UWe 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 also helpful. But ask yourself: Is the effort you put into your preferred activity paying off? The best fitness trends of the year might just reignite your workout and motivate you to refine 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. The types of training experienced are up in the rankings. This involves using your own body weight or free weights to work your muscles. (Bicep curls and curls, anyone?)
“Exercise is medicine—it’s vital to health and fitness,” says Julia L. Yafrat, DO, a sports medicine physician at NYU Langone and an orthopedic specialist. “A well-rounded fitness plan not only improves your overall cardiovascular health, but you reduce the likelihood of injury down the road by building muscle strength and stability and improving your range of motion.”
Here’s how you can incorporate the year’s best fitness trends into your own workout routine.
Purpose: Track your performance
From smartwatches and rings to heart rate monitors and GPS trackers, wearable technology is the number one fitness trend of the year. “Today’s generation of gadgets can give you a holistic picture of your health, including how well you rested,” says Dr. Iafrate.
Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. Poor quality and insufficient sleep can hinder athletic performance and increase the risk of injury and illness. In turn, exercise has been shown to help people sleep better. A smart ring allows Dr. Iafrate to monitor her sleep and overall well-being. “It tells you if you’re ready for a vigorous workout or if today is more of a yoga day,” she notes.
There is also a social aspect. Some smartwatches allow people to share data with family and friends. “It’s good to train together even when you’re apart, and if you’re competing, it can provide an extra dose of motivation,” points out Dr. Yafrat.
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.
Purpose: Build and maintain muscle
If barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells aren’t part of your regular 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 good 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 in multiple planes. And strong muscles support bone health: “The more muscle you build when you’re young, the stronger your bones become,” notes Dr. Iafrate.
How do your muscle strength and endurance stack up? The NYU Langone Center for Sports Excellence team offers performance tests customized for your specific sport. To register for an assessment, email [email protected]
Purpose: Exercise anytime, anywhere
Bodyweight training may remind you of childhood gym classes, but it’s anything but child’s play.
Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and planks use your own body weight, rather than an exercise machine or free weights, as resistance. You can train all major muscle groups of the upper and lower body and 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 uses the weight of your torso to strengthen the muscles in your arms, shoulders, and abs toward your back and legs.
“Bodyweight training is popular because it’s cheap; you don’t need any equipment and you can do it anywhere,” says Dr. Iafrate. “This can be a great option for people who travel a lot, don’t have access to a gym, or want a quick, inexpensive way to get or stay in shape.”
Whether you’re starting an exercise program or rebuilding your regimen, a personal trainer can help you establish and maintain your fitness goals. The experts at the Sports Performance Center can create a fitness program that works for you at home or on the go. Email [email protected] to set up a personal training session or package of sessions.
Goal: Stay active as you age
From online yoga to chair aerobics, exercise programs aimed at baby boomers and others have exploded in popularity. This is 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 problem.
“Programs and classes designed for older adults can keep you moving and motivated, even if you’ve led a mostly sedentary lifestyle,” explains Dr. Iafrate. “The goal is to stay healthy and physically active throughout your life, and regular exercise can help you do that.” A big plus: Senior fitness programs can build friendships, she adds.
Our Sports Excellence 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 protected]
Goal: Reduce the risk of injury
For better balance, coordination, strength and endurance, try functional fitness training. This top five trend mimics the movements you do in real life: bending, squatting, spinning. Practicing these movements helps people of all ages perform daily life activities as well as their favorite sports and activities.
“Most of the dancers I see as patients are quite flexible, but often lack the strength to stabilize their joints and thus injure themselves,” notes Dr. Iafrate. “Having good flexibility and stability is key to reducing the risk of injury.”
To demonstrate, Dr. Iafrate stands on one leg while holding a dumbbell at arm’s length in front of his body. She then alternates the position of the weight behind her back and again in front of her. “This is considered a functional movement because it engages the ankle and core while strengthening the shoulders.”
The experts at the Sports Performance Center can conduct a functional movement screen to assess any asymmetries, muscle imbalances, weaknesses and dysfunctional movements that pose a risk of injury. To register, email [email protected]