- Wellness is vital for post-pandemic recovery in developing Asia.
COVID-19 underlines the importance of wellness, or the deliberate pursuit of activities that bring holistic health, happiness, and well-being. Public health, both physical and mental, has taken a beating during this pandemic. In Asia, as elsewhere, wellness can revive the human body, mind, and spirit, which are the first steps toward rebuilding the economy and society.
- Wellness is a large and growing part of the Asian economy.
Even before COVID-19, Asians demanded more wellness as their incomes rose, chronic lifestyle diseases became more prevalent, and the population aged. A result has been a rapidly growing wellness economy, comprising industries that enable consumers to incorporate wellness activities into their daily lives. The wellness economy provides 11% of output in Asian countries, having grown annually by 10% in recent years. COVID-19 is likely to further boost demand in the coming years and support a strong recovery.
- Asian wellness traditions can serve both well-being and the economy.
Although modern wellness industries originated in Western countries, Asia has a wealth of wellness traditions. Those traditions are productive assets for the wellness economy. At the same time, tapping these traditions can promote mental and physical health in the lives of Asians. As such, the present is the opportune time for Asia to rediscover its wellness roots.
- Wellness polices should be comprehensive and target all Asians.
Government efforts to boost physical and mental well-being fall into four policy domains: create a healthy urban environment, enable and support physical activity, encourage healthy diets, and enhance wellness in the workplace. Because healthy aging begins in childhood, a lifelong wellness policy framework such as Japan’s 100-Year Life Program should complement the four policy domains. And, because the poor have fewer opportunities for wellness activities, governments must invest in wellness infrastructure that benefits them.