26 June, 2008

Fitness Trends 2008

+ Pilates will continue to grow as one of the nation's most popular fitness trends. Based on the century-old teachings of Joseph Pilates, this artful discipline was originally designed to give dancers muscle strength without added bulk. This form of exercise is ideal for individuals seeking to improve strength, posture, flexibility and body awareness. Every Pilates exercise movement requires control of the entire body and focuses on the quality of movement, correct alignment and proper breathing.

+ More and more fitness classes will focus on core strength workouts. To achieve balance, strength and stability of the core (i.e., the body's center of power), exercise classes that utilize stability balls, medicine balls, core boards, etc., will continue to gain popularity. Having a strong core is essential because the body's core muscles serve as the foundation for all other movement. The muscles of the hips and torso help stabilize the spine and pelvis, and provide the foundation for safe and efficient movement in the extremities. Training the muscles of the core may also help correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries.

+ "Active relaxation" is on the rise. Gentler forms of exercise that promote better sleep, longevity, reduced stress, increased energy and an overall sense of well being will continue to compete with traditional strength, weight loss and other forms of exercise programs. The aging population has realized that fitness is more than vanity, and that flexibility, meditation/breathing, yoga and other holistic exercise routines will provide long-lasting and meaningful benefits.

+ Sport-specific training will continue to guide athletes and the general public into fitness facilities. As the number of marathon runners, tennis players and other athletes increases, so does the importance of sport-specific training. On today's playing fields, the athletes are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. A sport-specific training program involves focusing on the specific skills associated with an activity (e.g., tennis players strengthening the rotator cuff muscles to improve their serve), while improving cardio respiratory endurance, muscle strength and flexibility.

+ Seniors' awareness of the importance of strength training will increase. Osteoporosis weakens bones to the point where they break easily, especially bones in the hip, spine and wrist. Approximately 25 million Americans have osteoporosis - 80 percent are women. Weight bearing exercises, done on a regular basis, are best for preventing it. Research also reveals that strength training can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels, manage arthritis pain and reduce the risk of disabling falls.

+ On-line personal training will continue to gain popularity. Training online saves money and time, overcomes barriers to facility access and helps encourage individuals to stay active. Many of these programs offer practical tips on exercise, one-on-one fitness consultations with certified fitness professionals, coaching and training tools, and portable exercise tools that help individuals incorporate fitness into their busy schedules. On-line person training is valuable, but it typically is not as effective as having one-on-one contact with a certified fitness professional.

+ The need for personal training will increase. It appears, unfortunately, that most Americans lack the commitment, motivation, and/or knowledge of fitness to stick with their exercise routines. In fact, it is estimated that 50 percent of individuals who start an exercise program quit within the first 6 months. Many individuals have found that just a few sessions with a well-trained, certified fitness professional helps them refine and recommit to their workout programs. The net effect is that they are more likely to safely achieve the results they desire.

+ Circuit-training classes, which combine cardio with strength training, will become more popular. The focus of these classes is to combine cardio and strength training into one workout to meet the needs of so many Americans who are "time starved" and want to get the greatest training effect in the shortest amount of time. Combo classes also should help to improve exercise adherence because they enable individuals to achieve more in less time.

+ Exercises will increasingly become a family affair. Given the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, there is a tremendous need to identify ways to encourage kids to become more physically active. Fortunately, many parents are not only telling their children about the benefits of being physically active, but are also serving as fitness role models. The name of the game is to choose activities that each member of the family can enjoy, regardless of age, fitness level or athletic ability.

+ Corporations will continue to urge employees to participate in wellness exercise programs. The "bottom line" is the bottom line for companies. With the state of the economy and the increased pace of technology, there is a growing epidemic of stress-related diseases among Americans in the workforce costing companies billions each year. Corporate wellness programs provide exercise equipment and "health advisers" to their staff. Employers who offer such programs may benefit from reduced healthcare costs, absenteeism, injury rates and turnover and improved job performance, productivity and morale.

This article written by Kiran Sawhney will also be found on the following web site:

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