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Why Fitness Trackers Are So Hip

Wearable technology is the top fitness trend for 2016, according to American College of Sports Medicine survey. By Joyce Teo

Illustration: Adam Lee / The Straits Times

That fitness tracker strapped around your wrist not only tracks the distance you have run and more, but also makes you instantly hip.

Wearable technology has been identified as the top fitness trend for 2016, according to a survey by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The survey was completed by more than 2,800 health and fitness professionals worldwide.

Introduced for the first time in the 2016 survey, wearable technology immediately pushed bodyweight training down to the second spot.

"Wearable technology will no longer only cater to those who are active physically but has become an integral part of people's lifestyles," said Mr Christian Mason, managing director for South-east Asia at Virgin Active gym.

He is among those who had predicted the growth of fitness technology here a year ago.

"More people are also depending on wearable technology for a holistic assessment of their wellness such as nutrition intake, stress level or sleep patterns," he told Mind & Body.

While smartwatches will become increasingly popular as they can be used to track fitness, monitor heartbeat and make phone calls, the trusty fitness tracker will still be favoured for its simplicity and ease of use, he added. (Quiz: Which Fitness Wearable Tech Suits You Best?)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) - the quick exercise fix for busy, fit people - is third on the list of top trends for 2016. (Also read: Is HIIT For You?)

Strength training took the fourth spot, followed by educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals (fifth) and personal training (sixth) as qualifications become ever more important.

Functional fitness took the seventh spot. Then, there's fitness programmes for older adults (eighth), followed by exercise and weight loss (ninth) and yoga (10th).

For 2016, apart from the top trend of wearable technology, there were two other new introductions - the use of the flexibility and mobility rollers, which are foam or hard rubber devices designed to massage, relieve muscle tightness and increase circulation; and smartphone exercise apps. They took the 16th and 17th spots respectively.

(Also read: The Best Free Fitness App, According to Researchers)

Some trends are not in the top 20, although they may be popular. These include the Zumba workout, indoor cycling, pilates and fitness bootcamps.

In Singapore, some trends that are not on the American top 20 list are still going strong. Bootcamp is one of them, said Dr Benedict Tan, chairman of Exercise is Medicine Singapore and Changi General Hospital sports medicine chief.

Commenting on the Singapore scene, he said: "The top trends in 2015, such as mixed martial arts, CrossFit, bootcamps and HIIT, are likely to gain even more momentum in 2016." It shows some Singaporeans are learning to appreciate more physically demanding activities, which those trends involve.

Dr Tan added: "Another sport that is growing exponentially worldwide, including in Singapore, is kitesurfing or kiteboarding.

"Winter sports are also growing, as more Singaporeans make skiing and snowboarding an annual fixture in their holiday plans."

Mr Mason thinks that in addition to wearable technology and HIIT, group exercise training (11th) will be the top three trends in Singapore.

Exercise regimens may have to change over time.

Mr Keith Tan, managing director of boutique gym Aileron Wellness, said: "A 20-year-old may now be following a high-intensity, heart- pumping exercise regime but he probably cannot do it for the next two to three decades of his life. He will thus understand the need for what we call 'functional movements' - exercises that serve the needs of daily activities like walking and squatting to pick a baby up."

(Also read: Functional Training: Get Toned in One Month)

Generally, it is good to explore different forms of exercise to keep yourself agile, healthy and young or, at least, young at heart, he said.

Just remember that a well-programmed workout is one that leaves you rejuvenated and that you can visualise yourself doing over a prolonged period, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'Go hip and stay healthy with fitness tracker?'.

Also read:

Top 10 Fitness Trends in 2016
Fitness Trackers Have Error Rates of Up to 50%



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Why Fitness Trackers Are So Hip Why Fitness Trackers Are So Hip Reviewed by Lucille on 7:47:00 PM Rating: 5

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