The everlasting health
Last Saturday morning in Stockholm, I was waiting with other 20 000 participants for marathon to begin. On the surface, it seemed as if we had all the same goal of running through 42km stretch of asphalt pathway. As I observed the other people excitedly waiting for a pistol bang to shoot of to the track, I suddenly realized that each of us had their very own motives to be here. And these motives, extending from proving to yourself that you can do it to having it as one of the 20 marathons you run this year, were all backed by months of preparation: pushing you to have another jog when you really just wanted to lay on your sofa. Planning your week so that you will have sufficient time to do your 30-50 km or whatever of exercise.
I think what really united us was our concern for maintaining and improving health. Of course, heading for Marathon is just one way of trying to make it. Alternatively you can climb a mountain (in the picture I am at the top of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain). Or you just walk every day to your nearest park or forest. The point is: I need to act on my health. I need to do something something that keeps me fit and helps me to be at home with my body.
While working in German insurance giant Allianz I was often quite baffled by peoples diets. Our employer had done a great deal to provide healthy and nutritious food: lot of salads and vegetables in various forms, organic if possible. Yet I saw very few to actually take full benefit of these opportunities: plates were filled with meat and potatoes mostly. There are cruel facts to back up my observation: in Germany only, half of the population over 20 years of age are overweight. This is a shocking number if you take into account all the health information we have. Everybody should know the basic fact: if you constantly eat more than you consume, you gain weight. Simple as that.
In tech-world, health is becoming a hot topic. Silicon Valley is now buzzing with new health business initiatives. Many of them are clever services sprouting around the idea how to help people to eat healthily at home, like Munchery Apple, being rather late this time, announced just days ago their new healthkit app, trying to turn smart phone into health phone. Here in Helsinki, GE is building a new center on their premises for health orientated start-ups. Close to 20 small start-ups will soon start working together to create new masterpieces for health markets.
And why not: years back I was involved with a study that clearly showed that you have in equation demographic transition (aging, longevity), value shift towards self-realization and self-care, growing amount of dispensable money and highly undeveloped markets what you get is a big opportunity. I would be totally surprised if by 2025 health business is not the largest business in the world.
In my framework of how societies are moving into next socio-economic-cultural-technological wave, demographic change as a megatrend and emerging new health services as an innovation platform form an essential part of my view of what is to come. We simply cannot understand the current shift without considering how these developments make our world anew.
And this is particularly because there is really so much to the health. Taking human perspective, it is really about the awareness. Are you aware of what you eat, are you aware if you move and stretch your body enough every day? Do you really take care of yourself, and not just use your body? Do you feed your soul by leaving sometimes your smart phone behind and focus on trees and flowers in your garden or park?
As people in Antic already knew, a healthy soul can only dwell in the healthy body. I have heard the estimate that up to 80% of our illnesses are of mental origin. In today's world, where stresses of different kind haunt us, we should consider this wisdom more than ever. Continuously high stress-levels will inevitably cause you illnesses. You need to have your methods of how to consciously lower your stress-level, otherwise your health is not going to last.
Jogging in nature is a wonderful way to take care both of your physics and soul. Brisk walk or cycling or almost whatever would do the same. And when you know why you are doing it, it gives an additional flair to the whole thing.
Which brings me back to Marathon start last Saturday in Stockholm. The point is that every one of those 20 thousand people had their own idea of how running 42km of hard asphalt (too hard for me, I found at the end) will enhance their health. In the end, it doesn't really matter what you do. Just do something that makes sense and helps to bring experience of health in your life. To build everlasting health, even if nothing last forever.