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As the new year begins, many people are making efforts to improve their fitness.
The 2013 American College of Sports Medicine Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends recently revealed a list of this year’s top trends in the health and fitness industry.
We asked Dr. Rob Kominiarek, a board certified family physician specializing in health and fitness, author and host of an online fitness program, to examine five of the trends in more detail, offering benefits and things to keep in mind for each.
Trend: Strength training
- Benefits: "Perhaps the most beneficial form of exercise is strength training. It is the single most effective way to lose body fat, improve strength, increase muscle mass and increase physical fitness. A fact of life is that as we age, our bodies lose muscle mass in a process called sarcopenia. This happens for both men and women, and it begins in your 30s and can progress rapidly. If you do not strength train, you will lose about three to five percent of your muscle mass per decade, and after age 50, the rate of muscle loss can increase to over 10 percent per decade."
- Reminders: "When beginning any new strength-training routine, it is best to schedule an appointment with your physician to ensure that you are ready to engage in strenuous physical activity. Be sure to follow a structured routine that progresses and challenges you as your physical ability improves. Too often, individuals try to do 'too much, too fast,' and then injure themselves."
Trend: Personal training
- Benefits: "A personal trainer can help by: creating training programs to follow and monitor; monitoring your progress; teaching correct form; improving accountability; keeping motivation high; increasing your ability; providing encouragement; (and) creating and monitoring nutritional guidelines."
Reminders: "If you decide to hire a personal trainer, it is important to hire one that has been certified by a training organization and that demonstrates professionalism with clientele. Here are six top certifying bodies: the American College of Sports Medicine; the American Council on Exercise; the National Strength and Conditioning Association; the National Academy of Sports Medicine; the International Sports Sciences Association; and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America."
Trend: Zumba and other dance workouts
- Benefits: "Zumba is a great alternative to the traditional cardiovascular exercise program. Its signature Latin rhythms vary the speed of the beat of the music to keep your heart rate moving. … The major benefits of aerobic/cardiovascular exercise are increased calorie burn, increased stamina, weight loss, increased muscle tone, lower blood pressures, stronger cardiovascular system, greater balance and coordination and uplifted mood."
- Reminders: "When beginning any new exercise routine, it is best to schedule an appointment with your physician to ensure that you are ready to engage in strenuous physical activity. When it comes to dance routines, start slow, get the moves down, and as your ability increases, so will your fitness."
Trend: Outdoor Activities
- Benefits: "Outdoor physical activity (such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking and sports) is great for the mind. It reduces overall stress, provides exhilaration, creates adventure, provides challenge and improves confidence. Engaging in outdoor activity has enormous physical benefits, building stronger cardiovascular and muscular systems, improving immune system functioning, increasing vitamin D levels, and increasing cognitive functioning."
- Reminders: "When engaging in physical activity outdoors, preparation and common sense can go a long way in preventing injury or even death. … Always be prepared, and let others know where you are going and when you can be expected to return."
- Benefits: "The different styles of yoga will benefit your overall health and help you improve your strength, stamina, balance, breathing and flexibility. Yoga is known to help decrease stress, improve mental outlook, increase concentration, decrease blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels, improve back pain, strengthen muscles and bones and boost immune function."
- Reminders: "The majority of yoga injuries result from overstretching and strain of muscles around the shoulders, neck, spine, legs and knees. You should take great care and progress slowly if you have pre-existing diseases like spinal disease, previous musculoskeletal injuries, high blood pressure, and postural or balance instability. Remember to warm up, start slowly, ask your instructor for help, drink plenty of water before, during and after your yoga session and listen to your body."