Revealed: the biggest health trends for 2022, according to a doctor: From tracking your stress levels to boosting your immune system, Bupa’s Associate Clinical Director – Dr Elizabeth Rogers –predicts the biggest health and fitness trends for the new year.
As we’re fast-approaching 2022, we’ve analysed recent searching habits1 to predict the most popular health, fitness and wellbeing trends:
1. Improve your gut health
2. Lead an eco-friendlier life
3. Boost your immune system
4. Incorporate mindfulness into your exercise routine
5. Track your stress levels
6. Try mindful drinking
7. Start a mood diary It’s more important than ever to prioritise your health. Our research found:
– 28% of Brits ignored a health concern, with 16-34 year olds most commonly avoiding the seeking of help.
– Over 1 in 10 wouldn’t immediately see a doctor if they suspected something wrong with their health.
– Over a quarter of Brits say they’re still less likely to see a doctor because of the pandemic.
The biggest health trends to adopt in 2022:
Improve your gut health:
– 83% increase in searches on Google for ‘gut health’
– 60% increase in searches on Google for ‘gut brain axis’
Dr Elizabeth Rogers said, “Prioritising your gut health is increasingly popular. Gut health can refer both to your digestive system also known as your gastrointestinal (GI) tract – and the balance of bacteria in your gut. Your gut digests food, houses a range of bacteria, absorbs energy and nutrients, and gets rid of waste products.
Your diet is one of the biggest influences on our gut health, so it’s important to eat a variety of foods, including wholefoods, fruit, and vegetables. Processed foods are often high in additives and preservatives, and these can disrupt the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Mental health may also impact your gut health, also known as your ‘gut brain axis’. Remember that it might take your gut time to get used to a new eating pattern, so make changes slowly to give your body time to adjust”.
Lead an eco-friendlier life:
– 418% increase in searches on Google for ‘climate anxiety’
– 238% increase in searches on Google for ‘eco anxiety’
Eco and climate anxiety are growing and that can be a normal response to what’s happening in the world.
Dr Elizabeth Rogers shares her thoughts: “You aren’t alone in your feelings – millions of people across the world will be feeling the same as you. Taking notice of your feelings and turning those into positive actions can support your wellbeing, but also make a difference for the planet.
To make sure your eco-friendly habits stick, start by making one or two small changes to live greener, and build them up over time. For example, choose local, seasonal foods where possible, and reduce food waste by planning meals in advance.”
Boost your immune system:
– 84% increase in searches on Google for ‘boost immune system’
– 60% increase in searches on Google for ‘low immune system’
– 50% increase in searches on Google for ‘strengthen immune system’
“We’re still navigating our way out of the global coronavirus pandemic, so looking after yourself has never been more important.
A strong immune system isn’t something you develop overnight but instead boosting your health and fitness in the weeks leading up to a much-anticipated event can make a huge difference.
Start the new year right by boosting your immune system by eating a more varied diet, sleeping well, getting your daily dose of vitamin D (add a supplement during the winter months), and practicing regular handwashing”, says Dr Rogers.
Incorporate mindfulness into your exercise routine:
– 80% increase in searches on Google for ‘mindful moving’
– 53% increase in searches on Google for ‘mindful exercise’
– 23% increase in searches on Google for ‘mindful running’
Not only does moving your body have a positive impact on your physical health, but it’s a great way to celebrate what your body can do and boost your self-esteem. It’s also on people’s radar more after a surge in searches on Google this year.
Dr Elizabeth Rogers shares, “Research shows that combining mindfulness with exercise has lots of benefits, including lowering your risk of depression, and giving your endurance a boost. Regular exercise can also boost your mood, relieve stress and reduce anxiety. This is because of ‘feel good’ chemicals such as serotonin that are released into the body whilst exercising.
A great example of combining mindfulness and exercise is through mindful running, where you’re mentally connected with your movements and avoid any distractions. Try to notice the feeling of your body moving and the different smells and noises around you.”
Track your stress levels:
– 83% increase in searches on Google for ‘fitness tracker’
– 80% increase in searches on Google for ‘stress tracker’
– 50% increase in searches on Google for ‘cortisol level’
“Another trend for the new year is tracking your stress levels. Some fitness and stress trackers worn on your wrist are now able to track your cortisol levels, but there are other options. Try taking note of any physical or mental stress symptoms, including pain or tension in your body, digestive problems such as nausea or constipation, and an increased heart rate. Emotional signs to look for include irritability, anger, feeling overwhelmed and racing thoughts.
Relaxation techniques – like breathing exercises or mindfulness – can ease any stress or worry you’re feeling. Practice these techniques when you’re feeling relaxed to start with and find out what works best for you. Whilst you may not feel like it, daily exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Exercising outdoors has plenty of benefits too, including boosting your mood and improving your self-esteem.
Remember – there is always support available”, re-iterates Dr Rogers.
Try mindful drinking
– 127% increase in searches on Google for ‘mindful drinking’ in 2021
Dr Elizabeth encourages us all to try mindful drinking after a recent study2 found that more than one in three adults (36%) increased their alcohol consumption during the first lockdown.
“A new concept that has captured the attention of people looking for a healthier relationship with alcohol is ‘mindful drinking’ – being aware of why you’re drinking and how much alcohol you’re having. After a surge of searches on Google in 2021, it’s expected to increase even more in the new year.
Mindful drinking often leads to healthier relationship with alcohol and less consumption. It’s a simple trend to adopt – to practice mindful drinking, pause before each new drink and ask yourself why you’re drinking. From asking how it feels to drink this alcohol to if you feel good, all these simple techniques can improve your relationship with alcohol”.
Start a mood diary
– 88% increase in searches on Google for ‘mood tracker journal’
– 50% increase in searches on Google for ‘mood journal’ in 2021
“After a turbulent year that’s placed great pressure on our mental health, mood journaling is becoming more and more popular”, shares Dr Rogers.
“Keeping a mood journal, or emotion journal, can be a useful way to get to the root of lingering negative feelings (and increase positive ones). This allows you to recognise negative emotions and take action to help these feelings, whether it’s opening up to a friend, loved one or mental professional. Writing down your feelings has been shown to reduce your feelings of anxiety and depression, too”.
1 Research based on internal analysis of Google search habits September 2020 to August 2021.