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Wellness area with loungers

Wellness ( English wellness , well-being 'or' well-being ') is an Anglicism that, according to modern understanding, stands for a holistic health concept and has been the generic term in the USA since 1959 for a health movement that was new at the time.

Term etymology

The word wellness first appeared in a monograph by Sir A. Johnson in 1654 as "... wealnesse" in the Oxford English Dictionary , where it was translated as "good health". In 1959, the developed social medicine Halbert L. Dunn from the words of well-being ( english wellbeing ) and physical performance ( english fitness ) new portmanteau Wellness and laid the foundation for the US wellness movement.

Since the World Health Organization defined health as physical, psychological and social well-being in 1946 , there was an increasing effort to not only focus on the elimination of diseases , but to increase well-being. The wellness lifestyle concept aims at wellbeing, fun and good physical condition. Today, wellness is primarily understood to mean methods and applications that increase physical, mental or emotional well-being . Tourist establishments , hotels , tour operators , swimming pools and spa facilities offer massages , wellness trips and baths under the name “wellness” (see health tourism ).

Wellness is a popular advertising word . However, the term is not legally protected. A wide variety of products, such as mineral water , Indian lassi , socks , teas , muesli , jams and dietary supplements are said to have a health-promoting effect. Occasionally, products with an unproven effect such as earth radiation suppressors, magnetic mattresses or esoteric water treatments are offered under the name wellness . Since the end of the 1990s, more and more quality marks have emerged in wellness tourism in order to counteract the increasing lack of contour of the term. These certificates were initiated by various actors such as the German Wellness Association, hotel cooperations or other tourist actors.

In the 1970s - when health care costs exploded - wellness pioneers Donald B. Ardell and John Travis developed new holistic health models on behalf of the US government that were based on health promotion and individual responsibility for their own health. After understanding Ardell Wellness describes a state of well-being and satisfaction and consists of the factors self responsibility , nutritional awareness , physical fitness, stress management and environmental sensitivity . In line with this holistic approach, wellness can be understood as the harmony of body , mind and soul .

The word wellness was first found in German dictionaries in 1997, where it was defined as “well-being achieved through (light) physical activity”.

Use of the term

Wellness as a passive feeling of wellbeing

When using the word wellness, one can distinguish between everyday language and a scientific view. It can only be ascertained to a limited extent in analyzes of the use of the term health-related. In everyday use, however, wellness is more likely to be equated with a passive form of relaxation and evokes emotional images in people. Wellness is also directly linked to vacation. Consumers tend not to perceive active physical activity as wellness. Colloquially, wellness is primarily understood to mean passive wellness offers that stand for relaxation. The term wellness is applied to the following areas, among others:

This concept of wellness is now also referred to as medical wellness , the basis of which is above all a health-conscious lifestyle in everyday life. Corresponding courses for people with health problems - especially the so-called lifestyle diseases - are offered by many health insurance companies and in health resorts . Under Medical Wellness are beyond holidays with preventive and rehabilitative measures in part to improve, maintain and restore to understand the state of health.

Economical meaning

According to figures from the economic research company Global Insight , the annual turnover of the wellness industry in Germany is estimated at around 73 billion euros. These are estimates of all sales related to the term wellness. These range from lifestyle foods such as low-calorie foods, digestive yogurt products, etc. to fitness studios and stays in spa hotels.


  • Stefanie Duttweiler: Body-Consciousness - Fitness - Wellness - Body technologies as technologies of the self. In: contradictions: self-technologies - technologies of the self. Issue 87, March 2003. (Kleine Verlag)
  • Claudia Freidl: wellness boom. Relaxation or too much of a good thing? VDM Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-936755-94-9 . (sociological study)
  • Harald A. Friedl: Who needs wellness - and why now? About the social background of the wellness boom. In: Integra. Journal for inclusive tourism and development. Issue 4/2006, pp. 6-10.
  • Alma-Elisa Kittner, Jörg Scheller , Ulrike Stoltz (eds.): Softener: Wellness in art and consumption. 3rd edition of the scientific journal Querformat: Contemporary, Art, Popular Culture. transcript, Bielefeld 2010, ISBN 978-3-8376-1579-1 .

Web links

Commons : Wellness  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Knut A. Wiesner, Wellness Management , 2007, p. 17
  2. Wolfgang Nahrstedt, Wellnessbildung , 2008, p. 24
  3. ^ Constitution of the World Health Organization
  4. ^ Arnd Krüger : History of movement therapy , in: Preventive medicine . Heidelberg: Springer Loseblatt Collection 1999, 07.06, 1 - 22.
  5. Katrin Tams, Wellness ABC - information about wellness. Vista-Point-Verlag, Cologne 2012, p. 10.
  6. Monika Rulle / Wolfgang Hoffmann / Karin Kraft: Success strategies in health tourism. Analysis of the expectations and satisfaction of guests. Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin 2010, p. 10.
  7. German wellness certificate with quality seal . Website of the German Wellness Association. Retrieved on November 7th (PDF file; 475 kB), p. 1 f.
  8. IchZeit host ( Memento of 19 August 2014 Internet Archive ). Rhineland-Palatinate Tourism website. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  9. ^ Eveline Lanz Kaufmann: Wellness Tourism. Decision-making bases for investments and quality improvements. Bern 2002, p. 37.
  10. Duden-Redaktion (Ed.), Duden Foreign Dictionary , 1997, p. 853
  11. Peter Aderhold, Die Reiseanalyse RA , short version, FUR, October 2000, p. 124.