We all need regular physical activity to get and stay fit and improve our health. Ideally, your fitness regimen includes aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Exercises that promote balance and flexibility are helpful too. But ask yourself: Is the effort you put into your preferred activity paying off? The year’s top fitness trends might just reenergize your workout and motivate you to fine-tune your personal fitness goals.
The American College of Sports Medicine’s annual survey of fitness professionals, which identifies the top trends in fitness, offers plenty of inspiration. Tried-and-true types of training are up in the rankings. This includes using your own body weight or free weights to work your muscles. (Pull-ups and bicep curls, anyone?)
“Exercise is medicine—it’s vital for health and fitness,” says Julia L. Iafrate, DO, an NYU Langone sports medicine physician and orthopedic specialist. “Not only does a well-rounded fitness plan improve your overall cardiovascular health, but you reduce the likelihood of injury down the road by building your muscle strength and stability and enhancing your range of motion.”
Here’s how can you can incorporate the year’s top fitness trends into your own exercise routine.
Goal: Track Your Performance
From smart watches and rings to heart rate monitors and GPS trackers, wearable technology is the year’s number one fitness trend. “Today’s generation of gadgets can give you a holistic picture of your health, including how well-rested you are,” says Dr. Iafrate.
Exercise and sleep go hand-in-hand. Poor-quality and insufficient sleep can impede athletic performance and raise the risk of injury and illness. Exercise, in turn, has been shown to help people sleep better. A smart ring allows Dr. Iafrate to monitor her sleep and overall wellbeing. “It tells you if you’re ready for a vigorous workout or whether today’s more of a yoga day,” she observes.
There’s a social aspect too. Some smart watches allow people to share data with family and friends. “It’s nice to work out together even when you’re apart, and if you’re competitive, it can provide an extra dose of motivation,” Dr. Iafrate points out.
NYU Langone Sports Health experts work with active people and athletes to improve their performance in whatever activity they participate in. To see a member of our multidisciplinary team, call 844-888-8301 or request an appointment online.
Goal: Build and Maintain Muscle
If barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells are not part of your usual routine, you’re missing out on one of the biggest fitness trends of the year. “Strength training with free weights keeps your workout interesting, and you can modify the exercise to fit your needs,” says Dr. Iafrate.
Building and maintaining muscle is important, no matter what sport or activity you prefer. “Muscles give us strength, stability, and endurance,” she explains, “and strength training with free weights is beneficial for muscle health.”
Using free weights also helps with neuromuscular control, or how well your nerves and muscles work together to move your body in multiple directions and across multiple planes. And strong muscles support bone health: “The more muscle you build when you’re young, the stronger your bones become,” Dr. Iafrate notes.
How does your muscle strength and endurance stack up? NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center team offers performance testing customized to your specific sport. To register for an evaluation, email email@example.com.
Goal: Exercise Anytime, Anywhere
Body weight training may remind you of your childhood gym class, but it is anything but kids’ play.
Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and planks use your own body weight, instead of an exercise machine or free weights, as resistance. You can work all the major muscle groups of your upper and lower body and your core. If you practice yoga, you may already be familiar with the low-plank pose known as chaturanga—it looks like the starting position of a push-up—which leverages the weight of your torso to strengthen muscles from your arms, shoulders, and abdomen to your back and legs.
“Body weight training is popular because it’s cheap; you don’t need any equipment, and you can do it anywhere,” says Dr. Iafrate. “It can be a great option for people who travel a lot, don’t have access to gym, or want a quick, inexpensive way to get or stay fit.”
Whether you’re beginning an exercise program or getting your regimen back on track, a personal trainer can help you establish and maintain your fitness goals. Experts at the Sports Performance Center can design a fitness program that works for you when you’re at home or on the go. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a personal training session or package of sessions.
Goal: Remain Active as You Age
From online yoga to chair aerobics, exercise programs targeting Baby Boomers and beyond have spiked in popularity. That’s good news for people who don’t feel comfortable working out alongside people half their age or younger, or when joint pain or mobility issues are a concern.
“Programs and classes designed for the older adult can keep you moving and motivated, even if you have been mostly sedentary,” Dr. Iafrate explains. “The goal is to remain healthy and physically active throughout your life, and regular exercise can help you do that.” A big plus: older adult fitness programs can build camaraderie, she adds.
Our Sports Performance Center offers Total Body Wellness Classes for active adults 60 and older who want to focus on their strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. To register, email email@example.com.
Goal: Reduce Your Risk of Injury
For better balance, coordination, strength, and endurance, try functional fitness training. This top-five trend mimics the moves you make in real life: bending, squatting, rotating. Practicing these moves helps people of all ages perform everyday activities of life as well as their favorite sports and activities.
“Most of the dancers I see as patients are quite flexible, but they often don’t have the strength to stabilize their joints, and that’s how they get injured,” Dr. Iafrate notes. “Having good flexibility and stability is the key to decreasing your risk for injury.”
To demonstrate, Dr. Iafrate stands on one foot while holding a kettlebell at arm’s length in front of her body. Next, she alternates the position of the weight behind her back and in front of her again. “This is considered a functional movement because it engages the ankle and core while strengthening the shoulders.”
Experts at the Sports Performance Center can conduct a Functional Movement Screen to assess any asymmetries, muscular imbalances, weaknesses, and dysfunction movements that pose a risk for injury. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.