Is Health Care the new Spa Trend?
This article stems from a thought I recently had, when I was asked the question “what is health to you”?
Sounds like a pretty straight forward question, doesn’t it?
I started looking at this in more depth and asked around myself.
Here are some of the voices:
- ‘health to me is, when I am physically happy’
- ‘health to me is, when I am physically and mentally fit’
- ‘health to me is, when me and my beloved ones are not sick’
- ‘health to me is feeling strong’
- ‘health to me is being able to use my physical and mental abilities to full capacity’
- ‘health to me is general wellbeing, health is life as such’
A very outdated definition of ‘health’ is “the absence of illness”.
But already in 1946, the World Health Organisation defined health as:
“Health is a state of complete mental, physical, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, which takes a much more holistic approach.
How do we define health?
From the 1980, when the Fitness wave hit us, people started to be concerned about their physical health and state of fitness.
From the 1990 a shift happened from purely aerobic or muscle workouts to different concepts such as Yoga, which focus on mental health, or so called brain fitness as well.
Today we have a new age health understanding, which looks at a holistically balanced lifestyle. We understand that health is a process in which we need to combine body and mind and soul for a complete wellbeing. And we also understand our own limitations and calculated risks and how to balance those.
80 % consider ‘health’ most important
Our TalkWellness mini poll (thanks again to all of you who have participated) results in a whopping figure of almost 80% considering ‘health’ most important to their individual objective with regards to wellbeing and life quality. Followed by ‘family’ and leisure time, with ‘income, career, religion’ being less important.
What really affects our health?
In order to understand the relation between health and wellness, we need to look at influences, that affect our health. We can identify 4 major areas, which are
- physical environment
- life style
- health care system
The World Medical Association website reads: “The environment influences human health in many ways — through exposures to physical, chemical and biological risk factors, and through related changes in behaviour in response to those factors.”
Influences are: pollution, climate change, hazards, stimulus over-satiation, but also living and working conditions, cultural and social environment, and other social and economic aspects.
Biology is the area where we probably have least influence on our health on an individual level. Our health or conditions are pre-defined by our age, gender, ethnics, and personal genetic disposition.
Our life style is the area where we have most influence on an individual level: smoking, alcohol, sleeping habits, drugs and addictions, eating habits, physical activities, willingness to take risks, adrenalin activities etc.
But also access to and level of use of health care systems play a vital role: access to clinics, specialists, doctors, health institutions, health education. And not only the quality of the system as such, but also quality of communication and understanding with health staff including efficiency and effectiveness.
Technically health care can be both, cure of illness and preventive maintenance of health.
Who is responsible for our health?
Everybody is responsible for everybody elses health!
Health is not simply a matter of science, but a matter on an individual, cultural, societal and governmental level.
On a personal level we can choose healthy options every day.
On a cultural level, we can inquire about our regional health traditions. This is reflected in many Spa & Wellness Facilities in signature treatments and products with local ingredients.
On a societal level, we can assist others, educate our children, create awareness or come up with inspiring projects such as in Mexico City, where travellers are rewarded with free tickets when doing 10 squats… watch the video here:
Another project aims at making healthier options more fun, a great example is the piano stairs:
On the governmental level, comprehensive health care systems are developed, but also laws, such as smoking bans, support health.
Is Health a commodity?
We have basically two major health care segments, which are
a) the medical sector (by which I mean treatments such as surgery, prescription of drugs, medical therapies etc)
b) and a prevention sector which includes sports, nutrition, spa & wellness etc.
And yes, that makes health a commodity.
Germany spends 11.6% of their GDP on health.
South Africa 8.9%.
The US 17.9%.
(numbers by the WHO on The Guardian)
I am not going into the discussion of healthcare ‘being a right or a privilege’ and I certainly do not want to judge on who should ultimately be responsible for directing, managing or limiting health care: the government? health insurance? the individual?
Fact is, that health care is a commodity, limited by the number of clinics, and doctors, and so on, and that a health care system like we have enjoyed it in Germany for many years before the health reformation in 1996 was not sustainable.
Today, every individual has – and needs to take – more responsibility for their personal health, for their very own “…state of complete mental, physical, and social wellbeing”.
This is more and more understood, proven for example by a developed understanding of the importance of recreational sports.
Is Health Care the new Spa Trend?
The two words ‘health’ and ‘wellness’ are so closely connected that they have turned into a phrase, being used in a wide context
Health & Wellness Clinic
Health & Wellness Hotel
Health & Wellness Centre
Health & Wellness Food
Health & Wellness Products
I believe that the Spa & Wellness Industry has to step up and address the rising demand for health prevention – if only in certain industry segments – by providing authentic and quality health therapies, treatments and other health directed products or services. I also believe that further scientific evidence will aid in turning sceptics into followers, making health care the new spa trend.
Pampering is out. Health care is in!