pace of life is getting faster and maintaining one’s health is time consuming.
Prediction No. 1: There will be a shift in the way we collect fitness data. The obsession with collecting personal data and tracking fitness started as early as 1984 when Adidas stuck a micro sensor into one of their shoes to record runners’ distance, running pace and calorie burn. This constant measuring of fitness will continue, not just by wearing a watch or phone but within clothing. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), smart watches will account for 52 percent of the market worldwide by the end of the decade and smart clothing will grab a 15.6 percent market share globally by 2020. Sensors will be built into our workout clothing, jackets, belts and shoes with the expectation that the quality of information will be to be more accurate.
Prediction No. 2: Emotional well-being is quickly becoming a key focus area for employers. The World Health Organization estimates that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. The best way for people to understand their emotional well-being is through the Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measurement. Our nervous system can be monitored and measured to show how physical health is being affected by stress and other emotional states. Individuals 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. Wearable devices that track HRV can offer clear data to help pinpoint situations that may cause anxiety or stress levels to spike.
Prediction No. 3: Exercise will become gamified. Fitness devices connected to gaming devices via Bluetooth will get more people engaged in fitness activities and nonstop virtual interactions. Following the lead of Pokémon Go last year, which had a large audience, companies are developing ways to engage more people in fitness activities. Gamification will use technology to motivate employees, visualize data outcomes, measure biomarkers and have fun.
Prediction No. 4: Advances in stem cell therapy will be an opportunity to improve individual wellness. Stem cells are the foundation of every organ and tissue in the body and are at the center of regenerative medicine. Stem cells can be injected into the body to replace cells damaged by aging, disease or trauma. While not yet mainstream, forecasts for their growth as a treatment option are poised to explode over the next five to ten years. The global stem cell market size was valued at $38 billion in 2013. Industry experts predict the market will quadruple and exceed $170 billion by 2020.