What you need to know about popular fitness trends
Pilates, zumba, spinning. They are so 2013. What’s new in fitness today? The American College of Sports Medicine did a survey to find out how people are getting in their physical activity this year.
High-intensity interval training.
What is that, you might ask? If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably heard of CrossFit or seen an infomercial for P90X. Both are high-intensity interval training methods, which involve short bursts of activity followed by short periods of rest or recovery.
“These types of programs are popular because people can get fit in a short amount of time, but they also have a high risk for injury,” said Jeff Stephenson, M.D., sports medicine physician. “The nature of the workout lends itself to potential injuries. It’s also not appropriate for everyone. Older adults and those who are not at a high fitness level should stick with lower-intensity workouts.”
Body weight training.
This type of training requires minimal equipment, instead using the participant’s body weight as resistance. This includes push-ups, pull-ups, abdominal crunches and planks.
“People are going back to basics, which is great because these exercises are simple and can be done anywhere, anytime and with no equipment, so there’s no cost,” Dr. Stephenson said.
Personal trainers can help you set and achieve specific goals. They keep you motivated and accountable, so you are more likely to stick to an exercise program. It’s important that people who work out in a gym or use a personal trainer seek out professionals who are certified through accreditation organizations like the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
“This helps ensure the trainer is qualified to provide safe and effective training,” Dr. Stephenson said. “This will help keep the participant safe from injuries.”
Think you can’t afford a personal trainer? More and more trainers are offering economical small-group training options where the fee is broken up among the participants.
This one never goes out of style — lifting weights. While aerobic exercise, such as walking or jogging, maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness, it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does. Lifting weights two or three times a week builds muscle mass and bone density.
“Strength training is an essential part of a complete fitness program, no matter your age, gender or health status,” Dr. Stephenson said. “Increasing muscle mass doesn’t mean ‘bulking up’ — women in particular should know it increases bone strength and can help reduce the risk for osteoporosis.”
Exercise for weight control.
Maybe it’s finally sinking in — proper nutrition and regular exercise are the only tried and true ways to lose weight and keep it off.
Fitness programs specifically for older adults.
Baby boomers are making a big presence in the fitness world. And gyms, studios and fitness centers are noticing by creating age-appropriate fitness programs to keep those over age 50 healthy and active.
“This is a wonderful idea because the importance of exercise doesn’t decline with age,” Dr. Stephenson said. “Older adults may feel intimidated joining a gym full of younger, fitter people; but joining a program made up of peers is a great opportunity for staying active and staying social.”
There are many types of yoga to suit many different lifestyles and fitness levels. Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice that uses body postures to improve overall health, flexibility, balance and relaxation.
“Every type of person could benefit from yoga,” Dr. Stephenson said. “It can be modified to fit any fitness level, it lowers blood pressure, increases strength and flexibility, energizes the body and calms the mind.”
Haven’t yet tried one of these trends? As long as you are doing something in the way of physical activity, that is the important thing. Even if it’s as simple as taking a daily walk, adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week in order to stay healthy. Trend or not, the key is sticking with it.
About our physician
Jeff Stephenson, M.D., practices at Norton Orthopedic Specialists – Brownsboro
Norton Medical Plaza II, Suite 250, 9880 Angies Way, Louisville, KY 40241