How wearable tech is changing the fitness game
Thursday, July 13, 2017
For the past 11 years, the American College of Sports Medicine has published a list of the top 20 health and fitness trends for the upcoming year. In what is a relatively new project, it is interesting to see how public perception of fitness has changed over the years.
The study highlights the difference between fads and trends, noting that surveyors do their best to filter out the fads from this annual list.
For the second year in a row, wearable technology holds the top spot on the list of health and fitness trends. The 2017 list was based off 1,801 responses, with most of the respondents having a background in health and fitness themselves. Wearable technology includes activity trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices.
A Google search on the best fitness devices for sale musters up several listicles heralding almost every wearable as the best one on the market. The ACSM study notes that business analysts have predicted Apple Watch sales to reach 485 million devices by 2018. However, Garmin, Fitbit and Moov Now seem to dominate the market in terms of reviews.
Wearable tech changes the game not only for the individual, but also for researchers — offering more accessible and accurate information to gauge when studying future fitness trends.
"The wealth of information detected by today's accelerometers provides researchers the opportunity to study not only exercise, but also sitting, standing and walking, and eventually get a better idea of how these activities affect health," according to an article by LiveScience.
In second and third on this year's list of the top health and fitness trends is body weight training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), respectively.
Body weight training relies on minimal equipment, making it inexpensive and perfect for a quick home workout. On the other hand, HIIT involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by a quick break. Again, HIIT is perfect for those on a time crunch, as an adequate HIIT workout session can last less than 30 minutes.
These top three trends indicate a growing shift in the way people are approaching fitness. From 2008 until 2013, educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals held the top spot on this list. This year, they've been bumped down to fourth place.
The common denominator among the wearable technologies and quick and easy home workouts is the reliance on individuals taking control of their own fitness expectations. People are trading scheduled, professional appointments for more flexible and personal options when working out — a possible byproduct of the "do it yourself" Google era filled with self-made Instagram fitness junkies.
It seems that personal fitness will continue to grow alongside wearable tech, as experts will be able to watch trends and provide more accurate information to the public, who will in turn have the knowledge to better gauge what exercise will work best for their bodies.
Dropping out of last year's top 20 list is sport-specific training, core training and child-specific exercise programs aimed at weight loss. On the other hand, group exercise and exercise is medicine made their way onto the list for the first time this year.
You can find an archive of previous surveys, as well as this year's survey, in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal.
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