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The Friday Five

Top Health and Wellness Trends for 2021

By Jamie Spannhake

According to the annual Mindbody Wellness Index, more than 40% of Americans say the pandemic has negatively affected their physical health, and 53% say it has negatively affected their mental well-being. With this in mind, we wanted to know what health and wellness trends we can expect to see in 2021. What can we expect to help us feel better, mentally and physically, in the coming months?

Five Health and Wellness Trends to Try

Here are five health and wellness trends to look for this year and in the future — even when this pandemic is (finally) over.

1. Virtual Workouts

As the pandemic closed gyms and yoga studios, lawyers began looking for ways to continue their workouts. Working out has been crucial for staying fit, but also to help us destress and maintain the energy required to juggle responsibilities competing for the same time and, suddenly, the same physical space. Many of us turned to virtual workouts we could do at home. According to MindBody Wellness research, more than one-third of Americans joined a weekly livestream workout, and about 40% worked out with a pre-recorded session in 2020.

After a year of virtual workouts, we have changed our fitness habits and are comfortable with our virtual workouts. Some of us have even bought gym-quality equipment.

In 2021, expect improved on-demand libraries of classes and more livestreaming sessions, some with social features. These new social features address the lack of community and connection that in-person workouts provide. For example, Peloton has created the ability to compete with other participants during both live and recorded sessions.

Also expect improvements to responsive workout platforms and equipment that adjust your workout to your abilities, much like an in-person trainer would do. For instance:

  • Apple Fitness+ makes workout recommendations based on your prior workout and real-time adjustments during your workout.
  • Tonal’s A.I. adapts to your strength and dynamically adjusts exercises and weight during your workout.
  • Nike is improving guided runs to allow for metric customization for each run.

2. Shorter and More Creative Workouts

Pre-pandemic, we might spend an hour at the gym or in a fitness class. During the shutdown, as our lives became compressed in space, we began grabbing snippets of time for workouts whenever we could. Now we are mostly working out in 30-minutes or less per session. This has actually increased our fitness because we are more likely to work out when we don’t need to commit to a longer block of time. In other words, we are working out more often because we can fit in time for workouts more easily than in the past. Now that we have experience staying or getting fit in less time on more days, this trend is likely to stay.

We’ve also gotten more creative about what qualifies as a workout. In the past, long walks, playing badminton in the backyard or hiking through the woods might have been considered leisure activities. Since we were forced outside to connect with others, we have incorporated these types of leisure activities into our fitness routines. Because these activities are good for our mental and physical health — and they allow us to connect and have fun — they are here to stay in 2021 and beyond.

3. Digital Detoxes

We have spent an entire year using our digital devices more than ever before. Which is a lot. Our devices — phones, tablets, computers, streaming services — have provided us with information, work, education and connection. For that, we are grateful. But they have also inundated us with negative news, information overload, and a sense of disconnection from those in our surroundings. I mean, has anyone else spent an entire day at home with their family, yet everyone is on their own device, earbuds in, on separate Zoom calls and no one is interacting with each other?

A wellness trend for 2021 is taking time for a digital detox. Whether it is a day, a week or more, living without our devices is a great way to reset, restore and rejuvenate. Instead of engaging in social media, email, news watching, podcasts and the like, we can take time for self-care, spend time in nature, read or work on creative projects like painting, writing or crafting.

4. Making Mental Health Practices a Priority

One thing this pandemic has made clear is the importance of our mental health, and ensuring we take time to engage in practices that keep us emotionally and mentally fit — a kind of mental fitness. And like physical fitness, expect mental fitness to become a part of our regular routines in 2021. Because the legal profession has some of the highest numbers of depression and anxiety among all industries, law firms and companies are normalizing the issue of mental well-being and offering regular resources to lawyers, business professionals and employees.

For example, many firms and bar associations have ramped up their virtual programming to address wellness and mental health. In addition, some firms, including Winston & Strawn, have provided employees with meditation and wellness apps such as Calm at no cost. Meditation, mindfulness and other mental health practices have been trending over the past several years, and we can expect that trend to increase in 2021 and beyond.

5. Building Virtual Communities and Connection

This pandemic has shown us that we need social connection and community for our mental well-being and that caring for others in our community is an important part of that connection. Research shows that buying things for others creates more feelings of happiness than buying things for ourselves. This is part of what is known as “community care,” which means connecting with others to support each other. In 2020, we spent a lot of time connecting and building communities virtually. Zoom grew by 355% and sees nearly 3 million participants daily. We aren’t just “Zooming” for work, though, we are hosting events, coffee and cocktail hours, birthday parties, school plays and even weddings on video platforms.

Meetup has seen similar growth by hosting virtual events to allow like-minded people to connect.

And don’t expect these kinds of virtual connections and platforms to disappear when we are able to meet in person again. Rather, they will continue to supplement in-person connections and remain a tool people use to connect, especially for connections that would not otherwise be possible due to geographic distance, time constraints or cost.

Expect this trend toward virtual communities to remain active throughout the year and well beyond.

More From Attorney at Work:

Have You Read Jamie Spannhake’s Bestselling Book?

The Lawyer, the Lion, and the Laundry Book CoverFind Your Calm in the Chaos

In “The Lawyer, the Lion, and the Laundry: Three Hours to Finding Your Calm in the Chaos,” lawyer and certified health coach Jamie Spannhake helps you learn how to CHOOSE, ACT and THINK in ways that will clarify your desires and set priorities so you can reclaim your time and enjoy your life.

Available in the Attorney at Work bookstore, here. 

Categories: Fit Five, Friday Five, Lawyer Health, Well-Being
Originally published April 23, 2021
Last updated May 10, 2021
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Jamie Spannhake Jamie Spannhake

Jamie Jackson Spannhake is a writer, coach for lawyers, and speaker. She helps busy lawyers create lives they truly want, lives with time and space to do all the things she was told she couldn’t do as a successful lawyer. Her work with clients is based upon the principles in her book, “The Lawyer, the Lion, & the Laundry.” She spent nearly 20 years practicing law in New York and Connecticut, in BigLaw, as a solo, and as a partner in a small firm. Learn more about her at, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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