This year’s Global Wellness Summit attracted the largest and most diverse group of delegates across many industry disciplines in its nine-year history

Mexico City wasn’t just the setting in the opening minutes of the recent James Bond film, Spectre, but it also played host to almost 500 delegates from more than 40 countries in the 9th annual Global Wellness Summit in November. I’m sure Bond, who is shot, punched and kicked at in his films would appreciate a little wellness and some spa treatments!

This year’s Global Wellness Summit attracted the largest and most diverse group of delegates across many industry disciplines in its nine-year history. It’s a testament on how the wellness industry has grown from a small niche market to something both private industry and governments at all levels are paying attention to. What did delegates learn and what were the new trends for 2016 and beyond? The wellness industry isn’t small potatoes – it is worth about $3.4 trillion worldwide. It extends well beyond just spas, hotels and medical facilities. Wellness transcends both our personal and working life. Top leaders and visionaries from sectors in economics, medicine, government, technology, spa/wellness, travel, education and the arts were involved in debating and developing both strategies and programs to incorporate in the working world as well as people’s personal lives. Global Wellness Summit Chairperson & CEO, Susie Ellis said, “The Mexico City Summit was a watershed moment,” and continued, “Much like when the world first came together in Kyoto to declare solidarity against climate change.” Now let’s hope this summit has more success than Kyoto in getting governments on board and to adhere to new standards and commitments.

Delegates came up with the following 10 shifts/trends in Wellness for 2016 and beyond (in no particular order): From Optional to Mandatory Wellness Disease and aging can cost big bucks. Global economist Thierry Malleret said chronic diseases will cost $47 trillion worldwide over the next 20 years, or 30% of GDP). With an aging world population (800 million people now over 60), wellness can no longer be optional. More governments will take legislative action to require or reward healthier behavior. This isn’t a “maybe”, it’s near certainty: wellness tax incentives, and insurance companies rewarding healthy behavior (as tracked by wearable/implantable devices) will arrive by 2020.

From Cracking the Genome to Cracking the Epigenome “Cracking” the human genome was supposed to eradicate all kinds of diseases, but experts like Dr. Deepak Chopra explained that the future is decoding the epigenome, that DNA which is ceaselessly modified by lifestyle choices and environment. Research is underway pinpointing the 20 or so genetic markers (out of 2,400) that are actually modifiable by healthy living. Epigenetic breakthroughs are coming. From “In Your Face” to Imperceptible Wellness

Wellness has historically been something you “do.” The future will see wellness working seamlessly into our daily life: dawn-simulating lighting waking you up gently; bed sensors monitoring your sleep, making instant ventilation/comfort changes; and responsive materials that cuddle us or clothes that deliver the perfect massage. Sign me up! From Workplace Wellness “Programmes” to Total Cultures of Wellness at Work Workplace wellness approaches will change radically: current “program” mentality is not working. Companies will replace “ROI” obsessions with measuring total “return-on-value” (ROV).

From Medicine vs. Wellness to Truly Integrative Healthcare Integrative medicine is finally happening. Today every leading medical center either has, or is planning, a wellness/integrative center. Medicine will incorporate more wellness, but the reverse will also be true. Medical Technology Breakthroughs: from Ingestible Health Trackers to Stem Cells

Ingestible, health-tracking nanochips that monitor 50 biological functions 24/7 will make clunky wearables seem prehistoric, and usher in a new era of precision, preventative and personalized medicine. New directions in stem cell harvesting/freezing (instead of storing cells from a baby’s umbilical cord, use non-invasive extraction of stem cells from teeth) have the ability to make any cell “young” again: whether bone, insulin, pancreatic, heart, liver, brain, eye, collagen or elastin, cells. Wellness Homes: Big Growth and Big Premiums for Owners/Investors More homes, communities and even cities are being master-planned from the ground up for human health. It also pays off on the bottom line. Preliminary numbers indicate very healthy investment returns: between a 5-35% premium on wellness-branded, single-family homes; a 7-10% premium for wellness rentals; and a 15-30% average daily rate premium for wellness-branded hotels. From Superfood and Diet Trend Hysteria to Sane Eating Nutritionists say what we eat has changed more in the last 40 years than in the previous 40,000. Superfoods are on a collision course with sustainability: our manic importation of chia seeds, quinoa, goji berries, etc. is disturbing global ecosystems. The future? Clean, sustainably sourced personally intuitive foods – a return to eating as a pleasure. Works for me! Wellness Travel Booming: from Emerging Markets to New “Pairings” for Wellness Experts agreed that the heart of wellness tourism is the “transformational experience”: less about the destination, and more about how the experience alters a person’s mind, body and soul. Jean-Claude Baumgarten (former president, World Travel & Tourism Council) noted that because “wellness” can sometimes remain a hazy concept for travellers, that we’ll increasingly see it paired with every travel category imaginable: wellness and “adventure,” “culinary and wine,” “cruise,” “cultural,” “safari” and other niche markets. From Wellness for the Wealthy Few to the Democratization of Wellness There is a need to bring wellness to more members of society: the young and old, wealthy and poor, the healthy and ill. Other key things talked about at the conference included Conscious Capitalism – where success is measured not by net worth but by “net good.” Spa and wellness industries will finally get on board with cancer-related programs since it’s estimated 40% of people will get some type of cancer in their lifetime. Meditation and mindfulness will go mainstream and be incorporated in many different programs. Finally you will see more wellness related programs geared towards kids. Lots of food for thought. It’s an industry on a roll that is expected to infiltrate so many aspects of our lives. We can only hope it will lead to a better and healthier world for all.

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