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Ten Health-Related Reasons for Having an Attitude of Gratitude About 2017

Peterson, James A. Ph.D., FACSM

doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000348
Departments: Take Ten
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James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM,is a freelance writer and consultant in sports medicine. From 1990 until 1995, Dr. Peterson was director of sports medicine with StairMaster. Until that time, he was professor of physical education at the United States Military Academy.

  1. A way of life. The importance of lifestyle medicine experienced even greater awareness in 2017. In the process, as members of the medical and exercise science communities looked for better ways to address the health care needs of their patients and clients, they expanded their base of knowledge, their professional skillset, and their arsenal of tools concerning how best to treat and prevent a variety of lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.
  2. Gear, gadgets, and gizmos. The number of devices and contraptions on the health care wearable market that purports to help individuals live a healthier and better life continued to expand in both quantity and functionality in 2017. From integrating a fitness tracker right into the soles of the shoes that people wear to installing heart rate technology in devices that are worn on the wrist that focus on measuring and improving sleep, the future of wearable tracking technology suggests the development of yet even more advanced tools in the years ahead.
  3. A quantum leap forward. In 2017, for the first time, scientists successfully edited genes in human embryos to repair a common and serious mutation that could cause a heart condition and possibly lead to sudden death later in life. The effort is a promising indication that gene editing, one day, might protect babies in the womb from a variety of undesirable hereditary conditions. Potentially, the technique could apply to any of the more than 10,000 known conditions that are caused by specific inherited mutations.
  4. An endless stream of choices. Continuing a trend that began almost 4 decades ago, exercise equipment manufacturers in 2017 designed, built, and promoted an expanded array of new machines and accessories. This lineup not only featured next-generation workout implements, it also included a number of innovative facility-based programming offerings, such as regeneration options for exercisers.
  5. Alert and alive. The value of mindfulness has been accorded an increased level of attention in the past year. In the process, support for mindfulness programs that are designed to help ease stress, focus better, and live with more awareness and fulfillment has grown substantially.
  6. Food for thought. Understanding the causal relationship between nutrition and brain function continued to be a focus of many researchers in 2017. To date, these investigative efforts have determined that a diet can be created that can help facilitate brain development and cognitive function as well as help slow the aging process to lessen a person’s risk of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  7. Even less puffing…and huffing. The slow decline of smoking in the United States, which began with the release of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, published in January 1964, continued in 2017. In fact, the number of smokers has dropped to its lowest level ever (less than one adult in five) in the intervening 53 years.
  8. Revolutionary changes. The lineup of medicines prescribed for patients with chronic diseases continued to shift in 2017 as a wave of research into new ways to treat these conditions produced new understandings, new processes and procedures, and new medicinal options. In many instances, these cutting-edge innovations are driving sweeping changes in health care in America.
  9. Looking high and low. Research indicates that the number of people turning to the Internet to search for a diverse array of health-related information continued to grow in 2017, as did the amount of information on the Internet that is available concerning health, well-being, and medicine. Among the topics that were most looked up were (in order) a specific disease or medical problem; a particular medical treatment or procedure; diet, nutrition, and vitamins; exercise/fitness.
  10. Flagship text. In 2017, ACSM published the 10th edition of a handbook long considered to be the definitive resource in sports medicine, exercise science, and health and fitness—ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. This one-of-a-kind resource provides scientifically based, evidence-informed standards that affect every segment of the exercise community.
© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine.