From weights to wearables, here’s what’s hot in 2020 fitness trends

Wearable technology — fitness trackers, smart watches, HR monitors, and GPS tracking devices — is again the No. 1 fitness trend. CONTRIBUTED

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Wearable technology — fitness trackers, smart watches, HR monitors, and GPS tracking devices — is again the No. 1 fitness trend. CONTRIBUTED

From the tried and true to cutting edge, the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual survey of worldwide fitness trends runs the gamut from weights to wearable technology.

In its 14th year, the ACSM survey is completed by thousands of fitness professionals around the world to determine health and fitness trends for the coming year. Wearable technology was the No. 1 trend for the fourth time in the past five years. That includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices. In addition to steps walked, these devices can track heart rate, calories, sitting time and sleep quality.

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“I think fitness trackers are a great way to motivate someone to stay active,” said Karen Wonders, program director and sports science professor in the Wright State University Department of Kinesiology and Health. “I’d say that the main benefits of fitness trackers to the individual are that they help to form healthy habits. Since they can visually see their daily steps, sleep quality, and even heart rate response, it allows the person to set goals to try and improve their overall health, where needed.”

Wonders has seen firsthand the benefits of using fitness trackers as the founder and director of Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, an organization committed to improving the quality of life for people with cancer through exercise, nutrition and faith.

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“We are actually using them at Maple Tree to track the activity levels of some of our home-bound patients,” she said. “For example, I often challenge our more sedentary patients to increase their steps by just 500 each day. This is a relatively simple way to increase activity and give them a quick win that will, hopefully, encourage even more healthy habits.”

Want to get the most out of your device? Wonders advises that the first step is to pick the tracker that is best for their needs.

“Some people are only interested in tracking the number of steps they take, which would require a much simpler model than someone who wanted to track sleep, heart rate, etc.,” she said.

Next, learn how to use it properly.

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“Knowing how to actually use the device will help you so much in the long run,” Wonders said. “I would give yourself at least a week of tracking your activity levels before setting goals. This will allow you to determine what your starting point is, where you should focus on improving, and set you up for success.”

Here, then, are the top 20 fitness trends for 2020, according to the American College of Sports Medicine:

1. Wearable technology — For the fourth time in the past five years, wearable technology was the No. 1 trend and includes fitness trackers, smart watches, HR monitors, and GPS tracking devices.

2. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) — These exercise programs typically involve short bursts of high-intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short period of rest.

3. Group training — Defined as more than five participants, group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate individuals through intentionally designed larger in-person group movement classes.

4. Training with free weights — Previous surveys included a category described as "strength training." Determined to be too broad a category, strength training was dropped in favor of the more specific free weight training, which includes free weights, barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells and medicine ball classes.

5. Personal training — One-on-one training continues to be a trend as the profession of personal training becomes more accessible online, in health clubs, in the home, and in worksites that have fitness facilities.

6. Exercise is Medicine — Exercise is Medicine (EIM) is a global health initiative that focuses on encouraging primary-care physicians and other health-care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit and refer their patients to exercise professionals.

7. Body weight training — Using a combination of variable resistance body weight training and neuromotor movements employing multiple planes of movement, this program is all about using body weight as the training modality. Body weight training uses minimal equipment, which makes it an inexpensive way to exercise effectively.

8. Fitness programs for older adults — This trend continues to stress the fitness needs of the Baby Boom and older generations. People are living longer, working longer, and remaining healthy and active much longer.

9. Health/wellness coaching — This is a growing trend to integrate behavioral science into health promotion and lifestyle medicine programs. Health/wellness coaching uses a one-on-one and, at times, small group approach with the coach providing support, goal setting, guidance, and encouragement.

10. Employing certified fitness professionals — Debuting last year as the No. 6 trend, the importance of hiring certified health fitness professionals through educational programs and certification programs that are fully accredited for health fitness professionals is fast becoming a trend.

Remaining Top 20 trends

11. Exercise for weight loss; 12. Functional fitness training; 13. Outdoor activities; 14. Yoga; 15. Licensure for fitness professionals; 16. Lifestyle medicine; 17. Circuit training; 18. Worksite health promotion and workplace well-being programs; 19. Outcome measurements; 20. Children and exercise.

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