Along with changing weather, each new season brings with it new trends—whether it's in the realm of fashion, home décor, or health trends. When it comes to fitness, nutrition, and well-being, however, it can be especially difficult to discern which trending health topics are worth embracing and which are better left untouched.
"I think that at the end of the day, the health and wellness trends that will never fade away are the ones that are focused on real, whole aspects of food and lifestyle," Natalie Archer, Holistic Health Coach and plant-based Chef, tells MyDomaine. She's not the only expert that believes a balanced approach will never go out of style. Nutritionist Ali Heller explains that the health and wellness trends that will stand the test of time are the ones that aren't actually trends at all. It's more about a moderate approach to eating combined with regular physical activity, Heller says.
Regarding fitness, celebrity trainer Erin Oprea finds the same is true when it comes to exercise. "I educate myself all the time on new trends and, let's face it, there's a lot of stuff out there that isn't backed up by science," she explains. "They sound good, but they don't offer long-term health benefits," Oprea continues.
Here are their picks for the 10 major health and wellness trends to watch in 2021.
A Hybrid Approach to Fitness
Oprea sees virtual training as one of the biggest trends we'll continue to see in 2021. "This trend allows people to get personal training and instruction from the comfort of their own homes," she explains. "It's helping beginners get the benefits of exercise without having to go to the gym, which can still be intimidating," Oprea continues.
Archer agrees, naming online workout subscriptions as one of the most popular trends of the moment. She points out that they're cheaper and more convenient than attending studio classes. "Online subscriptions are the way of the future," Archer declares.
From a broader perspective, in 2021 real-life and digital fitness will work to complement, rather than compete with each other. As wellness website Well+Good reports, "With Mirror, for example, founder Brynn Putnam drew on her years of experience owning Refine Method, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) studio in NYC, to create studio-level classes you can access from your living room. Peloton, meanwhile, still has bookable classes from its NYC mega-studio, where it records and produces all of its digital content."
The other benefit of buzzy fitness studios investing in streaming content means wellness enthusiasts in places without these brick and mortar locations can participate in the latest workouts and have access to sought-after instructors.
Instead of counting calories or following an intense cleanse, Archer recommends getting into intuitive eating as a way to get back to basics, which is shorthand for focusing more on the quality of what's on your plate as much as learning to recognize why you reach for certain foods, and how that affects your mood and energy levels when you do.
"It’s all about re-learning and respecting what your individual body truly needs to thrive," the Holistic Health Coach says. "By listening to your body (and your body only), you will know when you are hungry, when you are full, and when you are satisfied," she continues. Well+Good reports, "And, research shows, approaching mealtimes in this way may be a more effective tool for creating sustainable healthy eating patterns and is linked to better mental well-being."
Emotional Wellness for All
It seemed 2020 really lifted the veil of the stigma surrounding mental health, as celebrities spoke out about their internal struggles and research around the calming and mood-boosting benefits of mindfulness and meditation grew. There was an explosion of apps aimed at supporting our inner-world, such as the Headspace meditation app, or TalkSpace, an app where you can communicate with a licensed therapist via texts, voice memos, and video.
One-quarter of the world's population will suffer from a mental or neurological issue at some time in their lives, and almost half a billion people are currently dealing with a condition. Many with a mental health disorder, nearly two-thirds, never seek help from a health professional. Increasingly, explains the trends report, technology is helping to chip away at the stigma, cost, and time-investment barriers traditionally associated with seeking mental health services.
Food Sensitivity Testing
According to Oprea, this trend has been around for some time now, but she predicts it will only grow in popularity. "People often mistake food sensitivities for allergies and are missing out on some things they can still enjoy, but in moderation," she explains. With new technology, you can even take an at-home food sensitivity test to determine what sensitivities you may have.
More Fertility Options
We'll see fertility options become more accessible as a number of new startups enter the space, and in turn, offering more affordable solutions than ever for women who want to have children. Women have long been taking control of their family planning and fertility options, and Archer suggests one of the biggest trends to come out of this movement is technology-based fertility tracking. She personally used the hormone-free method and was able to conceive after trying for over a year and a half. These high-tech trackers do everything from track your sleep patterns and stress levels to your skin temperature and resting pulse rate. "I have seen a huge rise in women choosing this method of birth control lately, and I think that it is going to continue to grow in popularity this coming year," she says.
This growth and investment can be attributed to a cultural shift in how we talk about infertility, reports Well+Good. "Infertility is much more out in the open now; it’s not [viewed as] a dirty thing anymore,” Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, and founder of the Center of Human Reproduction, tells Well+Good.
In 2021, we'll see the rise in prenatal-specific workouts (and the studios that specialize in them) as women look to fitness to prepare for childbirth and ease the challenges of labor and delivery. "More and more women are working out (with their doctor's approval) for most of their pregnancies," Oprea explains. According to Oprea, this can make postpartum recovery and even delivery much easier. It's all about finding safe workout routines that work best for moms-to-be.
Ayurveda's Mainstream Momentum
Ayurveda, or an ancient system from India that focuses on balance between mind, body, and spirit, is nothing new. To the Western world, however, as overall trends shift from treatment to prevention strategies, more people are tuning into integrated ways to nourish and heal themselves from the inside out.
For example, "Tongue scraping is the new dry-brushing," according to Archer. It's an Ayurvedic self-care ritual and oral hygiene practice that you can do daily to remove toxins, bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. "When we sleep, our digestive system removes undigested toxins from our body bringing them to the surface of our tongue," she explains. "That’s why it is so important to scrape away these toxins before doing anything else upon rising. Otherwise, they will get reabsorbed by the body and can lead to digestive issues and a compromised immune system."
Healthy, Glowy Skin
According to Well+Good, another trend primed to peak in 2021 is the hyper-focus on skincare. In the last decade, we've seen the rise of multi-step Korean skincare routines, indie beauty brands touting sustainability and naturally-derived ingredients. Plus, Well+Good reports increasing interest in dermatologist's expertise, coupled with an increasingly informed consumer audience, is fueling growth of the skincare industry (and even surpassing the cosmetics industry, reports Well+Good.) Yet, Well+Good also puts the skincare industry on notice, citing the need for more products to serve the needs of every skin tone and type.
Rest and Recharge
While we've been foam rolling, trying to limit our screen time in the bedroom, and dabbled in CBD over the years, in 2021 there's still a lot of room to improve the way we recover in today's modern times. According to the 2020 Global Wellness Summit, often generic sleep solutions, coupled with our busy lives, interfere with our natural sleep-wake cycle, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm.
Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness
"While not a revolutionary concept, I think—and hope—more people will adopt the practice of mindfulness in their everyday lives," says Heller. "Whether it is putting your phone away while eating meals to really chew and enjoy every bite, or taking a few minutes out of every day to meditate, we can all benefit from being more conscious and fully present in any given moment."
Mental Wellness and Technology: Rethinking the Relationship. Global Wellness Summit.
Focus Shifts from Sleep to True Circadian Health. Global Wellness Summit.