7 Wellness Trends to Watch in 2022
Not long ago, the world was turned upside down, forcing us all to restructure our lives and reevaluate what it means to be “well.” And if there’s one thing we learned, it’s that the definition of wellness is changing. It can no longer be defined by physical fitness alone. In fact, over three-quarters of Americans think that being physically active helps their mental health.
As part of our annual Mindbody Wellness Index, one of the industry’s most comprehensive studies, we surveyed over 16,000 Americans to see how this shift will take shape in the coming year.
From immune health and intellectual wellness, to mental and sexual wellness, to facial exercises, music, and pets, here’s what you can expect—across all dimensions of wellness—in 2022.
From the inside out: increased interest in immune health
It’s no surprise the global pandemic sparked an increased interest in immune health. One out of three global consumers reported they were more concerned about immune health than before the pandemic started. This trend will continue in 2022, as over half (55%) of the US population is focused on their health and wellness because they want to strengthen their immune system to withstand illness and disease. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of people report that they’re more focused on health and wellness because they want to live a long and healthy life.
One in five Americans has tried new services or treatments that support immune health, but another 46% are interested in trying those services moving forward—women being more interested than men. Services that Americans have used more this year compared to last year include red light therapy, IV therapy (vitamin drip), and detox programs. Other immune health services Americans are exploring include injection therapy (such as B12 shots), infrared saunas, and salt therapies. We expect a focus on these services to show up in unexpected places this year—such as Harbor Fitness, a gym with an infrared sauna, and One Beauty Lounge, a spa that offers IV therapy.
If you’re looking to explore these services in their usual places, Alcheme Health focuses on whole-being medical services that cater to those looking to optimize their health and address the root cause of disease. Upgrade Labs uses biohacking to make clients’ bodies function better and more efficiently at the cellular level.
Intellectual wellness: your biggest asset
Today, the definition of wellness means more than just staying physically fit—Americans are increasingly focused on intellectual wellness.
The evolving definition of wellness is bringing more attention to the importance of intellectual wellbeing as part of a holistic routine. More than a quarter of Americans ranked intellectual wellness within the top three most important dimensions of wellness (learn about all seven dimensions). Almost half of them reported that intelligence inspires confidence. To engage in this dimension of wellness, 50% of Americans say they spend time on creativity and stimulating activities.
Intellectual wellness encourages one to explore new concepts, enhance skills, and challenge the mind through continuous learning. Fun ways to exercise this dimension of wellness include mentally stimulating activities such as pottery (check out Fire and Mud Studios), taking a class to learn a new instrument, and painting (through classes such as Ongoing Painting Fundamentals). For kiddos, Outside the Box provides multi-sensory stimulation to enhance brain development.
Mental wellness is top priority
Mental health was ranked the most important dimension of wellness by the greatest number of Americans. Half of America (49%) agreed that the pandemic has negatively affected their mental wellbeing—with women more likely to feel this than men. The pandemic appears to have had a more significant impact on Gen Z and millennials than older generations—as 57% of Gen Z and 53% of millennials reported the pandemic negatively affected their mental health versus 37% of younger boomers. Almost half of Americans (43%) said they are focused on their health and wellbeing because they want to reduce stress. Millennials are the most stressed generational group while younger boomers are the least stressed.
But how can fitness, beauty and integrative health services support mental wellness? The leading reason that consumers exercise is to feel better mentally (43% reported this). Over three quarters of Americans believe being physically active helps their mental health. In the past year, 37% of Americans have incorporated physical fitness into their routine to help support their mental wellbeing while 14% have added yoga and 9% have added wellness treatments like acupuncture to their routines. Over half of all Americans (and 61% of women) said they feel more confident when they get regular beauty treatments—in fact, 19% of Americans book beauty and grooming services to boost their self-confidence.
Sexual wellness is taboo no more
Sexual wellness, a facet of wellbeing that’s been historically kept behind closed doors, is now being talked about more than ever before. The once-taboo topic is becoming mainstream thanks to service providers, retailers, and influencers, as well as movements to empower sexual wellness. So much so that the global sexual wellness market is expected to reach $125.1 billion by 2026.
In 2022, consumers plan to define sexual wellness in new ways by taking part in a variety of sex-centric services. Nearly three in ten Americans report they're very likely to try new wellness activities that relate to sexual wellness (including individual or group therapy sessions, workshops, sexual performance therapies, and treatments for sexual health). Men and millennials are the most likely to have tried or to be interested in trying sex therapy or coaching.
While sexual wellness is not the most important dimension of wellness to America—falling behind dimensions such as mental, physical, spiritual, or financial—32% actively seek information or resources to help them improve their sexual wellness or skills. These services might include sex therapy, vaginal steaming, and erectile dysfunction treatments.
Almost half of Americans say they’re sexually fulfilled, and it may be worth taking notes from those people, as they claim to be stronger across the other dimensions of wellness than those who are less sexually fulfilled. Sexually-fulfilled Americans are not only more engaged in their wellness through healthy habits, but they also feel more connected to others, feel more spiritually fulfilled, and are generally happy. Join the party with businesses like Sea Change Holistic Wellness Center, which offers services that instill a sense of empowerment and embrace sexuality or spas such as Clean Start Cleansing.
Facial exercises are the new burpees
Almost half of Americans (48%) have prioritized skincare over the past year. And with a new self-care routine, comes new questions—more than a third (35%) of survey participants shared that they're looking to beauty establishments to provide continued guidance on their skincare routine.
Nearly three in ten (28%) respondents already do or are interested in doing facial exercises to tone their face muscles, like FaceGym or face yoga—with almost equal interest from men and women (28% and 29%, respectively). Millennials lead the way here, with 36% reporting interest in or already participating in facial exercises.
Due to high demand, options for consumers are popping up all over. From FaceGym or Glowinface, businesses are expanding their offerings from traditional yoga or even traditional workouts to face yoga. Yoga NW offers virtual face yoga classes weekly for attendees to tone the muscles in their face and neck the same as they do for the rest of their bodies. DesiredFace offers hour-long interactive online sessions that enable attendees to learn different structured facial exercises daily.
Wellness isn’t just for humans anymore
Whether they’re registered as emotional support animals or not, pets are well known for offering their owners love and comfort. This proved especially true during the pandemic. According to the ASPCA, one in five households have acquired a cat or dog since the beginning of COVID-19. Now, with these furry friends in tow, consumers are on the lookout for pet-friendly wellness experiences.
Two in five Americans expressed interest in going to a fitness establishment that's pet-friendly. The same proved true for the beauty sector, with 41% of consumers interested in going to pet-friendly salons or spas.
For both the fitness and salon/spa pet-friendly experiences, Gen Z and millennials expressed the most interest (over 50%) in pet-friendly establishments. In addition, Americans are game for a wide variety of animal-oriented wellness experiences for healing. Over a third of Americans surveyed (37%) say they’d take part in goat yoga, cat cafés, spending time with horses, etc.—with women and Gen Z being the most interested.
Keen to try it out? 6 Hairy Legs Dance & Fitness, co-founded by a certified dog trainer, is tapping into this market by offering a pet-friendly workout environment at their studio. Blue Sky Yoga & Healing Arts offers a variety of yoga classes and workshops, including a class called Down Dog with Your Doggie. For those looking outside the norm, Goat Yoga Las Vegas offers classes with baby goats every Saturday morning.
Workout classes are the new Spotify
From silent discos to decade-themed workout classes, music plays an important role in fitness experiences, particularly for Gen Z and millennials. For 71% of Americans, music strongly motivates them during fitness activities—younger Americans are more likely than older generations to agree that music fires up their workouts.
In fact, Americans who agree that music is strongly motivating during workouts report exercising more frequently each week (45% exercising 3+ times per week) and for longer durations (63% for 31+ minutes) than those who aren’t motivated by music (39% exercise 3+ times per week, and 56% typically work out 31+ minutes). Almost one-third (32%) of Americans say they often chose fitness classes based on the type of music being played (however, this is much more important for Gen Z and Millennials than Gen Xers and younger boomers).
Music doesn’t just pump consumers up while they’re working out. More than four in ten (41%) of Americans turn to their fitness and wellness routines to discover new music for life outside studio walls, with younger Americans being more likely to discover new music this way (49% of Gen Z and 51% of millennials). Northern Lights Athletics inspires their clients to get up and move through workouts that are set to old and new school hip hop and R&B. [solidcore], which specializes in a redefined Pilates experience, offers a range of themed sweats from Throwback Thursday and House Music to Sing-a-Long classes.
The ever-changing definition of wellness presents us with new opportunities to care for ourselves and our loved ones—even our furry friends. Stay tuned for more trends on how Americans are embracing their wellbeing this year, including ClassPass's recently released 2021 Fitness and Beauty Trends Report.