Building skills for lifelong wellness: An empirical study on the wellness-oriented lifestyle

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Over the past decade, the concept of wellness, defined here as a holistic perspective on an individual’s well-being and self-care, has gained prominence in social debates and consumer culture, especially among affluent societies. At the discursive level, wellness emphasizes an individual’s own efforts and (consumer) choices for increased health, well-being, and personal satisfaction in different life domains. This dissertation examines different manifestations of the wellness phenomenon, with a particular focus on the experiences of middle-aged and older adults. The research engages with sociological discussions on well-being, aging, and consumption, which are complemented with wellness-related insights from leisure and tourism research. The research builds on three articles with separate quantitative or qualitative data sets that explore the wellness-related attitudes and lifestyles of the participants. The results link the rise of the wellness phenomenon to broader societal changes, including medical and technological advancements, improved living standards, consumerism, longevity, and increased individualism, which have had an impact on how people currently plan and construct their lives and lifestyles. The findings indicate that the attitudes regarding personal well-being and self-care have generally become more wellness-oriented. The research also states that an individual‘s skills in relation to holistic self-care are highlighted in social debate. The meaningfulness of wellness consumption is linked to people’s quest for a balanced lifestyle that brings a sense of manageability and contributes to both personal and societal wellness. The popularity of wellness consumption among aging consumers is not explained only by biological aging but also by the social and cultural framework within which the aging self is managed. While middle-aged participants contemplate wellness and related consumption from the perspective of an “active third age,” older adults emphasize a wellness-oriented lifestyle as a justified solution for “aging well.” The growing interest in immaterial and experiential consumption and more personalized and alternative options for self-care provide a framework for the business of wellness to flourish. The research argues that wellness is a general direction of development in society that influences health and well-being markets, with multiple social impacts that should be critically examined. [showless]
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Jyväskylä
  • Wilska, Terhi-Anna, Supervisor, External person
  • Ylilahti, Minna, Supervisor, External person
Place of PublicationJyväskylä
Electronic ISBNs978-951-39-8216-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 5141 Sociology
  • wellness
  • aging
  • wellness consumption
  • self-care
  • wellness skills

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