Won’t leave home without your smart watch, fitness tracker or GPS tracking device? If so, you’re not alone. More consumers and health and fitness professionals are using technology to monitor heart rate and collect other daily health metrics. Not surprisingly, wearable technology is forecast as next year’s most popular trend in fitness according to more than 2,000 health and fitness pros surveyed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
“Technology is a must-have in our daily lives, and wearable tech can be an invaluable tool for those looking to get and stay physically active,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, the lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “We can easily monitor heart rate, count steps, track calories and create plans. The data collected by wearable technology can be used to inform the user and their health care team about important daily health metrics like physical activity, and it encourages healthier lifestyle choices.”
Besides its expanding popularity, wearable technology’s rise to the top trend for 2019 may have been fueled by manufacturers correcting monitoring inaccuracies in the past. Thompson is enthusiastic about the broad impact wearable tech can have across the population. “From teenagers to seniors, the growing number of people using wearable technology has never been higher,” said Thompson. “That means more and more people have fingertip access to tools and resources that can help them stay active and healthy.”
Now in its 13th year, the annual survey helps the health and fitness industry make critical programming and business decisions. The survey provided 39 potential trends to choose from, including possible new trends like virtual reality, community interventionist and Access Pass. None of the new possibilities made the top fitness trends 20 list.
Notable trends include group training, which maintained the number two spot; the continued popularity of high-intensity interval training (HIIT); a growing emphasis on employing certified fitness professionals and increased interest in workplace health and wellness programs.
The top 10 fitness trends for 2019 are:
Wearable Technology: Includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices.
Group Training: Group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate individuals through intentionally designed, larger, in-person group movement classes (more than five participants). Group programs are designed to be motivational and effective for people at different fitness levels, with instructors using leadership techniques that help individuals achieve fitness goals.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. Despite concerns expressed by some fitness professionals, these 30-minute or less sessions continue to be a popular form of exercise around the world.
Fitness Programs for Older Adults: As Baby Boomers age into retirement, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.
Bodyweight Training: Bodyweight training uses minimal equipment, making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness.
Employ Certified Fitness Professionals: Hiring health/fitness professionals certified through programs accredited by the NCCA is more important than ever. ACSM is one of the largest and most prestigious fitness-certification organizations in the world.
Yoga: Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. This includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.
Personal Training: With the growing emphasis on increased physical activity, more people are preparing for careers in allied health fields like personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers remain important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.
Functional Fitness Training: This trend focuses on strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.
Exercise is Medicine®: This global health initiative by ACSM encourages health care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated referrals to certified fitness professionals in the community as part of every patient visit.