Health is everywhere, where we live, work, play, pray and shop. So while I’m in Chicago staying off The Magnificent Mile in The Windy City, I took a several-thousand step walk along this shopping mecca and found health and wellness in the form of wearable technology, fitness, smart homes and the Internet of Things spanning the eastern end of Michigan Avenue to the western Gold Coast lakefront.
Here’s a photo of the Garmin store, whose windows feature wearable tracking device promotions and devices. It was surprising to see Garmin investing in this expensive piece of real estate, with its logo name in large font on the side of the building at Michigan and Erie. Garmin, well-known for its GPS technology, is a top brand of wearable fitness trackers.
Further up Michigan Avenue is the Under Armour store. The company is growing its health data ecosystem through its acquisition of Endomondo, MapMyRun and MyFitnessPal, and boasts 140 million users across these mobile apps. Watch for Under Armour to morph from a strictly sports gear-and-textile company toward a broader health data-and-coaching mission.
You’ll find AT&T flagship store on Michigan Avenue that features smart and connected home devices and apps in the growing era of the Internet of Things for health. There’s a connected car, smart medical devices, and of course a myriad of smartphones onto which mobile health apps can be downloaded to help users manage diet, exercise, mood, sleep, and healthcare conditions.
One of the most mature health/athletic brands is Nike, whose “swoosh” icon towers high on its storefront on Michigan Avenue. Nike continues to be a leading force in fitness design, most recently launching the KD8 basketball shoe that’s been described like a “seatbelt for your foot.” Tech-infused athletic shoes were one of the original “wearables,” and Nike’s been a leader in bringing bling to well-designed footwear.
There’s also a wonderful campaign throughout Chicago of artfully painted horses in support of the Chicago Police. While I loved the horse sponsored by the rock group Chicago (“the band so great they named a city after it,” their mantra goes), my favorite in my own health-is-everywhere mantra was this one, brought to the Avenue from Assurance. This is a health-messaging horse, communicating the value of “minimizing risk, maximizing health.” This campaign is happening right on the streets where thousands of people walk, shop, and meet up every day, communicated in an artful and fun way.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Among the city’s many attractions, there’s one on which every visitor and resident can agree: Chicago’s got great food, some of the best in the world. There’s a whole Michelin map full of multi-starred joints, from barbeque to haute cuisine.
My pick this trip is Eataly, the successful joint venture of Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, two of my favorite foodie influences in my own home where Italian food meets up with the locavore passion. At Eataly, you’ll find products curated by Mario and Lidia and their experienced team, from wine from small Italian vineyards and olive oils from small producers, pastas the likes of which you have never seen in even the finest grocers in the U.S., and eat-in or take-out delights — rotisserie-roasted meats and poultry (yesterday was porchetta available by the pound or in a panini), cured meats, hundreds of artisanal cheeses, store-made mozzarella, and gelato (which had a long line of patient sweet-seekers).
Activity tracking and exercise is one part of a healthy lifestyle equation. The yang to that yin is healthy eating, and Eataly’s got my vote for the right approach to a rich healthy life: “Eat Better, Live Better.” Now – go walk, eat, and live well! It’s the weekend…
…and a postscript. I’m waiting at O’Hare Airport to catch a plane up to the Upper Peninsula of my home state of Michigan, to our nephew’s wedding. And here’s another example of “health everywhere,” an urgent care clinic run by the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System right across from Gate F3 in Terminal 2.