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Healthy Spa Trends For 2012

Posted: 01/22/2012 11:12 am

Sinking into that plush pedicure chair isn't only relaxing -- it's good for you! Healthy spa treatments ranging from exfoliating facials to deep-tissue massages have been linked with big benefits such as improving immunity, easing chronic pain and soothing depression and anxiety.

"Going to a spa is a way of getting taken care of that is psychologically and culturally acceptable -- and we can carry that feeling of being cared for with us for a period of time, and very often that can help us cope better with stress," NYU professor of psychiatry Virginia Sadock, M.D. told WebMD.

But here at Healthy Living we know not every spa treatment is created equal. Notorious beauty treatments like ear candles or Brazilian blowouts can turn dangerous. Which is why we were pleased to see that seven of SpaFinder.com's recently-released predictions for spa trends in the new year put your health at the forefront. Click through the slideshow below to see the predictions, and visit SpaFinder.com for the full list.

For more on beauty and skin, click here.

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  • Family Fun

    In 2008, the International Spa Association reported that <a href="http://www.experienceispa.com/articles/index.cfm?action=view&articleID=16&sectionID=4" target="_hplink">four million teens have been to a spa</a>, and that 17 percent of spas offer exercise programs for kids and teens. That number will only continue to grow, SpaFinder.com predicts. But before you denounce the necessity of a pedicure for a seven year old, consider the educational value: Over half of all spas offer <a href="http://www.experienceispa.com/articles/index.cfm?action=view&articleID=16&sectionID=4" target="_hplink">educational sessions</a> on topics ranging from nutrition to cooking to fitness, and could help in the fight against childhood obesity.

  • Long-Term Accountability

    Support can be hard to come by for the spa-goer looking to learn something long-lasting about nutrition or exercise or stress relief. As a result, more guidance for those newly-learned lessons may be implemented in 2012. The healthy habits learned at a spa or resort can be hard to stick to after leaving that nurturing environment, which is why SpaFinder.com predicts more will offer coaching to help guests make healthy changes that last. Some, like Canyon Ranch, even offer <a href="http://www.canyonranch.com/connection/volume_29/issue_3/display/#/connection/volume_29/issue_3/display/on_track/" target="_hplink">follow-up coaching over the phone</a>.

  • Feet First

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/high-heels-bad-for-your-feet_n_1030737.html" target="_hplink">High heels hurt</a> -- but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll stop wearing them. Spas know that too, and to care for your tired dogs they're focusing more treatments on preventing injuries and easing pain, according to SpaFinder.com, ranging from "gait analysis" to muscle-strengthening to pedicures overseen by podiatrists. Often called <a href="http://www.allure.com/beauty-trends/blogs/daily-beauty-reporter/2011/11/i-had-a-medical-pedicureand-post-op-my-feet-are-extra-smooth.html" target="_hplink">"medical pedicures"</a> or "medicures", these toe treatments are now often performed by a foot doctor, thereby guaranteeing <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/04/fashion/thursdaystyles/04skin.html" target="_hplink">safer removal of calluses and corns</a>.

  • Chill Out

    Many spa-goers are used to retreating to the sauna or steam room to "sweat it out," but in 2012 it's time to cool off, literally. Cold treatments like ice rubdowns, snow showers and even cryotherapy chambers are becoming more common, according to SpaFinder.com and can reduce inflammation and improve circulation. Plus, summer spa vacationers in particular will get a <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=7625129" target="_hplink">boost to their spirits</a> as they escape the heat, reports ABC. Take a bit of the cold trend home with you and try this ice massage tip from <em>Running Times</em>: <a href="http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=3853" target="_hplink">Freeze a small paper cup of water</a>, then rub the ice over a painful spot (like shin splints).

  • Virtual Reality

    Over and over again, research shows that your social networks -- virtual and offline -- <a href="http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/social-networks-can-affect-weight-happiness-201112163983" target="_hplink">influence your health and happiness</a>. In the wake of these groundbreaking studies, healthy living niches have cropped up all over the Web, from social media initiatives like <a href="http://tweetwhatyoueat.com/" target="_hplink">Tweet What You Eat</a> to recipe blogs to <a href="http://www.meetup.com/" target="_hplink">Meetups</a> for finding a fitness partner for just about any kind of exercise activity you can think of. In 2012, spa living will branch out virtually too, SpaFinder.com predicts. Integrative medicine guru and HuffPost blogger <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra" target="_hplink">Deepak Chopra</a> entered this space early-on with the meditation game Leela, and Clarins has now created a beauty game called "Spa Life" for Facebook. Expect programs like these to support a spa-goer's newly-formed healthy habits after returning home.

  • All Senses Go

    Soothing music and low lights aren't just aesthetic finishing touches at spas and resorts. <a href="http://www.niam.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18&Itemid=22" target="_hplink">Ayurvedic medicine</a> has incorporated color, rhythm and certain scents into spa treatments for thousands of years. In 2012, SpaFinder.com predicts more spas will pick up on these ancient practices and give them a modern spin in saunas, steam baths, tubs, massage tables and even lounge chairs, like the one picture here.

  • Scientific Scrutiny

    Although treatments like acupuncture and massage are increasingly more commonplace in traditional medical practices, there isn't always a large <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/21/acupuncture-safe-children_n_1102024.html" target="_hplink">body of evidence</a> backing up what are often considered "alternative" treatments. But many people -- spa-goers or not -- are examining things like reflexology and aromatherapy under a narrower lens, according to SpaFinder.com, which is why sites like <a href="http://www.spaevidence.com/spaevidence" target="_hplink">SpaEvidence.com</a> will become more heavily relied upon in 2012. There you'll find a one-stop hub for the science behind various treatments, information that will be used by both traditional medical professionals to add services to their practices and by spas and resorts to lend credibility to their offerings, SpaFinder.com predicts.

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Filed by Sarah Klein  |