Fitness trends come and go but being fit never goes out of style. Just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s make it better than the tried and true stuff, like strength training. Still, it’s interesting to catch a glimpse of what the rest of the world is doing to stay fit. What’s likely to be hot in 2017?
For the 11th straight year, the America College of Sports Medicine publishes its survey of fitness trends for the upcoming year. This is the survey fitness professionals use to keep up with the ever-changing world of exercise, health, and fitness. Here are some of the most popular trends from the 2017 survey.
Wearable technology isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, it’s poised to grow. People want to track their activity and parameters like heart rate during exercise and throughout the day. Fitness trackers make it possible to do that. The category includes devices, like heart rate monitors to more advanced trackers, like smart watches and GPS devices. In fact, wearable technology stole first place in the 2017 survey.
Despite the growing popularity of these tracking devices, it’s not clear whether wearable technology actually helps with weight loss. In fact, one study found that those who wore a fitness tracker lost LESS weight. What they can give you is feedback on how many calories you’re consuming or burning, your heart rate, how many steps you’re taking, and even your sleeping habits. If you run, you can use a fitness tracker to chart your running pace and distance. Do you really need all of this information? People seem to think so.
With the rapid growth of these devices, you’ll see fewer people checking their heart rate manually and simple devices like pedometers will become less popular. Still, don’t count on wearable technology to do the work for you. It only gives you feedback. Just as helpful might be an app that verbally motivates you.
Body Weight Exercise
Body weight training is no longer restricted to quick workouts in a hotel room when you’re on vacation. It moved up the charts to number two this year. That’s because working your own body against resistance is straightforward and it works. Think of the many variations of push-ups, dips, and planks you can do even if you don’t have weights on hand. For lower body, you can challenge your muscles with more advanced versions of squats, like one-legged squats, and lunges. Even without weights, you can ramp up the challenge by going lower and adding pulses and isometric holds. However, don’t give up your dumbbells and barbells. It’s best to work your body in a variety of ways and body weight training is another alternative.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Next in line is an old favorite that’s withstood the test of time – high-intensity interval training. HIIT training topped the list in 2014 and has stayed near the top ever since. No wonder. With high-intensity interval training you enhance your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. By fine-tuning the active and rest periods of a HIIT workout, you can make a high-intensity workout more aerobic or more anaerobic.
High-intensity interval training has a number of advantages that steady-state cardio doesn’t. It’s time expedient. Plus, research shows vigorous exercise may offer more cardiovascular benefits than low and moderate-intensity exercise. HIIT training may also burn more belly fat and preserve muscle better than moderate-intensity cardio. You also get a more sustained after-burn where your body blasts more calories during the recovery period afterward. That’s why it holds on to the no. 3 spot.
Strength training dropped from no. 4 to no. 5 this year with certified fitness professionals taking its place. Still, there’s no denying its health benefits. Without strength training, your muscles gradually lose strength and size as you age. With loss of muscle tissue, you also lose bone mass. You need strength training to slow down the loss of muscle tissue and help prevent sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle tissue. Nothing beats strength training for doing that. Although body weight exercises offer benefits, you need dumbbells, barbells, or resistance bands for progressive overload and to avoid reaching a plateau.
Other Highlights of the Survey
Yoga moved from no. 7 in 2015 to the no. 8 spot but has staying power due to the many variations of yoga you can do. Plus, yoga helps lengthen the muscles that shorten when you sit all day and combats stress as well. With the exception of power yoga, it’s not an aggressive calorie burner but it helps make you more mindful of what you eat. Plus, people enjoy the relaxational aspects of yoga.
One type of training that’s fallen in popularity over the past 8 years is functional training. In fact, it fell to no. 12 from a high of no. 4 in 2007. Functional training is an approach to strength training that focuses on integrated movements you do every day. Rather than training muscles in isolation, muscles work together via compound movements. These integrated movements train you to better carry out tasks you do every day, like lifting a heavy load or bending over to pick up a child or pet. A lack of trendiness doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Building functional fitness is an important aspect of any training program.
Circuit training showed up at no. 19 from its peak at no.14 in 2015. Yet, it’s unlikely that the love of circuit training will die anytime soon. It’s one of the most time-expedient ways to work your entire body. With circuit training, you enhance muscle endurance while elevating your heart rate. If you limit the rest between exercises, you also get some cardiovascular benefit as well. If you’re short on time, pick five exercises and do each of them for 30 seconds and complete 3 sets. Circuit workouts may not be as trendy these days but they have staying power.
Barely making the top 20 was flexibility exercises and mobility rollers for myofascial release. This type of training came in last on the list at no. 20, down from no.16 in 2016. Some studies suggest that mobility rollers may not be that effective.
What didn’t make the top 20 for 2017? Disappointingly, core training dropped off the list and we all need it. Also, not making the top 20 were boot camp workouts, Zumba, indoor cycling, Pilates, running clubs, stability ball exercises, and exercise for overweight and obese kids.
The Bottom Line
Now, you have a better feel for the trends in 2017, but you’ll do just fine sticking to the basics. Strength training, high-intensity training, and yoga for recovery. Yet, you can always shake up your workout by trying something new. That’s the beauty of exercise – there are so many ways to do it. Take advantage of that!
ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2017”
NPR. “Weight Loss On Your Wrist? Fitness Trackers May Not Help”