Real estate as next frontier of wellness
A global movement for the so-called “wellness lifestyle real estate and communities” is rapidly on the rise.
Because while the last 100 years brought great advances in engineering, sanitation, building safety and city planning, the way homes have been built in the last century is “reinforcing lifestyles that make us sick, stressed, alienated, and unhappy,” said the US-based Global Wellness Institute (GWI).
“Science and technologies have enabled us to control infectious diseases and bring ever greater levels of comfort, conveniences, entertainment and telecommunications into our homes. Yet our modern living environment has also created new health risks—sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical activity, poor diet, stress, social isolation and environmental degradation,” GWI said in a 2018 report entitled “Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate & Communities.”
“The global rise of many respiratory and chronic diseases has been traced directly to pollution. Our built environment favors driving over biking, sitting over walking, riding in elevators over using the stairs, texting over face-to-face conversations, and screen time over outdoor recreation. Even as people live longer, more are living lonely, unhealthy and unhappy lives,” the report further stated.
Next frontier of wellness
GWI said the existing built environment has a massive and increasingly negative impact on wellness, thus highlighting the need for a “dramatic transformation in where and how we live. We must shift our resources and our investments into the places that give us the best returns on our health—that is, our homes and communities.”
“The Global Wellness Institute believes that residential real estate is the next frontier that will be radically transformed by the wellness movement. Our homes, communities and surrounding environment directly affect our daily behaviors and lifestyles, and together these determine up to 80 to 90 percent of our health outcomes. Since our homes are typically our most important personal investment and expenditure, it is only logical that they should also be an investment in our health and wellbeing,” it said.
Today, there is a steadily growing demand for wellness lifestyle real estate and communities as consumers seek out healthy places to live and are willing to pay for a premium.
As wellness lifestyle real estate gains traction, going from niche to mainstream, it will only be a matter of time when building for wellness will soon become the norm, GWI said.
Building for wellness
It will, however, be crucial to ensure that “building for wellness” will be no mere lip service. GWI stressed that rebranding real estate developments as “wellness communities” by highlighting a few features or amenities does not make them so. It is thus critical for the public to know the different aspects crucial to creating a true wellness lifestyle real estate.
GWI defines wellness lifestyle real estate as homes proactively designed and built to support the holistic health of residents. A wellness community, meanwhile, refers to a group of people living in close proximity who share common goals, interests and experiences in proactively pursuing wellness across its many dimensions.
As overall wellness is multi-dimensional and holistic, a home and community should similarly address all dimensions from individual to community. This means that wellness lifestyle real estate and communities must have these aspects: physical; social; mental/emotional/spiritual); environment; community; and economic/financial.
According to GWI, physical wellness is fostered if design features can enhance residents’ physical health and encourage physical activity. These include having fitness facilities, walking trails, parks and playgrounds, circadian lighting, thermal comfort and air circulation.
Environmental wellness is enhanced if materials, design, and construction is non-toxic, renewable, energy efficient, among others. The community also encourages residents to adopt sustainable, regenerative lifestyles, supporting behaviors like recycling, natural resource conservation, preservation of green space and animal habitats.
Social wellness is reinforced through provision of common spaces and amenities that facilitate connections with family, friends and neighbors, whereas community wellness is enhanced when the development inspires residents to engage with and care about the wider community and people outside their immediate social spheres.
Mental, emotional and spiritual wellness is considered when the amenities, design and services encourage connection with nature and animals, with culture and traditions, with beauty, and with a greater purpose. The design should also provide space and support for rest and solace, encourage residents to pursue personal hobbies, interests and spiritual practices, among others.
Economic wellness is enhanced when the community enables residents to conduct their activities, such as work, school, shopping and recreation within a short distance and with different transport options.
Even medical experts agree that structures and the built environment can have a significant impact on one’s health.
Medical expert and Inquirer columnist Dr. Rafael Castillo noted that living conditions can “very much” affect one’s quality of life and overall wellbeing.
“There’s such an entity called sick house or sick building syndrome which can actually make residents get sick or feel unwell,” he said. “Symptoms of sick building syndrome (include) getting tired easily; poor sleep; eye, nose and throat irritation resulting in frequent coughs and colds and sore throat; skin problems; asthma-like symptoms; and irritability.”
To ensure residents’ well-being, Dr. Castillo recommends communities that offer optimal ventilation and light source; more greens (plants and trees); exercise areas; and walking paths, as well as developments that ensure to use less harmful or toxic chemicals in treatments of building or ground, such as in the case of pest treatments.
First wellness real estate in PH
Fortunately, there are local real estate developers who are well aware of this growing need among homebuyers today and are, more importantly, addressing it through their innovations in their respective projects.
Seasoned developer Ortigas & Co., for example, is building the 56-storey Empress, the newest residential project that will soon rise within the 10-ha Capitol Commons in Pasig City. This project places a premium on the residents’ wellness by ensuring that its facilities and amenities will enable them to live a holistic and well-balanced lifestyle—hence, its tagline: live, breathe and take it easy.
Empress, touted as the first wellness real estate in the Philippines, brings that exceptional opportunity that will allow its residents to achieve a sustainable, balanced living. It also offers a new perspective for those living in vertical homes, redefining one’s living experience with a unique proposition that centers primarily on wellness.
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