The hardships of 2020 have certainly changed how we think about our health.

How we work out, what we eat, how we manage stress, the supplements we take – all aspects of personal health and wellness have been affected and evolved because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Certainly, we are seeing a push for a healthier society as a whole. And perhaps for the first time, many now realize that health is not black or white – that it’s not simply about being healthy or sick. Health exists on a continuum.

Good health is a process, and through exploring the tiny world within our body we can optimize and improve our everyday health and wellness. How fit we are when we are “well” can dictate how well our body responds when we get “sick” – a fact that has never been clearer than it was in 2020 as we saw who was the most susceptible to severe COVID-19.

So, what does this mean for 2021? Thorne expects many of the changes we first saw in 2020 will continue to shape our approaches to health and wellness in 2021. With a new year and a fresh start, let’s look at what Thorne thinks will be the four biggest trends when it comes to health and wellness.

1. Immune Health is Top of Mind 

Our collective interest in immune health reached new heights in 2020, with COVID-19 being the obvious catalyst. And it’s no stretch to imagine immune health continuing to be a big focus in 2021. We are all more aware of the need to support and optimize our immune system, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Expect a growing interest in diets and foods for immune health, immune-supportive supplements, and exercise routines and wellness classes based on optimizing immune function.

Furthermore, 2021 is likely to see a deeper dive into the immune system and how it works, including more awareness of biomarker testing – especially regarding gut health.

Although we correctly identify the mouth, nose, eyes, and skin as the initial first lines of defense that protect us from illness, our immune system is also regulated by our gut microbiome – so its health should be a top priority. In fact, it is estimated that 70 percent of the body’s immune system resides in our gut. For 2021, this means analyzing your gut’s microbiome to ultimately be able to cultivate good gut health (and immune health by extension) is likely to become a top priority.

The good news is that testing your gut microbiome from home in 2021 is now easier than ever.

2. More Focus on Mental Wellness and Self Care 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 – including social isolation from loved ones, along with the economic and health challenges it brought – took its toll on our collective mental wellness. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that 40 percent of U.S. adults reported considerably elevated levels of stress and mental health struggles associated with COVID-19.1

It is why we think that supporting mental wellbeing in 2021 will be a top priority. We think the early trends we first saw in 2020 will carry over and increase in popularity, including a focus on adaptogens and other nutrients and botanicals for sleep and stress support, home teletherapy, and a growing interest in both meditation and mindfulness.

3. Home Gyms Are Here to Stay

COVID-19 has certainly changed our relationship with exercise. Because many gyms closed during the pandemic, there was a surge in interest in home equipment, such as exercise bikes and weights, online exercise routines, personal fitness trackers, and home fitness apps – basically everything to stay fit while being confined. In a December 2020 survey, only 15 percent of respondents said they now plan to use the gym as their primary form of fitness.2 That should not be that surprising considering stay-at-home and lockdown orders in some states could continue into 2021, still making it hard to return to the gym.

So what does that mean for 2021? Will the future of fitness remain in the home? It’s hard to say for sure, but as COVID-19 carries over into 2021, Thorne expects to see a growing interest in digital fitness apps, at-home workouts, and outdoor activities.

Are you interested in Thorne’s advice for staying fit while staying home? Check out our articles below from 2020 covering at-home workout and fitness strategies:

  1. How Athletes Can Support Their Immune Function
  2. Weight Management Tips While Working from Home
  3. A Mayo Clinic Doctor’s Advice – Part 5: Boost Your Immunity with Physical Activity
  4. Easy Ways to Exercise at Home When the Gym Is No Longer an Option
  5. 10 Tips to Help You Deal with Social Isolation
  6. 5 Quarantine Health Tips from UFC Performance Institute
  7. NFL and NBA Athletes Share at Home Fitness Tips During Quarantine

4. A Digital Approach to Health

The pandemic has also caused a push in digital health trends. Telehealth – the practice of health care professionals seeing patients virtually – increased tremendously in 2020 and is likely to continue into the new year. In fact, virtual visits – thanks to technology – have shown they are both practical and preferable for many patients and practitioners.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association concluded that, “The unprecedented speed with which providers are now adopting telehealth technology, the fact that telehealth insurance coverage changes are probably here to stay, and the number of patients who have now used it for the first time, means it is extremely likely that the percentage of patients choosing telehealth will remain high even after the pandemic ends.”3

The rapid adoption of telehealth is also likely to spur other digital health trends, such as at-home health testing. With many Americans now preferring to monitor and track insights about their health from home, 2021 could also see the rapid adoption of biomarker testing that allows individuals to skip the waiting room and lab visit and test from the comfort of their home.


References

  1. Czeisler M, Lane R, Petrosky E, et al. Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the Covid-19 pandemic – United States, June 24-30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1049-1057.  http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6932a1   [Accessed January 8, 2021]
  2. RunRepeat. How will members stay fit in 2021 (Hint: Not the gym).  https://runrepeat.com/gym-members-staying-fit [Accessed January 8, 2021]
  3. Weber E, Miller S, Astha V, et al. Characteristics of telehealth users in NYC for COVID-related care during the coronavirus pandemic. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2020;27(12):1949-1954.  
  4. https://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocaa216  [Accessed January 8, 2021]