Generation Z: The Health Generation? Can Young Adults Outshine Their Parents with Good Habits?

Generation Z, typically defined as those born after 1995, is often criticized for being reckless, unstable, and having unrealistic demands. However, this harsh assessment might stem from a misunderstanding of how young adults take care of themselves. While Millennials might work themselves to exhaustion, their younger counterparts know how to set boundaries and distinguish between work and personal life. Could it be that they also approach their health with greater care?

Developing healthy habits in daily routines is notoriously challenging. It requires a high level of self-awareness and motivation. Millennials, now entering midlife crises, often grapple with the health consequences of their earlier perfectionism. They strive to make changes, which demands significant effort. In contrast, Generation Z seems to behave as if health consciousness is ingrained in their genes.

Difficult Beginnings of Good Habits

The primary health issues faced by global society today are those related to poor lifestyle choices. Stress, improper nutrition, and the myriad of carcinogenic and mutagenic factors we encounter daily are causes of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer. The majority of these conditions are preventable, and prevention is a key factor in significantly reducing the incidence of many diseases.

One way to avoid these problems is through healthy habits – small elements of daily routines that, over the long term, form a crucial foundation that effectively neutralizes the harmful effects on our bodies. These include obvious examples such as avoiding substances like alcohol, nicotine, and refined sugar.

Despite widespread knowledge and countless scientific studies confirming health-promoting claims, lifestyle diseases still cause a significant number of premature deaths. Health promotion based on disseminating information and highlighting consequences often falls short. Meanwhile, fashion seems to be a more effective tool in this area.

Gen Z and Health: Healthier Than Ever Before?

The global coronavirus pandemic marked the most significant shift in societal perceptions of health. Intense discussions ensued about hygiene, vaccinations, prevention, and protecting the elderly and vulnerable. This spurred many organizations to research how health is valued and the behaviors that promote its preservation. In 2021, Linus, a non-profit organization dedicated to health promotion, conducted a study on Generation Z (then aged 18-24). Through Zoom, 1200 respondents shared their views on health and well-being. A key finding was that 70% of Generation Z rated their health as good, and the pandemic did not significantly affect their physical or mental well-being. 

Additionally, young adults strongly emphasized that emotional balance is a vital component of their identity and an integral part of their overall well-being. Time and money spent on health prevention, as well as devices monitoring basic physical parameters like heart rate, are given to young adults who have been unfairly labeled as “irresponsible.” Is such a label not unjust for a generation striving more than any before to maintain robust health?

Gen Z and health: man on a bike in the orchard
Gen Z and health: here’s a generation that wants to maintain robust health. Photo: Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio

The Health Trend

Public health experts often refer to Generation Z as “Gen Well,” reflecting the psychological profile of these young adults. According to the concept, four forces are driving this “health generation”:

  1. Resilience. This refers to the level of adaptability, meaning the psychological resources that allow them to maintain high resilience to changes requiring adjustment, as well as the potential to cope with health challenges.
  2. Speculation. Generation Z persistently explores the world of knowledge to obtain verified information about health, rigorously debunking falsehoods and half-truths through fact-checking.
  3. Interdependence. Interdependence refers to a lifestyle where everything post-Millennials do – relationships, habits, use of technology – is tightly integrated as a cohesive whole aimed at maintaining good health.
  4. Haptics. Haptics describes the blending of different realities: the physical and the online. This blending, however, does not signify confusion in these interdependencies but rather explains the ease with which Generation Z switches between virtual and physical realities without discomfort. Moreover, most representatives of Generation Z believe that virtual relationships are as fulfilling as in-person ones.

Health of Body, Health of Soul

A generation for whom the subjective sense of good health is extremely important also recognizes the impact of mental state on overall well-being. When asked by Linus organization researchers, “Which of the following aspects of health concerns you the most over the next five years?” the areas of health typically defined as lifestyle diseases did not constitute the primary concern for the majority of respondents. The most frequently cited concern (54%) was remaining in an emotional or mental crisis, such as depression. Interestingly, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and cancer were cited by only 20%, 26%, and 27% of respondents, respectively.

These findings were confirmed by responses to the question, “Have you consulted a specialist for any of the following issues in the past year?” More respondents indicated having sought diagnostics for emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety (35%) than for less serious illnesses like the common cold or flu (30%).

We recommend: Generation Z: A “Calm” Cohort?

Taking Care of Yourself and Talking About Health

While Millennials are taught to persevere in pursuit of their goals, creating a culture in organizations like corporations that emphasize a work-centric ethos, Generation Z is learning how to best take care of themselves. According to Linus’ research, to achieve psychophysical balance, young adults most frequently adopted strategies involving changes in sleep hygiene habits (52%). They also often chose physical exercise (44%), developed new hobbies (41%), and engaged in meditation or prayer (29%).

The respondents’ answers debunked the unfounded myth that young people want to handle everything online, supposedly indicating a reluctance for personal contact. 66% of Generation Z still prefers in-person healthcare. Before opting for teleconsultation, they seek advice in pharmacies (53%) or emergency departments (39%). Another important finding was that young adults spend more money on preventive health measures (56%) than on current interventions related to illness (44%).

Gen Z and Health: A Vision for the Future

What will the future of healthcare look like? The strategies developed by Generation Z will undoubtedly shape future generations, who will find ways to achieve overall well-being. Today, young adults, who are gradually taking control of the world, leave us with a brief guide consisting of four pillars:

  • Do not fear online relationships; they can be as stable as in-person ones.
  • Cultivate relationships with others.
  • Incorporate health discussions into your daily agenda.
  • Be trustworthy – authenticity is key; no thanks to hypocrites.

Perhaps it is worth testing these proposals? After all, parents can learn from their children.

Translation: Klaudia Tarasiewicz

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Published by

Krzysztof Zaniewski


A careful observer of reality, a musician, who likes philosophical considerations as a hobby, and professionally works therapeutically with children and youth, from whom he draws inspiration and positive energy. The proud owner of the dog Isolde, who is an example of unconditional love. A passionate admirer of Richard Wagner.

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