Liz Sheffield

3 Health and Wellness Trends for 2018

The world is never more focused on health and fitness than at the beginning of a new year. For many, the top health and wellness trends for 2018 could be more than temporary resolutions. In order to keep benefits offerings relevant and employees satisfied, employers should track what employees may be interested in. Here are three trends to watch.

Consumers Are Focused on Eating “Clean” Foods

Nearly a decade ago, as the New York Times then reported, legislation was passed to help consumers identify the number of calories in food items purchased at large restaurant chains. While some may still be counting their calories, in 2018 consumers are more concerned with how different types of foods affect their bodies.

This means that consumers will be checking labels at the grocery store and in restaurants. They’ll also be looking to their employers for healthy, clean (meaning minimally processed) food options while they’re at work.

Telemedicine Will Make Managing Health Concerns Even More Convenient

With busy schedules and competing priorities, it can be difficult for patients to find the time to get to a doctor to talk about smaller concerns like colds, minor aches, infections, rashes or prescription refills.

Health care systems have started to create solutions — including Anthem’s LiveHealth Online — to help members more easily connect with medical professionals. And, according to a survey released in April 2017, more and more health providers are taking note.

“Telemedicine continues to evolve from a specialty offering to a mainstream service,” notes the 2017 Telemedicine Industry Benchmark Survey, released by Reach Health. “Regardless of maturity [of telemedicine programs], all settings and specialties studied exhibit strong activity in terms of planning and preparation for telemedicine programs.”

In 2018, further advances in telemedicine will continue to reduce wait times to see medical practitioners as well as potentially decreasing the severity of symptoms caused by common illnesses like the flu and infections by getting patients’ symptoms addressed as soon as possible.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Will Keep People Moving

According to an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) survey, HIIT is set to be the most popular trend in fitness this year. HIIT consists of bursts of intense exercise followed by short periods of rest.

“HIIT offers participants a good workout that can be done without a lot of time or equipment,” said ACSM president Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D. “Research shows that with proper precautions, like working with a certified personal trainer, HIIT can be a safe, effective and fun way to exercise.”

The 4,000 fitness trainers surveyed also predicted 2018 favorites will include group training, body-weight training and strength training.

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It’s important for employers to look at trends like these to identify how their health care benefits can support their employees’ health and wellness goals. Engage with employees and communicate the ways your programs can help them build momentum around popular health and wellness trends for 2018. If your offerings fall short, talk to your health care partners to see how you might be able to implement new programs to meet your employees’ needs.

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