By Rory Glynn
The No. 1 fitness trend for 2017 is sure to be found under plenty of trees.
Wearable technology, including activity trackers like the Fitbit, smart watches and heart-rate monitors, for the second straight year tops the list compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Fitbit updated its popular Charge fitness tracker with the Charge 2 this fall; it was rated the top fitness tracker by techradar.com, followed by models from Samsung, Microsoft, Jawbone, Under Armour, Withings, TomTom and Garmin, as well as other Fitbit models.
Fitness trackers keep adding smart watch-like features such as text and call notifications and better screens, because smart watches are integrating more and more fitness-tracker features in one device.
Consider the Apple Watch, which may approach 500 million devices by 2018, according to the ACSM. The new Apple Watch Nike+, introduced in October, includes familiar features (GPS to track your route, pace and distance) and new ones like the Nike+ Run Club app, progress sharing, even virtual fist bumps.
Wearable technology was also on the list of expected fitness trends in 2016, along with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga and a few others that made the list again in 2017.
Now in its 11th year, the ACSM survey was based on responses by 1,801 professionals in the health and fitness industry worldwide. Respondents were asked to identify and rank trends – general changes in the way people are behaving – as opposed to fads.
Two identified trends are new to the top 10 for 2017:
- Group training (No. 6): Defined as six or more students of varying abilities being led by an instructor, this category encompasses all manner of activities, from aerobics to dance to spinning. Obviously, this isn’t a new concept; study author Walter R. Thompson, associate dean and professor of kinesiology at Georgia State University and president-elect of the ACSM, wrote, “None of the respondents could explain why group training has become popular, so it will be interesting to watch this trend in 2018 and beyond.”
- Exercise is Medicine® (No. 7): This global initiative led by the ACSM “is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients … EIM is committed to the belief that physical activity is integral in the prevention and treatments of diseases and should be regularly assessed and treated as part of all health care.”
Rounding out the top 10 in the ACSM survey:
- Body Weight Training (No. 2): Simple exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges and planks, with minimal equipment and expense.
- High-Intensity Interval Training (No. 3,): Defined as “short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery.” No. 1 trend in 2014; some experts are concerned by the potential for injury.
- Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals (No. 4)
- Strength Training (No. 5)
- Yoga (No. 8)
- Personal Training (No. 9)
- Exercise and Weight Loss (No. 10)
Click here to view the full survey results with commentary from the ACSM.