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All The Wellness Trends That Defined 2021

It was a year defined by the extended Covid-19 pandemic, and it was also the year more and more people became wellness-conscious.

With just a few days left in the year, we’re summarizing 2021’s most memorable fitness and wellness trends. Many of them have been spurred by new needs and interests born out of quarantine living, but with or without a pandemic, we hope to see many of the things in this list make it to 2022 and beyond. Check out the list below to see how many fitness trends you were a part of this year! 


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MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

1. Meditation 

Meditation was once a very niche practice. It certainly wasn’t an element of mainstream wellness among Filipinos, but with mental health concerns becoming a major area of focus with the pandemic, thousands of people in the country turned to the ancient practice to soothe common concerns like anxiety, feelings of uncertainty and isolation, mood imbalances, sleep disturbances, and even physical symptoms like palpitations, upset stomachs and migraines. For everyone who’s discovered the benefits of meditation and related habits, we’re sure that they’ll continue the practice for years to come. 

2. Decluttering and redecorating

Raise your hand if you had to do some deep cleaning in your home offices and bedrooms for your work/learn from home setup to work. Many homes underwent serious decluttering in 2021, the second year of the pandemic, in order to make way for conducive work and business environments. However, other individuals went the extra mile by not only cleaning, but totally overhauling a space too, floor to ceiling. It wasn’t just to fight boredom; pandemic researchers have found that physically changing one’s surroundings (especially when you’re constrained to the same four walls for months at a time) can give you the novelty that quarantine living unceremoniously took away while also stimulating creative juices and mental clarity.


3. Psychoeducation 

Psychoeducation is essentially becoming informed about all things mental health and psychological well-being. There’s been a very observable increase in interest in learning about mental health, what with a pandemic-affected population experiencing things like anxiety, depression, panic, worry, and isolation themselves, or having a loved one go through these experiences. Psychoeducation, though often delivered by psychologists during therapy, can be done by individuals themselves; they can research responsibility (i.e.: read only trusted and reliable sources of information), get in touch with a mental health professional for queries or individual counseling sessions, or even ask close family and friends about their experiences in therapy to learn from them about how they can help themselves should they be going through a mental or emotional slump. 


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DIET AND NUTRITION

1. Healthy food delivery services

Signing up for healthy food delivery isn’t a new idea, but pre-COVID, many of us only associated the service with those needing to follow strict dietary restrictions or with individuals aiming for sustainable weight loss. However, in the last two years, exploring healthy food became a more universal thing, with people paying a lot more attention to how food contributes to overall health. With limited dine-in options and the usual fast food or restaurant delivery fare becoming less exciting, healthy meal delivery services got their time in the spotlight.

2. Flexiterian diets

If we’re being specific, the DASH and Mediterranean diets remain to be the most popular diets among the health-conscious, but the last two years have seen an increase in more people ensuring they have more balanced meals regardless of whether or not they subscribe to a particular diet. More time at home meant people could take real time to prepare wholesome meals for themselves and their family, with some achieving their goal of becoming flexitarian. Flexitarian eaters are those who choose to eat more fruits and veggies/plant-based dishes, but will occasionally have animal meats and products incorporated in their meals. Say, in a week, a flexitarian eater will have vegetarian or vegan meals for four to five days and for the other days, can enjoy a (still healthy) plate of meats such as fish and other seafood or poultry. Having busy work or school schedules was a real barrier to getting to prepare meals like this, so if there was anything good to come out of quarantine living, it was that more time was devoted to healthy meal prepping. 


3. Zinc-dense foods

Everyone went crazy for zinc supplements after they were found to be a recommended defense against COVID-19. The thing about zinc is that it isn’t naturally produced by the body and when it comes to supplements, generally speaking, the best way to get your daily dose of them is to adjust your diet to include more foods that contain the minerals you’re looking to consume more of. When it comes to zinc, the foods rich in this mineral include dairy (milk and yogurt alike), eggs, shellfish and crustaceans (crab, lobster, oysters, clams, mussels), red meat, as well as some nuts and seeds (pumpkin, cashews, almonds). 


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IT INGREDIENTS

1. Homegrown produce 

It was all over social media—famous personalities and your favorite tita alike trying their hand at growing their own food so that they truly appreciate the practice of farm-to-fork dining. There were different versions of this but all were done to achieve similar goals: to contribute to the sustainability solution of wasted produce, to eat cleaner and healthier, to make better use of plant-friendly spaces at home, and to use gardening as an opportunity to nurture mental health, too. We saw gardens were converted to mini home farms, hydroponics and rooftop farming, whereas microgreens were others’ top choice. 


2. Meat replacements 

It was a good year for things like mushroom, cauliflower, and tofu. Otherwise enjoyed as additions to main dishes, these vitamin-dense, low-calorie, and relatively inexpensive ingredients became kitchen stars in their own right as many people kept the healthy eating trend alive in 2021. More households explored the possibility of eating less or no meat while still enjoying the same tastiness of the same dish after tweaking recipes to include this trio of meat replacements.

FITNESS

1. At-home gyms

If people couldn’t go to the gym, they brought the gym to them. Entire rooms were rearranged, renovated, or even built to make space for at-home gyms given that prolonged quarantine living meant that fitness venues couldn’t reopen just yet. In order to maintain their physiques, many individuals took to the Internet to purchase the basics to create their own space for fitness. Think treadmills, dumbbell and barbell sets, parallettes, bench presses, stationary bikes, and rowing machines, too. Even when COVID is successfully controlled (read: when we can return to “normal”), we anticipate home gyms to be a continuing trend as they are generally more hygienic, private, and inexpensive in the long run. 


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2. Body weight strength training

On the other hand, for those that couldn’t afford to invest in at-home gyms or go to gyms, there was a more cost-effective yet comparably efficient alternative: strength training using body weight. This is essentially when all your workouts use your own body weight as resistance against gravity and gym equipment is unnecessary (or, only one or two sets of weights are needed). Don’t underestimate this kind of workout; despite it being simple in terms of equipment or venue needed, body weight training is able to address areas of endurance, speed, flexibility, balance, coordination, and muscle power—ultimately all the skills you would be working on if you had access to a regular gym.


3. Yoga

Yoga came to the rescue of those needing to soothe tired muscles and achy hearts and minds. There’s little to speak of in terms of novelty of this ancient form of exercise, but what’s worth taking note of is the volume of people who ventured into yoga in this year alone. Though it’s not the go-to activity for those who think of exercise as vigorous, intense, and sweaty, eventually, yoga, in its slowness and deliberateness, proved itself to be just as worthy of practicing regularly. After all, as yoga is able to provide a sense of release and comfort that no other forms of exercise can, it was the antidote for so many physical and emotional pains the pandemic has brought with it. 


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APPS AND GEAR 

1. Accessible workout content

Several reports have covered the sharp spike among Internet users when it came to Googling free Internet workouts in the last two years, and for good reason. Many fitness idols decided to make some, if not all, of their workout material accessible to a larger audience as their way of helping out millions of people stuck at home who wanted to stay fit. There are endless regimens and trainers to choose from, many of whom have taken to YouTube (like Joanna Soh or Caroline Girvan) or made otherwise exclusive content on their fitness apps free or discounted. Check out apps like the Nike Training Workout app, Down Dog, Sweat, and Freeletics—and hundreds of others!


2. Wearable fitness tech 

Most people couldn’t accessorize the same way they used to (unless you wore heels at home and did zoom OOTDs), but one function-meets-fashion accessory that got a whole lot of love this year was wearable fitness gear. The FitBit, Apple Watch, and Samsung Galaxy watches were all the rage for all sorts of people because of how multi-functional they were. Most of these brands upgraded their product features while also upping their score in the style department, making fitness watches more appropriate for use outside of the gym. 

3. Resistance bands

When we talk about essential workout gear, what often comes to mind are the more heavy duty items. Resistance bands aren’t usually thought of as must-haves unless you know your way around your fitness regimens, but they’ve recently enjoyed more attention from the casual exerciser. This is mostly because so many Filipinos wished to work out indoors—but didn’t have the storage, floor space, or budget for bulkier equipment. Versatile resistance bands address these concerns while still delivering the same results by effectively working different muscle groups. Plus, different kinds of bands are made for varying levels of fitness, thus making them popular among both novice and experienced individuals. 


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