Wearable Tech is New Top Fitness Trend for 2019

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Annual industry survey predicts what you’ll see in fitness next year

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 such as virtual reality, community interventionist, and Access Pass. None of the possible new trends made the top 20 list. The top 20 trends were ranked and published by ACSM. 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:

  1. Wearable Technology: Includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

The full list of top 20 trends is available in the article “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2019” published in the current issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®.

American College of Sports Medicine

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Physical Activity for Combating Chronic Inflammation in Older Adults

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Chronic inflammation is a condition contributing to development of several diseases and functional decline during aging. While regular physical activity is an important factor for healthy aging, little is known about whether it may favorably influence chronic inflammation in the elderly. These investigators studied the impact on inflammation in older women after replacing half an hour of time they spent in sedentary behavior with equal amounts of time in physical activity of different intensities.

The study shows that replacing half an hour of sedentary behavior with physical activity was related to reduced levels of inflammation. Engagement in daily physical activity of at least moderate intensity had a beneficial impact regardless of the subjects’ daily sedentary time. This supports the existence of different intensity thresholds by which physical activity may influence on chronic inflammation. These study findings were confirmed in older women among individuals with varying health status. The results support public health efforts to increase physical activity to promote health in older adults.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Using Lord Of The Rings to Revolutionize Coaching? How Artificial Intelligence can Assess Athlete Performance and Injury Risk.

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Observing how an athlete moves is a common way to assess their performance potential or risk for injury. These assessments use visual observations, which can lead to different conclusions based on the coach/doctor who conducts the assessment or the day/time of the observations. In this study, the investigators assessed 542 athletes, ranging in skill from beginner (youth or recreational) to professional (NFL, NBA, FIFA, MLB players). Each athlete completed seven movements while being filmed by motion capture cameras.

These cameras are like those used to bring life-like movements to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies and to players in sports video games. By combining the athletes’ camera data with computer-based artificial intelligence, the investigators were able to classify athletes as elite or novice based on how they moved. For a more detailed outcome beyond this basic classification, the athletes also were scored on a scale from 0% (moves like a novice) to 100% (moves like a professional).

This method is a breakthrough in movement assessment that reduces the need to rely on human observers. This method will improve consistency of classifying athletes in movement evaluations by coaches/doctors. In addition, it may be used for sports training and rehabilitation purposes. The investigators’ next step is to use this method to identify those athletes who are more likely to sustain an injury.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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ACSM-Backed PHIT Bill Passes House of Representatives

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 6199, the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018, by a vote of 277-142. The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, a bill that provides Americans with the ability to invest in active, healthy activities that promote improved health, was included as part of H.R. 6199. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.

The PHIT Act, sponsored by representatives Jason Smith (R-MO) and Ron Kind (D-WI), would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow a medical care tax deduction in health savings accounts for up to $1,000 ($500 single filer) of qualified sports and fitness expenses per year. The bill defines “qualified sports and fitness expenses” as amounts paid exclusively for the sole purpose of participating in a physical activity, including fitness facility memberships, physical exercise or activity programs, and safety equipment for a physical exercise or activity program.

“The number of individuals not meeting physical activity guidelines is staggering, and cost has become a barrier for too many Americans,” said Jim Whitehead, CEO and Executive Vice President for the American College of Sports Medicine. “The PHIT Act will lower this barrier and help move more Americans from inactive to active, addressing a critical health issue in our culture today.”

ACSM has been actively involved in advocating for the PHIT Act through direct advocacy, its annual Capitol Hill Day and Action Alerts, and it will push for its adoption into law. As the bill continues down the legislative path, ACSM will work with Congress to ensure that the legislation meets its intended goals of creating health care policy that promotes active, healthy lifestyles.

American College of Sports Medicine

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