Health humorist Nick Snelling looks into his crystal ball to predict the health future.
Buckle up, health nuts – a whole new wave of medical, health and holistic practices are tipped to take off, so you might want to get in on the ground level now. From exercise trends to fandangled technology to trippy-hippy stuff that might just work, you can expect to see them all touted in glossy women’s mags and men’s health periodicals (y’know, the ones with the buff, chiseled dudes on the front flexing their six-packs) sometime soon. But remember – you heard it here first.
1. Becoming more grounded… literally
Ever heard of “earthing” or “grounding”? No, it has nothing to do with electricity or punishing your teenage children. Rather, earthing is the practice of walking, sitting or meditating with your bare feet firmly placed on a conductive material such as grass or wet sand in order to absorb the subtle electric charge given off by the planet. Sure, it sounds wacky, but some studies have suggested it may help reduce stress and treat chronic inflammation. The downside? Dog poo and bindies.
2. Exercise you actually enjoy
The days of miserably limping through your CrossFit or P90X workout and being cruelly cajoled by your younger, impossibly fit personal trainer are coming to an end. With an aging population requiring more diverse kinds of exercise regimes, fitness professionals are starting to shift towards including more orthopedic and therapeutic exercise practices in their skill-sets, as well as offering more joint-friendly, mind-body exercise like yoga and tai chi. Likewise, health experts are predicting more folk will be moving towards small-group exercise, so as to share trainer costs, and even individual bodyweight work (i.e. the heavy thing that you’re picking up and putting back down again is yourself!).
3. Putting your back into it
Stiff back? Fact is, when it comes to treating back pain, the old-fashioned passive methods of resting, hot or cold packs, electrical stimulation or ultrasound just don’t cut it anymore. Likewise, pain prescription and steroid injections are short term and can lead to other problems. So there’s now a movement towards active care like orthopedic massage and therapeutic or stabilisation exercises that can be done at home. The reason? They’ve been shown to work better.
4. Local organic make-up
Feeling guilty about buying that outrageously expensive face-paint you see slathered over the glacial cheekbones of a teenage supermodel because, deep down, you suspect it’s been tested on innocent, fluffy white rabbits in a laboratory somewhere first? Join the trend of locally-sourced, organically grown make-up. From moisturisers and lipstick to foundation and mascara – it’s straight from the farm to your face. See, you feel better already.
5. High-tech health gadgets
The use in mobile sensor devices that offer high-quality diagnostics and biometric readings on our bodies will skyrocket soon, changing the way we engage with our health on a daily basis. By easily collating data on everything from your heart rate to your blood pressure and glucose levels, your doctor can then simply download your stats to get a better reading on your overall health. Most of the technology out there already has an accompanying app to sync with your smartphone, so ditch that Angry Birds app and make room.
6. Meditation where your mouth is
Yes, it sounds very new wave, but the practice of mindful eating is taking off and has been shown to not only improve your digestion, but help support weight loss, stress reduction and overall increased wellbeing. The idea is pretty simple – just focus on the act of chewing and swallowing, consciously thinking only of eating with each mouthful. You enjoy the scent, flavour and texture of your food more, you don’t over-eat, and you cultivate healthy eating habits. Food for thought, indeed.
I really wanted this to be about killer cyborgs and six-million-dollar bionic men… but sadly, no. The new medical trend will be taking the robotic stimulation exo-skeleton technology currently being used to assist paraplegics and spinal-injury suffers, and adapting it to help people with less traumatic injuries such as bad breaks and sprains, in order to both increase their mobility and speed up their recovery. (Still, there’s nothing to stop you pretending that metal carapace on your bung knee is really a laser cannon.)