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Fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices, including tech that can monitor heart rate, calories, sitting time, sleep and more … that’s right, wearable tech has been officially named the top fitness trend for 2024.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released its top fitness trends survey results in the January/February issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal and – no surprise here – wearable tech hits the top spot for 2024. Devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers and heart rate monitors can include real-time information about pulse, step counts and sleep, which allows fit pros to tailor programmes to their clients. Having been in the top three since 2016, the popularity of wearables and the news this trend has hit the number one spot may also suggest increased interest in using wearables for community connection and social support. The fact that mobile exercise apps have placed in the top 10 for the first time this year is also telling of the impact of tech on the industry.

“We know that social support is one of the strongest predictors of exercise self-efficacy. It is important for exercise professionals to leverage the capabilities of wearable technology to improve adherence and autonomy for clients,” says Trends co-author and spokesperson A’Naja Newsome, PhD, ACSM-CEP.

Here are the top 10 trends for 2024:

  1. Wearable Technology. Think fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices, including tech that can monitor heart rate, calories, sitting time, sleep and more.
  2. Worksite Health Promotion. Work-related programmes and perks that increase employee wellness. (*First time in the top 10.)
  3. Fitness Programmes for Older Adults. Interventions focused on the unique needs of the ageing population.
  4. Exercise for Weight Loss. Incorporating weight-loss programmes such as dieting and culinary interventions alongside an exercise routine.
  5. Employing Certified Exercise Professionals. Employing certified health and fitness professionals who have completed educational programmes and fully accredited health/fitness certifications.
  6. Mobile Exercise Apps. Smartphone and related applications that aid in exercise performance or programming. (*First time in the top 10.)
  7. Exercise for Mental Health. Improving mental wellbeing through physical activity. (*First time in the top 10.)
  8. Youth Athletic Development. Engaging young people in sports and related activities. (*First time in the top 10.)
  9. Personal Training. Personal training includes goal setting, fitness assessment and exercise programming with a trainer in one-on-one settings.

Worksite health promotion is the number two fitness trend for 2024, despite it making the top 10 for the first time ever in 2024. This points to a link between employees getting back to work ‘in office’ post-pandemic and the development of work-related programmes and perks to increase employee wellness.

“We are noticing that exercise professionals prioritise health-related outcomes of fitness programmes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are starting to see fitness being used to reduce symptoms of mental illness and to increase health-related quality of life,” says Dr Newsome.

The survey predicts the top 20 fitness trends in the United States and around the world. Since 2006, the ACSM Worldwide Fitness Trends survey has brought together input from 2,000 clinicians, researchers and practitioners in the fitness industry. For 2024, findings were combined from two surveys, ACSM’s Worldwide Fitness Trends and Fitness Trends from Around the Globe, to provide a wider ranging, regionally sensitive perspective.

The number three trend, fitness programmes for older adults, was number 11 in 2022 and number four in 2023. Recognition of the importance of exercise in later life appears to be growing.

Considering the impact technology continues to make on the world, it’s no surprise wearable tech is in the number one spot for 2024.

The full list of top 20 trends is available here.

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