It seems the fitness world has no shortage of ideas about the best way to work out. The trouble is, those ideas often change from year to year. Remember step class and Zumba? Turns out those once highly popular fitness trends have faded and a new set is in. With so many fitness fads coming and going it can be easy to stop paying attention. Not so fast – here are a few trends worth a try. After all, it is the start of a new year and the perfect time to give your workout routine a makeover.
Body weight training – It seems every workout routine you come across includes forearm or side planks. Go ahead and do them. Planks are a kind of body weight training that uses your own weight instead of barbells to build fitness and strength. You can use tools like resistance belts and bands with body weight training, but don’t worry about it if you don’t have these. There is plenty you can without them to tone up. Think squats, push-ups, lunges, burpees and mountain climbers. A nice benefit of body weight training is you can take your workout anywhere, so on the go or in your bedroom you have no reason not to get in some exercise. No equipment is required.
Functional training – This type of training places the focus on things like posture, balance and flexibility. There is good reason to include functional training in your fitness plan. A study recently published in the journal Stroke reports that poor balance could be a sign of brain damage. Researchers found that subjects unable to maintain balance while standing on one leg for at least 20 seconds were more likely to have problems such as small vessel disease or arterial brain blockages. The researchers further concluded that the damage was often associated with higher risk for stroke, Parkinson’s disease or cognitive decline. The subjects were in their 60’s but there is no time like the present, regardless of age to work on functional training.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
An immediately obvious benefit of HIIT is the power it gives you to do more in less time. By revving up your workout with short intervals of high energy exertion you get the same results as with longer, moderate workouts without intervals. A popular kind of HIIT is Tabata training. Enthusiasts swear by these 4 minute workouts that alternate 20 seconds of hard work with 10 second rest periods. Named for its inventor, Dr. Izumi Tabata in the 1990’s, Tabata is today a hot fitness phenomenon said to build fitness faster, increase aerobic as well as anaerobic capacity, help you more effectively lose weight, burn fat and of course, save time.
Yoga is good for everything from building more flexibility to managing stress and cultivating a level of self-awareness that benefits you in your personal and professional life. Best of all you can start where you are. You do not need a lithe body or rubber band like joints. You only need a willingness to be with your body as it is. Not able to get on the mat? You can start with chair yoga. Can’t touch your toes? You can use blocks and belts to get into a pose. The key is to not compete with fellow yogis, but to just be. As you come into acceptance of your body and its ability in the now, you can fully enjoy the benefits of yoga on the mat and off.
Of course what matters most about any fitness trend is how likely it is to lead you to fitness. More important than the kind of exercise is the act of exercise. Just do whatever you like and you are more likely to do it consistently. Keep moving.