Wearable Tech Named Top Fitness Trend for 2020

Do you use your smartwatch or fitness tracker to track your exercise, heart rate, calorie consumption or sleep quality? If you answered yes, you’re among the millions of adults who use a wearable device at least monthly and part of the growing movement of individuals taking control of their health. Thus, it’s not shocking that more than 3,000 health and fitness pros surveyed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) say wearable tech will be the top trend in fitness in the coming year. ACSM released the results of its annual fitness trend forecast in the article “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020” published today in the November/December issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®.

“Wearable tech has become ingrained in today’s culture, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down,” said ACSM Past President Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, the lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “Tech advances have made it easier than ever for users to collect important health metrics and work with fitness professionals and health care providers to improve exercise efficiency, develop healthy lifestyles, manage chronic diseases and, ultimately, increase quality of life.”
 
According to the “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020,” the top 20 fitness trends are:
  1. Wearable technology: Includes fitness trackers, smart health watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices. Examples include fitness and activity trackers like those manufactured by Fitbit®, Samsung Gear Fit2®, Misfit®, Garmin®, and Apple®. These devices can track HR, calories, sitting time, and much more. While there was some question of accuracy, these issues have seemed to be resolved well enough. Wearable technology has been estimated to be about a $95 billion industry.
  2. 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 fewer sessions continue to be a popular form of exercise around the world.
  3. Group training: Group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate individuals through intentionally designed, larger, in-person group movement classes of 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.
  4. Training with free weights: Instructors focus on teaching proper form for exercises using barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells and/or medicine balls. Resistance progressively increases as the correct form is accomplished.
  5. Personal Training: The popularity of one-on-one training continues to increase as it becomes more accessible online, in clubs, at home, and in worksite fitness facilities. Personal training includes fitness testing and goal setting with the trainer working one on one with a client to prescribe workouts specific to individual needs and goals.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Health/Wellness Coaching: This growing trend integrates behavioral science into health promotion and lifestyle medicine programs. A one-on-one and small group approach provides support, goal setting, and encouragement.
  10. Employing 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.
  11. Exercise for weight loss: Most diet programs incorporate some kind of exercise program into the daily routine of caloric restriction adding the caloric expenditure of physical activity.
  12. Functional fitness training: This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance, coordination, muscular strength, and endurance to improve activities of daily living typically for older adults but also in clinical populations. This type of training replicates actual physical activities someone might do as a function of their daily routine.
  13. Outdoor activities: More outdoor activities such as group walks, group rides, or organized hiking groups are becoming popular. They can be short events, daylong events, or planned weeklong hiking excursions. Participants often meet in a local park, hiking area, or on a bike trail typically with a leader.
  14. Yoga: Yoga has taken on a variety of forms in the past (including Power Yoga, Yogilates, yoga in hot environments, and many others). On-demand videos and books are plentiful, as are certifications in the many yoga formats.
  15. Licensure for fitness professionals: There are some professions in the United States and around the world that are regulated by local, state, or national licensure. For example, people cannot call themselves a medical doctor or nurse or, in most states, a physical therapist or dietitian, without holding a license. This is a trend in the fitness industry to pursue regulation of fitness professionals such as personal trainers and exercise physiologists.
  16. Lifestyle medicine: Lifestyle medicine is the evidence-based practice of helping individuals and families adopt and sustain healthy behaviors that affect health and quality of life. Examples of target patient behaviors include, but are not limited to, eliminating tobacco use, improving diet, increasing physical activity, and moderating alcohol consumption. Lifestyle medicine promotes healthy behaviors as the foundation to medical care, disease prevention, and health promotion.
  17. Circuit training: Circuit training is similar to HIIT, but at a much lower or even moderate intensity (some have called this moderate-intensity interval training). Circuit training is typically a group of about 10 exercises that are completed in succession and in a predetermined sequence. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a set time period before having a quick rest and moving on to the next exercise.
  18. Worksite health promotion and workplace well-being programs: This is a trend toward a range of programs and services provided by employers to improve the health and wellness of workers integrated with systems to support the evaluation of and reporting on the effect on health, costs, and productivity. Programs are generally on-site or with a local gym.
  19. Outcome measurements: There are efforts to define, track, and report outcomes leading to the accountability of both the health club member and the trainer. 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 technology aids in data collection to support these efforts.
  20. Children and exercise: Childhood and adolescent obesity continues to be a major health issue in most developed and developing nations and is important because of its association with other medical issues such as diabetes and hypertension.

American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. More details at www.acsm.org.

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