Published: 28 February 2022. Written by: Laura Andrades
From exercise that’s not all about smashing your personal best to the new breed of wearables, here’s the lowdown on how you’ll be staying fit this year with these fitness trends.
1) Next-gen wearables
Around 320 million wearable health and wellness devices will ship worldwide in 2022, predicts Deloitte, having enjoyed the biggest increase in ownership of any technology in the UK in 2021. And the next generation does far more than tot up your step count.
The latest Fitbit and Garmin models can track your electrodermal activity (a marker for stress), measure your blood oxygen saturation (to help you gauge whether you’re recovering properly from exercise), monitor your heart rhythm via an ECG (electrocardiogram), and calculate your ‘fitness age’. They can also monitor your breathing, measure your sleep quality and give personalised advice to help counter stress.
It’s a bit like having a little coach on your wrist. For Vitality Coach Andrew Isaac, new features like Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score – which uses your sleep, heart rate and activity to tell you whether to rest or get active – make wearables a positive influence. ‘When people start a new fitness goal, they often burn themselves out. Having your Garmin or Fitbit tell you that you need some rest and recovery is perfect because it’s a holistic approach to being active,’ he says.
Get involved: Get an Apple Watch with qualifying Vitality health and life insurance plans, or a discount off a Garmin, Fitbit, Polar or Withings activity tracker. ‘Having reminders like the Breathe function on an Apple Watch, which tells you to take time out to take some deep breaths, or notifications that remind you to get up and move around the room, get some fresh air, or simply to look after yourself, are really positive,’ says Isaac.
2) Fitness for self–care
One positive of the pandemic is that it’s encouraged us to take better care of ourselves, and a big part of that is our approach to exercise. It’s about focusing on movement rather than sweat, enjoyment rather than pain, and recognising the value of rest as well as racing heart rates. Pinterest calls it ‘Flexercise’ and have named it one of 2022’s biggest trends.
‘I love the idea of Flexercise because it’s just about movement,’ says Isaac. ‘When you say the word “exercise” it puts people off because they associate it with HIIT, running and other high- intensity activities, but even walking massively improves fitness. It’s not all about sweat and pain.’
It’s also important for those who genuinely love high-intensity exercise to incorporate some lower-impact options. ‘Active recovery is really important, so rather than having a rest day, do stretches or go for a walk to get your muscles moving and prevent any soreness. That way you’ll perform optimally when you are back to training,’ says Isaac.
Get involved: Isaac recommends finding an activity that appeals, whether solo or with others. ‘Joining a class of low-intensity movement such as yoga gets you out of the house and socialising, which is beneficial physically and mentally.’
A 2020 report by Technavio predicted that the interactive fitness market will grow by $5.44 billion during 2020-2024. As our worlds shrank in 2020 and 2021, we looked for entertainment, exercise and company via technology, subscribing to apps such as Fiit, which offers interactive classes, or competing in the virtual cycling and running programmes that are available through Peloton. It looks likely we’ll move deeper into the fitness metaverse as the year rolls on.
‘If gaming is someone’s passion and there’s a game that gets you active, that’s perfect,’ says Isaac. ‘It’s about inclusivity. If you are a bit shy and happier exercising in your own home than the gym, games can be great, too, or if you want to get your kids involved and make it fun.’
It can also be about losing yourself in another world – London yoga studio FLY LDN beams serene landscapes onto huge HD screens to help city dwellers feel like they’re performing sun salutations on a stunning beach or atop a beautiful mountain.
‘Through lockdown, I never thought I’d be able to cycle around another country – but thanks to Peloton, I could,’ says Isaac. That’s true for many: we may be bored of running around our neighbourhood, or fearful of cycling thanks to high traffic, and the weather can make exercising IRL hard. VR exercise can help keep us motivated and engaged.
Get involved: Ring Fit Adventure, a fitness adventure game that you play with a Pilates ring, acquired new fans during the pandemic. More into hitting the slopes? The world’s first VR skiing game, Ski Fit 365, has launched, with professional skiers declaring it a success, while you can take up boxing on BoxVR.
4) Quirky sports
We’ve all had to work harder to feel cheery during the pandemic – and trying something different can help. Step forward pickleball, an American hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. The sport has been growing in popularity over the last five years, with the first year of the pandemic seeing it grow by an impressive 21% in the US, as it’s a safe and convenient way to stay active. And it’s showing similar signs here, too, with Brits also enjoying how easy pickleball is for beginners, while still offering a good challenge.
‘It allows you to be part of something like a tennis club, but without the membership fees or the seriousness,’ says Isaac. ‘You don’t have to be an expert – just play and if you enjoy it, you’ll do it again.’ It can be played in singles or doubles format, and is less intense than tennis, with easily mastered skills.
Padel is another option for those wanting competition in a light-hearted way. Played on a smaller, enclosed court, it’s similar to tennis, but you can serve underhand and like squash, balls can bounce off walls and stay in play.
Not a fan of racquet sports? Weighted hula hooping has surged in popularity, partly thanks to increased at-home workouts, and TikTok hula hoop challenges. Hoops contain weights typically between 1kg and 3kg. ’It’s a throwback to childhood fun, and you will be working your core muscles as you move,’ says Isaac. In a small 2015 study where women undertook a training programme for six weeks, they saw a decrease in waist and hip circumference – as well as a reduced waist-to-hip ratio.
Get involved: Head to lta.org.uk to find your nearest Padel venue. If you’re up for pickleball, find a place to play at Pickleball England, and info at Pickleball Portal. You can pick up a weighted hula hoop online for around £15.
So you’ve jumped on the fitness trends for 2022 but you’re also looking to keep your mind healthy? Well, we have 4 wellness trends for 2022.
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