With over 55 years of combined clinical experience, all of our therapists are equipped, fully qualified and registered with state regulatory bodies.

February 07, 2016

Health and Fitness Trends of 2016

Looking at current trends in health I came across an interesting definition of the difference between a fad and a trend:

Trend: “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving” (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/).

Fad: “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period” (http://dictionary.reference.com/).

An American run survey of international health and fitness professionals predicts that Wearable Technology will be the top trend of 2016. What are the trends? If you’re looking for a broad overview of what’s available to improve your fitness, or are interested in the world of fitness, read on.

1. Wearable technology. Introduced just a few years ago, wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices. Examples include fitness and activity trackers like those from Misfit, Garmin, Jawbone, and Fitbit. Wearable technology for fitness is a trend towards individualized low-cost exercise. Streaming individualized exercise programs is another high-tech solution for low cost, individualized exercise programs and is becoming increasingly popular, though currently it only sits at number 17. Time will tell if this is a fad or a trend.

2. Body weight training. Appearing for the first time in the trends survey in 2013 (at no. 3) was body weight training, and it had taken over the top spot from last year’s first-time entry, high-intensity interval training. Body weight training did not appear as an option before 2013 because it only became popular (as a defined trend) in gyms around the world during the last couple of years. This is not to say that body weight training had not been used previously; in fact, people have been using their own body weight for centuries as a form of resistance training. But new packaging, particularly by commercial clubs, has now made it popular in all kinds of gyms. Typical body weight training programs use minimal equipment, which makes it a very inexpensive way to exercise effectively. Most people think of body weight training as being limited to push-ups and pull-ups, but it can be much more than that.

3. High-intensity interval training. Falling from the top spot in the 2015 survey, high-intensity interval training typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform (although it is not uncommon for these programs to be much longer in duration). There have been warnings by some health and fitness professionals of potentially increased injury rates using high-intensity interval training, however this form of exercise remains popular in gyms all over the world.

4. Strength training. Many younger clients of both community-based programs and commercial clubs train exclusively using weights. Today, however, there are many other individuals (men and women, young and old, children, and patients with a stable chronic disease) whose main focus is on using weight training to improve or maintain strength. Many contemporary health and fitness professionals incorporate some form of strength training into a comprehensive exercise routine for their clients and patients. It is not uncommon at all for cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation or metabolic disease management programs to include weight training in the exercise programs for their patients.

5. Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals.

6. Personal training. Personal trainers are employed by community-based programs, in commercial settings, in corporate wellness programs, and in medical fitness programs or are self-employed and work independently.

7. Functional fitness. Replicating actual physical activities someone might do as a function of his or her daily routine, functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Functional fitness also is used in clinical programs to replicate activities done around the home.

8. Fitness programs for older adults. The highly active older adult (the athletic old) can participate in more rigorous exercise programs including strength training and team sports. Even the frail elderly can improve their balance and ability to perform activities of daily living when provided appropriate functional fitness activities. It is assumed that people who are retired not only have greater sums of discretionary money but also have a tendency to spend it more wisely and may have more time to engage in an exercise program.

9. Exercise and weight loss. The combination of exercise and weight loss is a trend toward incorporating weight loss programs that emphasize caloric restriction with a sensible exercise program. The combination of exercise and diet is essential for weight loss maintenance and can improve compliance to caloric restriction diets and in particular weight loss programs.

10. Yoga. Yoga comes in a variety of forms, including Power Yoga, Yogalates, and Bikram Yoga (the one done in hot and humid environments). Other forms of yoga include Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Anuara Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga. Instructional tapes and books are abundant, as are the growing numbers of certifications for the many yoga formats. Yoga seems to reinvent and refresh itself every year, making it a more attractive form of exercise.

11. Group personal training. The personal trainer will continue to provide the personal service clients expect from one-to-one training but now in a small group typically of two to four. This approach offers potentially deep discounts to each member of the group and creates an incentive for clients to put small groups together.

12. Worksite health promotion. Designed to improve the health and well-being of employees, this is a trend for a range of programs and services that evaluate health, health care costs, and worker productivity.

13. Wellness coaching. Wellness coaching integrates behavioural change science into health promotion, disease prevention, and rehabilitation programs. Wellness coaching often uses a one-on-one approach similar to a personal trainer, with the coach providing support, guidance, and encouragement. The wellness coach focuses on the client’s values, needs, vision, and goals.

14. Outdoor activities.

15. Sport-specific training. This trend incorporates sport-specific training for sports such as baseball and tennis, designed especially for young athletes. For example, a high school athlete might join a commercial or community-based fitness organization to help develop skills during the off-season and to increase strength and endurance specific to that sport, something like functional fitness for sport performance.

16. Flexibility and mobility rollers. Designed to massage, relieve muscle tightness and muscle spasms, increase circulation, ease muscular discomfort, and assist in the return to normal activity, these devices include the deep tissue roller, myofascial release, and trigger point relief. Rollers have been designed for the low back, hips, and for larger muscle groups such as the hamstrings and the gluteals. Some rollers are made of foam while others are hard rubber depending on the desired effect. It was interesting to observe these kinds of programs trending positively for 2016. Although the research is not abundant, there seems to be a growing market for these specialized devices. Fad or trend, only time will tell.

17. Smart Phone Exercise Apps. Available for the iPhone®, iPad®, and Android, smart phone exercise apps such as the Nike Training Club (free app) includes audio and visual prompts to begin and end exercise and includes cues. Some of these apps can track progress across time and can provide real-time feedback. These apps have been questioned about how accurate they are, but they have become increasingly popular with younger gym members or people who exercise regularly outdoors or wish to track their physical activity while doing activities of daily living. As the accuracy improves, these apps specific to smart phones may be the future of monitoring exercise progress.

18. Circuit training. Circuit training is a group of 6 to 10 exercises that are completed one after another and in a predetermined sequence. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a set period before having a quick rest and moving on to the next exercise. Circuit weight training has been around for a long time, and it seems to continue to be popular.

19. Core training. Core training stresses strength and conditioning of the stabilizing muscles of the abdomen, thorax, and back. It typically includes exercises of the hips, lower back, and abdomen, all of which provide support for the spine and thorax. Exercising the core muscles improves overall stability of the trunk and transfers that to the extremities, enabling the individual to meet the demands of activities of daily living and for the performance of various sports that require strength, speed, and agility. Core training often uses stabilizing devices such as exercise balls, BOSU balls, wobble boards, and foam rollers.

20. Outcome measurements. A trend that addresses accountability, outcome measurements are efforts to define and track measurable results to prove that a selected program actually works. Measurements are necessary to determine the benefits of health and fitness programs in disease management and to document success in changing negative lifestyle habits. The proliferation of new technology (particularly smart phones, smart watches, and wearable technology) has aided in data collection to support these efforts. Accountability to owners and operators of health and fitness facilities provides important metrics to determine if new programs are cost-effective and if old programs are actually working.

Read more at the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal