10 Exercise Trends for 2003

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) says 2003 is the year of the positive mind shift -- turning our focus from vanity to the mind-body workout. From Pilates to online personal training, ACE gives us the run down of what it says are the hottest exercise

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She's a bicycling fanatic. He's a treadmill guy. Some like salsa dancing. In this too-flabby world, we all need a boot to get more exercise. So tune into your passions. Take your schedule into account. Then look around for whatever interests you -- maybe one of the 10 hottest trends for 2003 will be what you've been looking for.

For busy people with limited free time, the sheer concentration of workout equipment -- bicycle, rowing machine, treadmill, stair stepper -- makes a gym, club, or fitness center attractive, says Jamy McGee, fitness director at Wellness Center at Meadowmont, part of the University of North Carolina Healthcare System in Chapel Hill.

"And I always encourage people to do different things, not just come in and do the treadmill."

"The bottom line is, get moving," says McGee. "We have so many obese people. It's because they do less moving and more eating. It really doesn't matter how we move, it just makes a difference that we do it."

So with all these options, how do you get started? There are of course the old stand-bys, from running to tennis, but perhaps you'd like to dive into one of the hottest new fitness trends for 2003.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) -- a workout watchdog group -- says 2003 will be the year of the mind-body workout, senior participation, and a positive mind shift in how exercise is viewed.

  • Pilates -- ACE says this form of exercise will continue to grow as one of the nation's most popular fitness trends. Originally designed to give dancers muscle strength without added bulk, Pilates focuses on improving strength, posture, flexibility, and body awareness.
  • Core strength workouts -- To achieve balance, strength, and stability, exercise classes that use equipment such as stability balls and medicine balls are expected to gain popularity.
  • "Active relaxation" -- With the aging population, ACE says the focus will turn from vanity to that of flexibility, meditation, yoga, and other holistic exercises -- with the goal of better sleep, longevity, reduced stress, increased energy, and an overall sense of well-being.
  • Sport-specific training -- On today's playing fields, the athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever. A sport-specific training program involves focusing on the specific skills associated with an activity, such as strengthening the rotator cuff muscles of tennis players to improve their serve, while at the same time improving cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility.
  • Seniors and strength training -- Research has shown that strength training is vital to maintaining strong bones -- and staving off bone-thinning osteoporosis that can cause fractures. And studies have shown that strength training can help control cholesterol and blood sugar levels, reduce arthritis pain, and reduce the risk of disabling falls.
  • Online personal training -- You miss out on the personal trainer yelling, "You can do it!" But online personal training can save money and time, overcome problems getting to the gym, and help encourage individuals to stay active, says ACE. Many of these programs offer tips on incorporating fitness into your busy schedule and one-on-one fitness consultations with certified fitness professionals. Online person training is valuable, but it typically is not as effective as having one-on-one contact with a certified fitness professional, says ACE.
  • Personal training -- Not having the commitment, motivation, and/or knowledge of fitness can be a big barrier to sticking with your exercise routine. In fact, ACE says it is estimated that 50% of people who start an exercise program quit within the first six months. A few sessions with a well-trained, certified fitness professional can help refine and recommit yourself to your workout program.
  • Circuit-training classes -- The focus of these classes is to combine cardio and strength training into one workout. This helps get the greatest training effect in the shortest amount of time, says ACE. In addition, by allowing you to get more out of your exercise in a shorter amount of time, circuit-training classes can help you stick to your routine.
  • Family affair -- Americans of all ages -- adults and children -- continue to get fatter. To help parents serve as good role models for their children, families should choose activities that each member of the family can enjoy, regardless of age, fitness level, or athletic ability.
  • Wellness exercise programs -- With the state of the economy and the increased pace of technology, stress-related diseases are taking their toll in the workforce -- costing companies billions each year. In an attempt to improve their bottom line, ACE says corporations will continue to encourage the use of corporate wellness programs -- providing exercise equipment and health advisers. The goal is to reduce healthcare costs, absenteeism, injuries, and turnovers and improve productivity and morale.
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on January 17, 2003


SOURCES: Jamy McGee, fitness director, Wellness Center at Meadowmont, part of the University of North Carolina Healthcare System, Chapel Hill • American Council on Exercise web site.

© 2003 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

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