From this article, the reader should understand the following concepts:
- Articulate the differences between a fad and a trend.
- Use the worldwide trends in the commercial, corporate, clinical (including medical fitness), and community health fitness industry to further promote physical activity.
- Study expert opinions about identified fitness trends for 2019.
Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, is associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University and a regents’ professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health, the Department of Nutrition, and the School of Public Health. He also is the executive director of After-School All-Stars Atlanta. He is currently serving as the Immediate Past-President of ACSM.
Internationally Recognized Experts Comment on 2019 Trends
Blaine Wilson, M.S., is the senior director of Wellcoaches Corporation, Lubbock, Texas.“Four distinct themes standout from the trends for 2019, groups, technology, professional credentialing, and outcome measurements. Group programing has the ability to build community by creating a sense of belonging and acceptance sustaining emotional and physical well-being in ways that advance aspirations and satisfy needs. Cutting edge programing improves participants’ self-efficacy, as well as prompting action for health behavior change. Wearable technology has the ability to track changes and prompt action. Data can be collected and analyzed individually or within a population. When artificial intelligence is truly integrated with algorithms to replicate authentic human traits (connection, communication, and navigation of emotions), wearables will become more common and powerful to facilitate positive behavior change. Credentialed professionals are the backbone of our field with health and wellness coaching as an example of an emerging field. The International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching has set standards and launched a National Board Certification for Health & Wellness Coaches in 2017. The national certification is accelerating the professionalization of coaching. Measuring outcomes continues to be important for reporting success. However, it is vital to move beyond the standard biometric and participation measures. Our clients have emotions and personal values. We have come to regard emotions as assets rather than data. We focus on managing them which means to exploit, diffuse, or sanitize them far more than staying with them long enough to discern their meaning. Treating emotions as data enables us to interpret and reveal something about our clients. It very well might be the difference maker.”
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is a professor of Exercise Science at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts, where he directs the Exercise Science Program. “As readers of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal ®, we are privileged to receive this important information on a yearly basis. A primary objective for exercise professionals is to engage as many people as possible in purposeful physical activity that promotes better health and fitness. This is an exceptionally challenging task, as evidenced by a landmark study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise ® (2008;4:181-88) revealing that approximately 8% of adolescents, 4% of adults, and 2% of older adults meet the minimum ACSM physical activity recommendations. Therefore, the following trends identified in this year’s survey are encouraging. The 4th rated trend of fitness programs for older adults is essential for this rapidly growing population in need of age-specific physical activity. Helping older adults become fit is personally beneficial to them, as well as to everyone who shares in health care costs, which is closely associated with the 10th rated trend of Exercise is Medicine. Our most prevalent health problem is overweight/obesity, with more than 70% of Americans in this category. The 12th rated trend of exercise for weight loss should be given serious attention, and hopefully regain a higher rating in next year’s survey. I am pleased to see worksite health promotion and well-being programs as the 15th rated trend, as engaging people in exercise at work has greater potential than essentially any of the alternatives.”
Florentina Hettinga, Ph.D., SFHEA, FECSS, FACSM, is reader, postgraduate director, head of the Sport Performance and Fatigue Research Unit, at the University of Essex School of Sport, Rehabilitation, and Exercise Science, United Kingdom. “2019 will be another interesting year for fitness trends. Number 1 this year is wearable technology. This is a powerful one as wearable technology can really assist in changing people’s physical activity behavior, and increase training adherence. For promoting and stimulating an active lifestyle, wearable technology provides multiple opportunities. I expect to see more advancements both in design and in use of wearable technology to change physical activity behavior. Nice examples can be seen everywhere, such as one of my colleagues jumping while having a beer in the pub after work, just to make sure he would reach his daily step count target. For trend #2 we find group training, and this is my favorite one. In my own research, I have explored the benefits of competition and racing against other people, which in 80% of the cases resulted in better performance. In group training sessions, the positive benefits of competition can be used, and this can stimulate exercisers to perform and engage. Also, elements of social facilitation that occur in groups are important, and positive encouragement has been found to lead to better training adherence and training effects. I am not surprised to find wearable technology and group training amongst the top trends this upcoming year.”
Yuri Feito, Ph.D., MPH, FACSM, is an associate professor of Exercise Science in the Department of Exercise Science & Sport Management in the Wellstar College of Health & Human Services at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. “For more than a decade we have been able to “look into the future” with the publication of ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends. This year, similar to previous years, some trends remain in the top 20, while others have lost their appeal. The last five years have seen a revolution of the fitness industry with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), bodyweight training, and wearable technology leading the way. Although hard to say with certainty, this might suggest that consumers are seeking less traditional environments to engage in their physical activity and exercise pursuits. This, of course, is in line with current efforts to promote physical activity in the built environment and repeated reports of the benefits of HIIT in the media. In addition, it is not surprising that wearable technology continues to be important, considering how connected we all are. Nonetheless, if the use of technology encourages people to be active, I think it is a win-win for all (#BeActive). More importantly, what I take from this survey is the continued need for qualified and experienced professionals. In an industry that employs millions, we must find a way to standardize a minimum level of aptitude and skill to keep people safe in the pursuit of an active lifestyle.”
Disclosures: The author declares no conflict of interest and does not have any financial disclosures.