The Wellness Movement

The Wellness Movement

A new era has dawned and with it a new current in terms of achieving sustainable health and vitality. As our planet falls deeper into a chronic disease crisis, insurers, world health organizations, private businesses and even government agencies have started to focus on developing wellness solutions to screen, prevent and treat underlying conditions before they become more serious in scope. Some of these initiatives are successful. Many others, not so much. Yet even amongst people and countries that have achieved a state of material abundance or economic advantage, there is a burgeoning desire for more balance and wellness, and for a quality of life that is both regenerative and sustainable.

Most people tend to think of wellness in contrast to illness; often they assume that the absence of illness indicates wellness. However, there are actually many degrees of wellness, just as there are many different states of illness and treatment. In fact, wellness suggests a willingness to work in harmony with treatment, while seeking balance through the application of awareness, education and growth to move toward a higher-level state of wellness. This, of course, is the basis of The Illness-Wellness Continuum and its growing influence on the marketplace should neither be diminished nor overlooked. Instead, it has spawned several top-tier and secondary industries throughout the wellness economy, ranging from medical tourism to spa hospitality services as well as lifestyle real estate and an array of companies across the nutritional supplement spectrum.

A 1993 landmark study by Dr. David Eisenberg appears to reflect this trend, setting the baseline by revealing that an astonishing one in three Americans had used some form of alternative or complementary medicine, and that few of the respondents had consulted with their primary health provider before doing so. By 2020, that number is expected to rise to 90%, which on the surface indicates that a wholesale paradigm shift to integrative medicine is upon us, without exploring the underlying reasons for this evolution. Clearly, a bold, new movement is at the horizon, but what events and factors are shaping this change?

In his best-selling book, Blessed Unrest, author Paul Hawken illustrates how a vast number of "eminently pragmatic" NGOs, nonprofit agencies, environmental activists and some keyed-in billionaires donating their wealth to honorable causes have begun a movement in response to a world changing in unprecedented ways. Essentially, it has fostered a sense where access to accumulated information and technology has placed real doubt about the harsh efficiencies and standards of modern life. It has gifted us with a deepening awareness of the world’s problems as well, leaving us with solid recognition that scientific and technological discoveries alone cannot - and will not - solve all of our problems given the erosion of faith that people have in our institutions.

These institutions – which govern technological, cultural, socioeconomic, geopolitical, and climatic changes – have been forcing us to redefine our place in the world in order to survive, thrive and find meaning. While millions have risen into extreme affluence and middle class lifestyles as globalization takes hold, billions more live in economic insecurity and poverty. The world is filled with such complex and paradoxical challenges, and the medical profession is no longer immune from scrutiny or suspicion. We have seen how remarkable advances in medical procedures and life sciences haven't altered the rise of chronic disease, obesity, and poor health. We continue to pay more than ever before into a health care system that can barely treat symptoms - and so rarely provides sustainable solutions. And yes, there is a sense out there that we've generally become less well for all these efforts.

Now, whether this data reflects an aging workforce, another of these vast paradoxical challenges facing the global economy or an unsustainable burden on our current health care model, the average world citizen suffers more chronic disease. They are far more stressed, more unhappy, often times less safe at work and find themselves under siege from environmental dangers ranging from air quality and biodiversity in food supplies to the real risks of climate change to rising toxicity in our drinking water; and they now face an unprecedented assault on their economic security. Assuredly, these factors alone are too large in scope for our institutions to solve on their own. And no single entity such as the health care system offers cures or magic pills when the symptoms are too pervasive to overcome.

Instead, these solutions must come from outside the walls of our institutions - through some collective yet connective movement that is both pragmatic and sustainable, in the way that most grassroots movements inspire socio-economic change. That movement today is known as The Wellness Economy and its influence is increasing in worldwide participation and financial clout. With a marketplace worth $3.4 trillion, this movement is three times larger than the pharmaceutical industry, representing 5% of global economic output while approaching half of worldwide health expenditures. So while these statistics in isolation are manifest to a movement with real economic clout, it is not designed for the destruction of capitalism or the health care industry as we know them, but it does demand that the medical profession and captains of industry start producing in responsible and sustainable ways.

The Wellness Gap

Like all important causes, it is important to dial back all the rhetoric and analyze the elements afoot. Consistent with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health, many would define wellness as a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being. It implies something more significant than mere freedom from disease or infirmity. Without a doubt something far more profound than improving lab results and management by pharmaceutical drugs. Wellness tilts firmly on the proactive side of the ledger - rejecting the reactive treatment of symptoms as its primary objective - by incorporating attitudes and activities that prevent disease, improve health, enhance quality of life and bring a person to increasingly optimum levels of well-being.

Meanwhile, the rising costs of chronic disease are escalating health care expenditures in both the developed and undeveloped parts of the world. And this phenomenon spells even bigger trouble for countries where companies largely subsidize health insurance in an era of hyper-competition fueled by globalization. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), occupational safety & health (OSH) initiatives, health and wellness programs in the workplace, organizational reforms, increased regulation and institutional review, new leadership and management paradigms - none of these efforts have seemed to stem the tide on the future of work, lifestyle and the wellness of people.

Clearly, we have begun a journey into the early stages of an overdue shift in Western thinking about optimal wellness and the existing economy’s relationship to it. And pushing this change are consumers who have formed the backbone of a wellness economy that is exploding internationally. In stark contrast to the medical world, which has focused on clinical and curative solutions, wellness is often viewed as empowerment, where the paradigm is seen as proactive, voluntary and individually driven; and therefore, it should come as no surprise that this is where opportunity with Zenus Global Health finds common ground.

People are looking for clinically proven, natural products that will improve their health, avoid the longer-term dangers associated with prescription drugs and help them feel younger. Patients want physicians who take the time to listen and explain the nature of their problems, who are aware of nutritional influences on health, who will look past conventional drugs and surgery as the only approach to treating illness. Many health practitioners believe these are very reasonable requests. Hospitals and medical schools are beginning to embrace complementary, alternative and integrative medicine. In many ways, the wellness movement mirrors the same trends that are found in the workforce today. That as the nature of work is constantly evolving in an information age so, too, must our health care system by becoming more fluid, adaptable and collaborative; while for the wellness-conscious consumer, empowerment now requires constant learning.

Consequently, this movement is not interested in removing the institutional and political components of society, but is instead trying to insert new wisdom and enlist fresh perspectives into the existing structure. Left unchanged or unchallenged, we are faced with an unsustainable status quo in terms of information and resources. We must become more engaged, a great deal more informed and a lot more concerned with how activities undertaken by others to support our lifestyle effects the environment and presents a genuine risk to our long-term wellness.

What companies once regarded as a hopeful platitude - creating an organization that is dedicated to wellness - has long been one of our guiding principles. At Zenus, our line of health-enriching products are well-positioned to capitalize on this Opportunity Movement by providing natural, clinically-tested formulas that improve overall well-being while adding energy and vitality to people's lives. This wellness movement is a golden opportunity: for your health, for a quality of life that you deserve and for your longer-term financial success.

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