The Top 10 Fitness Trends of 2019
Thursday, November 08, 2018. Author Dr. Haran Sivapalan
Thursday, November 08, 2018. Author Dr. Haran Sivapalan
Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine surveys thousands of experts to garner their opinion on what will be the top upcoming trends in health and fitness. By ‘trend’, we mean a general change in fitness activities that people adopt. This is in stark contrast to a ‘fad,’ which is more of a fashion that is taken up fervently but only for a short time e.g. Shake Weights or 8 Minute Abs.
Over 2,000 personal trainers, sports medicine professionals and academics from across the world gave their forecast on the top trends of 2019.
Let’s take a look at the top 10.
Wearable technology, which includes gadgets such as FitBits, activity trackers, smart watches and heart rate monitors, topped this year’s list. On last year’s list, it ranked third. The benefit of this technology is that it allows you to easily log, monitor, plan and respond to your training. A good example is how, by monitoring your pulse rate, smart watches enable you to train in different heart rate zones, allowing you to more effectively target various facets of fitness, such as lactate threshold or fat-burning.
Retaining position 2 for the second year running is group training. Group training includes a wide variety of activities such as spinning classes, aerobics, step and dance classes. The thing which unites these activities is that they involve groups of 5 of more participants and a group instructor. The social benefits of exercising with others, coupled with the motivational nature of many classes, are key components of group training’s continued popularity.
Last year’s number one trend, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), has dropped two places, but still remains in the Top 5. HIIT, which involves short spurts of high effort exercise (often at 90% of maximum intensity) punctuated by recovery periods, is well demonstrated to enhance fat loss, increase VO2 max and improve control of blood sugar levels.
HIIT also burns more calories compared to continuous, steady-state exercise, partly due to increased Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Sometimes known as ‘afterburn’, EPOC refers to the expenditure of calories for recovery and repair in the 24 hours after an intense exercise session.
Exercise isn’t just for young, athletic people in their prime. It’s important to keep fit throughout the entirety of your life. Studies show that regular exercise can prevent many conditions associated with older age, with physical activity linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and dementia. Strength training also lowers the risk of age-related muscle loss (called sarcopenia), improves balance and reduces the risk of falls.
Given these benefits, it’s great news that fitness programs specifically directed at Baby Boomers and older generations are becoming more popular. Higher life expectancy, the desire to remain active for longer and more disposable income are all thought to be contributing factors to this growing trend.
Bodyweight training slips one place but remains in the top 5 forecast trends. Bodyweight exercises are exactly what they say on the tin – exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats that use your body’s weight as resistance. Such exercises carry the advantage of being simple to perform, without the need for a gym or access to free weights and other special equipment. If access to gym equipment is difficult for you, our Get Fit Plan has the option of bodyweight-only workouts.
Experts felt that the need for formal accreditation and certification within the health and fitness industry is very important. In a field where misinformation abounds and the risk of harming rather improving physical health is very real (e.g. injuries caused by incorrect lifting techniques, scientifically unsound nutrition advice), the benefits of regulated certification programs has obvious appeal.
Yoga remains in the same position as last year. The last decade has witnessed an increase in the different types of yoga on offer. Some forms, such as Hatha yoga, tend to be gentler, whereas others e.g. Vinyasa flow, tend to be more dynamic. There’s also hot yoga and Bikram yoga, both of which are performed in heated environments and are designed to make you sweat. In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, there’s evidence that the spiritual and meditative aspects of yoga can help relieve stress, improve sleep and aid mental health.
Personal trainers have always been and continue to be a valuable asset to help you achieve your fitness goals. They’re also increasingly accessible, with more personal trainers available online, in homes and at workplaces. As a FitnessGenes customer, you can easily print off your Personal Insight summary or directly share your DNA results with your PT, allowing them to tweak your workouts in line with your genes.
Functional fitness training involves exercises and movements designed to mimic and improve those used in everyday activities. For example, practising squats allows someone to better stand-up after being seated or pick up objects from the floor. Functional Fitness training can also be adapted for people with certain disabilities. It moves up from 10th position on last year's survey.
Although magic bullets don’t exist, exercise is a pretty strong contender as far as reducing health risks is concerned. The Exercise is Medicine scheme is a global initiative that compels GPs and primary healthcare professionals to prescribe exercise in treatment plans and to refer patients on to qualified exercise professionals. The potential benefits of such a system are clear. Consider the example of an overweight person. Passive advice from a healthcare professional along the lines of "eat healthier and exercise more" is not particularly useful. If anything, it raises further questions. How do I exercise more? What sort of exercise should I do? What facilities are there in my area? How do I progress my training to sustain weight loss into the future? By referring such cases to a qualified personal trainer, sports therapist or a local exercise group, more people are likely to engage with and reap the benefits of exercise.
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