Youth may be wasted on the young, but when it comes to taking control of their health and well-being, Millennials are pretty much kicking older generations’ saggy-old butts. That’s because, unlike Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials have a decidedly different take on what wellness means to them and how they’re living their best lives.
Thanks to technology, which has enabled greater access to health-related information as well as put personal health monitoring into the palms of everyone’s hands, consumers know more about their own states of well-being than ever before. Millennials, however, have filtered all of this health information and data through the lens of their demanding and savvy worldview, affecting the ways that they perceive and deal with their own well-being.
Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness recently published a handy infographic to help make sense of the generational alphabet soup surrounding health and wellness. The chart provides a glimpse into what characterizes different generations’ perceptions of health and wellness and sheds light on key differentiating values that drive conversations about health and wellness for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Z.
Here are five things about health and wellness that are unique to Millennials and their cohorts:
1. Millennials think of health as a lifestyle pursuit.
Unlike Boomers, who view health as an imperative to be addressed before it’s too late or Gen Xers, who see health as what individuals make of it, Millennials think of health as an overall lifestyle pursuit—in the context of their holistic well-being—rather than simply as tasks to perform toward being healthy. According to Robyn Doane, senior social strategist at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, Millennials are accustomed to easy access to healthier food options, even when they’re eating fast food. “Kale and quinoa have obviously been around for a very long time,” said Doane. “But when these ingredients are readily available just about everywhere these days, they’re not just trendy, they’ve become regular parts of our diets.”
2. Millennials consider fitness as a collaborative endeavor.
Rather than hitting the gym to do solo workouts among a bunch of strangers, Doane said Millennials are motivated by sharing their fitness goals and routines. Whether it’s going to Soul Cycle or yoga with a group of friends or challenging buddies to see who can accumulate the highest number of steps tracked on their Fitbits, Millennials want to collaborate and co-create with their colleagues, even when it comes to their fitness regimens. “Health is intertwined with other parts of our lives, including our social lives,” said Doane. “We’re not necessarily thinking that we need to be healthy for the future, it’s more like working out is a fun and collaborative thing to do with our friends.”
3. Millennials are tuned into workplace and government policies that impact their health.
Whether it’s taking advantage of their workplaces’ healthcare benefits and gym membership subsidies or keeping tabs on political issues related to healthcare, Millennials are tuned into the policies that have direct impacts on their access (or lack thereof) to affordable and quality healthcare and wellness options. “Millennials grew up hearing about affordable healthcare, it’s been a major topic of discussion for the past decade or so,” said Doane. “And for many Millennials who are getting off of their parents’ insurance plans for the first time, they now have to seriously think about their own healthcare.”
4. Millennials aren’t shy about pushing back on healthcare brands and providers.
Millennials are taking control of their health by pushing back on brands and providers of health and wellness products and services in similar ways that the generation is so vocal and fearless about telling non-health brands what they want. “Instead of blindly accepting what health brands and providers say they can do for us, we’re telling them what we want and how they need to change to meet our needs,” said Doane. “Because of our easy access to information, we expect and are prepared to take control.”
5. Millennials are more positive about the future of healthcare than other generations.
However, Millennials aren’t relying solely on the messages of marketers or advice of healthcare providers. Supported by technologies that have transformed the ways that everybody accesses and uses health and wellness-related information and tools, Millennials understand that with great power comes even greater personal responsibility. “The doctor isn’t the only one with an opinion anymore,” said Doane. “As a Millennial, I know that I also can have an opinion about my own healthcare.”
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Sept. 23, 2016, in Engage:Millennials.